A true democracy is where everyone is equal. The one who sits on the chair and the one who stands below have equal rights and powers. This equality comes when everyone has the right to question those in power. This makes the authority accountable to people and also allows those who don’t hold any position of power demand the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution. In the Indian scenario, where questioning elders is deemed as disrespect, a majority of the country never learns this art of critical thinking which is essential for the soul of every democracy to survive on.
The University of Delhi (DU) is considered as one of the most politically active campuses in the country. Every other day, you can find a protest, gathering or a rally for various reasons in its north campus. This protest culture of the University offers a lot to learn from the students. These protests not only gather support for various demands but also become an important chapter in your learning process. It teaches you how to question authority and how to register dissent in person or as a community. This lesson further helps you to speak your mind and share your thoughts without any fear of authority. Regardless of the immediate goal at hand, be it high hostel fees or poor infrastructure, it trains you to be proactive against larger issues throughout your life.
These protests also instil in you the courage to fight and the resilience to survive opposition from systemic forces. Many a time, people face oppression because the victim either lacks the courage or the knowledge required to speak up. This courage won’t just help you grow as a leader but also helps you in articulating your opinions on public platforms. Be it in corporate boardrooms or political meetings, courageous leaders are the need of the hour today. Given the history of the University, some student protesters such as Arun Jaitley and Shashi Tharoor have grown up to become senior politicians in the country. The ability to stand up for what you believe in determines your position in the society.
Be it the case of adhocism of teachers, a fake encounter in a Naxalite area or the plight of Syrian refugees, every major injustice, be it local or global is highlighted through protests in the University.
Today, as incumbent governments across countries are cracking down on dissent and vilifying the protest culture as ‘anti-national’, the time requires you to learn how to protest more than ever before. The next time you see a protest or find an invitation regarding something you feel strongly about, make it a point to participate. By staying silent or avoiding protests you are killing someone who is most important to your future, the leader inside you.