Volume 3, No. 1, January 2021
Editor: Rashed Rahman
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
A few years back a few friends had asked me to say a few words on “Why politics is necessary for students”. And this is what I came up with and am sharing it as there is a surge in students’ demands for their rights and the freedom to organise.
Now writing about the necessity of students to be involved in politics is as difficult or as easy as writing about “Why is food necessary for life” because politics for students is as necessary as food is for life. It is not only the knowledge that you acquire from books that determines the sort of person you become; to be what you become is deeply influenced by the ethos that your society, your home, your friends and of course your politics expose you to. We are the product of our environment and the politics that we choose. But before we go further, I would like to give an example as to why politics is necessary for students.
We all know that fires are devastating for forests as they destroy the trees and wildlife but these fires also have another role. Over time, the trees shed seeds in large numbers and these seeds do not germinate because they are in a dormant state, and cannot germinate until they are woken up. The heat of the fire wakes them up and they begin to germinate. Before broadcasting seeds of acacia for man-made forests, the seeds are dumped into boiling water, which then ensures that they germinate. Politics too is the heat that ensures that the seeds of society (students) germinate and mature.
A student without politics is like a dormant seed and a dormant seed is not of much use to the forest. A student who has the right political views understands society better and with better understanding we can serve it better. To find the path in the maze that all societies today are in, one has to have a moral compass and politics is just that moral compass for a student.
I know my use of the term ‘right political views’ may seem odd to some friends and may be construed as biased towards a certain school of thought but I would like to make it clear that yes, I am biased. As Mark Twain said, “I know that I am prejudiced on this matter, but I would be ashamed of myself if I were not.”
Yes, I am biased and I support the political school of thought that opposes imperialism and neo-colonialism; opposes the politics that deprives minorities of rights, that is misogynistic, that promotes state-sponsored religion, imposes a certain language and culture on the nations that come under its yoke. Politics has to be good to make students useful for humanity. Otherwise, societies would regress.
What I mean to say is that politics, though necessary for students, has to be the right type of politics, the politics that inculcates human values in the student and provides a moral compass to walk along the path that leads to salvation of humanity by teaching him that injustice, in whatever form, must be opposed.
This can be illustrated candidly: There are Baloch students’ organisations other than the BSO-Azad, but they promote submission to and being co-opted by the Pakistani state and its institutions regardless of the fact that this state and its institutions not only deprive the Baloch of all their rights but also share responsibility for the systematic and organised ‘dirty war’ against the Baloch people. How can the politics of supporting the oppressors be the right politics? Those without a moral compass end up supporting the oppressors and tyrants, finding excuses of working with the system handy. No number of excuses can justify submitting to injustices and supporting the oppressors.
Not all food will keep you alive and healthy; certain foods will slowly but surely destroy your health. Politics, like food, has to be of the right type to be of any value to the students. It is eventually the choice and discretion of the student to choose the politics that he wants to follow, but just a cautionary word at the end that if you do not choose the right politics you will end up supporting the wrong politics. So, my dear friends, if we do err, let us err on the correct side.
Those who choose the right politics are often warned about its consequences, futility and price exacted by it. Yes, there are consequences and a price to pay for the path that you choose and if you are willing to pay the price, make your choice. In the end, I would like tell my friends, my fellow travellers and all those reading this that:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
’Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
– Lord Alfred Tennyson.
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur