By Ahona Chakrabarty, KIIT School Of Law, Bhubaneswar.

“The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday’s bear date with the modern antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bound and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.” is India in a nutshell, brilliantly described here by the famous American author Mark Twain. India is a vast country – vast in area, diversity, population, ideas, languages, behaviour and also problems, conflicts, discrimination. Naturally, it consists of many lights as well as shadows.

Issues are mainly social, political, economic; each of these affecting and arising from each other have existed in India since ages. The students and youth are becoming the most active participants in the Indian society in the recent times. They are the ones who dare to accept changes and new ideas and dare to raise their voice against those evils of the society which no one has ever spoken against. They are also the most sensitive to things, good or bad, that takes place in the society. This participation, however, is often questioned by many belonging to the older generation due to various reasons, “ego” being the prime one.  Lala Lajpat Rai emphatically discussed this issue in his presidential address to the first All India Students’ Conference, held in December 1920 saying, “I am not one of those who believe that students ought not to meddle in politics. I think it is the most stupid theory and an impossible theory too. It is the creation not of confused brains but of dishonest brains.”

This “youth-boom” in the society brings in a sense of strength and zest in the country because the basis of these activisms is sheer concern for the society and love for the country. There are many reasons which have led to this change in the minds of the youth. The most important one being education. The system of education and that which is being taught is changing with time. The teachers have a huge role to play in this respect. In India, unlike the western countries, the teacher student relationship has always been a very formal one but having also a lot of depth and touches of friendship, attachment and mutual respect. The teachers are significant presences in the lives of the students and play a very important role in moulding the minds of the students. As for the students, they tend to follow, think and live in a way that has been taught by their teachers, consciously or unconsciously. Hence, it is the teachers who either teach the students to be content and accept the way things have been going on or to teach them to use reason and question the norms, traditions and customs they are asked to follow. Fortunately, there are many who realize the need for change and this realization is gradually making its mark in the educational spheres.

Obstacles are obviously present in the way of this change as well. There are many who claim that children should not get involved in socio-political issues at a very young age. Instead they should concentrate in their studies, examinations so on and so forth. Well for them, this is what Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Is the examination hall or the counting house dearer to you than India’s freedom…what shall it profit you to get your empty degrees if the millions starve and your motherland continues in bondage! Who lives if India dies? Who dies if India lives?” It is true that this statement was made during the freedom movement but it still holds a lot of truth in it. To understand this, people should have a spiritualistic outlook to some extent, to think and understand what is good and what is bad, what is required, what is wrong and should be changed, to come out of the various social boundaries and stereotyped ideas that often come in the way of progress of the country, state and the people. The great writer Rabindranath Tagore dreamt of a future where the world will not be “divided into segments of narrow domestic walls”. These are not literally brick walls but the walls people built up in their minds, the walls that need to be conquered.

In the present age of westernization, there are many gross issues which still remain neglected. Style, the way of speaking, behaviour even relations are changing due to westernization but in most cases they only contribute to polishing the surface. It is very rare that the effects of westernization reach the depths of our society and bring about the change that is actually required. Only a few identify the lapses and loopholes in our country, areas where we actually need to learn from the western cultures for improvement.

It is usually the powerful, the rich, men who tend to be luckier than the unfortunate rest who gain in matters of development. The dalits for instance, often called the untouchables have existed in our society since any times immemorial. There have been innumerable developments in India over these years but how many have tried to put these to the benefits of these people is a question that hardly anyone has ever considered. What is the point of development if the people of the country, those who need development and enhancement the most, are being deprived? If it is not for the benefit of our own people then why so much of hype about social developmental processes is a big question that needs to be answered. Dalits still remain discriminated against, described by the ridiculous terms “lower caste”, the “untouchables” etc. Without realization we do things daily which stand in the way of any kind of real development. If asked the simple question “how many in this country use the same bottle, from which a mason has drunk, to store water in the house”. Such huge differences among “humans”, the residents of the same country, bring up a very disturbing and unpleasant picture. To overcome backwardness “reservation policies” are becoming very popular nowadays. Reservation for women, the backward classes are terms we come across very often. True, these policies are helping to some extent but unfortunately in most cases it is observed that these policies are highly misused. The people who these are for are so detached that they do not even come to know about them and even if they do they hardly ever dare to step out into the world and compete. The lack of confidence is again due to many reasons. Neglect for years, discrimination and ill-treatment wherever they go are the major ones..

However, with gradual change in the minds of people, the efforts of the ones who are fighting to open the closed minds and time some improvements are taking place. For example, caste discrimination, a very prevalent malaise in the past is gradually in the way of change. It is still quite common but there are many who have started being flexible in this respect. Inter caste marriage problems, a very common issue in the past have decreased a lot over the years and people have gradually started accepting it. In the years to come some change for good in this respect could be expected.

India is one of the richest countries in almost every sphere. Without the diversities and difference India would not have been half as rich. If only everyone does their own bit to improve the flaws of the country and open their minds enough to notice these flaws it would not be long when India will be a place everyone will want to be a part of. “So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked” are again the words of Mark Twain. With so much there already, all that the country now requires is a little bit more cooperation, hard work, freedom of mind and a little more love and respect amongst its people to make it a country that all other countries would want to be like.