Freedom lost in books

This come out quite strongly as you scan the mindscape of the City’s youngsters, agitated as they are by the many restrictions.

College students across town might have geared up for a fete to commemorate Independence Day. But they themselves are left to brave infringements upon several rights of theirs. Many of these infringements, they feel, blatantly violate the constitution and the Supreme Court. One serious violation of the Article 19 of the Constitution is the prevalent ban on students’ unions (election of representatives for such organisations). This was introduced during the S M Krishna regime (1991) and has been in place ever since, although the Supreme Court, a few years ago, had directed that the right to form students’ unions must be restored.

While any Bangalorean can participate in the process of electing a government at 18, most colleges believe they can’t pick their wardrobe. Thus, colleges decide what students wear, infringing upon the freedom of expression – another fundamental right. The list goes on. One after the other, restrictions and bans fail to adhere to the basic tenets of freedom that guide students’ lives.

Arguments, however, run both ways. While some believe unions are a “must” and dress code an infringement, there are many supporting the ban on unions and prevalence of dress code.

Take Sommaiah, Professor, Department of Political Science, St Joseph’s College, who was an active union member in his college days. “The spirit of ‘true’ unions working for student welfare, and putting checks and balances in place for the society died in the mid ’70s’. It was plain politics after that. Politics, in the wrong direction,” he contends.

Though his ‘heart’ beats for recreation of true student spirit and unions, his mind has reconciled with the ban. But, Democratic Youth Federation of India State Secretary Rajashekar Murthy believes there is no substitute for unions. The absence of such unions is what has made our political system corrupt, the lack of it is the reason of imbalances in the society, he quips.

Opinion is also divided on colleges imposing dress code. Some say as along it doesn’t imply imposing ideologies, it is fine. Some say let there be a dress sense and not a code. The topic somehow, hovers around sensitive subjects like the ‘right judgement’ of what is dress sense and what is a code where does ones’ freedom end and another’s begin.

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