Student politics must be freed from national party politics
The current practice of student politics is virulent. The culture is filled with arson, rape, violence, extortion, and infighting. The students are not strong independent leaders that the country needs. Rather, they are simply extensions of the national parties and carry out the biddings of their party leaders.
They do not contribute to the welfare of their people, they contribute to their misery. They wield machetes and Molotov cocktails, not pens and posters. The brave non-violent culture of our student politics is now all but dead.
The hunger of student politics has become all consuming. Young people, even those who are currently enrolled in schools, are coming into the sphere of student politics and are being jeopardized, just like our overall democracy.
The practice of student politics is barely friendly towards the ideals of democracy. It fills the non-violent and noble idea of democracy with violence and extortion. It prevents the advent of independent political leaders and parties, and it obstructs the flourishing of new political thought.
Student politicians are used as tools for raising funds for the national parties. As such, the operatives of the student political organizations have to rely on violence and extortion. This is also very detrimental for business. The small businessmen of the country are tired of the culture of extortion that the current student politics perpetuates. This must be changed.
Because of the young age and hot-tempered nature of student politicians, they often get involved in violent infighting and clashes. The main stem of the problem with Bangladeshi student politics is that the student political organizations are extensions of the national parties.
Even though independent political platforms like DUCSU and JUCSU exist, the elections are irregular and politicized. Even though there was a DUCSU election recently, it was marred with irregularities and rigging. The elections need to be regular, free, and fair, so that aspiring student politicians can use these platforms to jumpstart their future political careers without having to rely on the national political parties.
So how do we rescue our student politics from the fanfare of hockey sticks and construction rods? Firstly, the national parties have to reform their funding method. It is deplorable that their funding primarily depends on extortion and donations from large businessmen and party members. The funding mechanism needs to be voluntary and student-friendly.
The national parties should rather depend on small donations from common people.
They should regularly write letters asking their followers to donate money to their funds just like parties in other democratic countries do.
Student politics must be freed from national party politics. It should be independent and strong. All educational institutions past the higher secondary level should have an elected student parliament and non-partisan candidates should contest the polls in those platforms.
Student politics can be a breeding ground for strong independent leaders.
But under the current structure, the only thing the student politics would produce are musclemen, yes-men, and criminals.
Anupam Debashis Roy is a Sub-Editor at Dhaka Tribune.