DUB Speak

An open letter to the HRD Minister: How safe is the future of India?

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Hon’ble Union Minister Smt. Smriti Irani,

It is said the youth is the future of India, the building blocks, the ones capable to usher India into an era of economic health and stability. The youth has the strength and enthusiasm to shoulder the responsibility of bringing India at par with the super power nations of world.

However ironically, the valuable resource that has to its credit a whole cabinet ministry for its supposed ‘development’ isn’t safe courtesy the carelessness, lack of proper guidelines, lousy policies, no implementation and what not.

You did hear about the recent appalling incident of drowning of 24 Hyderabadi engineering students in the waters of river Beas in Himachal Pradesh. I’ve read your tweets about how sad the incident was and how everyone is at work for all the aid they could provide. However, the event, indeed has raised numerous questions on the safety of students on excursions and education trips. It is a bizarre example as to how the students on a field trip had to pay with their lives for a supposed development exercise through an ill planned practical exposure.

Also, does it make you ponder, could the catastrophe have been avoided had the management of the trip been a little cautious, or had the students been rather vigilant? Also, as the parents mourn the death of their young promising  children whose bodies are still being fished for, who takes the responsibility behind it all?

Something like education trips is common to numerous institutions, the University of Delhi being no exception. There are excursions, both official and non official, that happen almost every semester. Apart from this, courtesy the new curriculum introduced under the FYUP, the students are supposed to undertake trips/ excursions/visits rather regularly for research, sports etc.Also, the university’s exclusive initiative, the Gyanodaya  Express, takes 1000 DU students to places like Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore and Ahmedabad for the study tours every semester.

Thus, the disaster that happened with the students of  VNR Engineering College could happen to anyone and anywhere at any given moment. It might happen to me, it scares me, it might happen to the dearest of my friends or siblings or maybe someone dear to you.

Though Delhi University has specifically stated guidelines ensuring safety of students in NSS, NCC and  Gyanodaya Express study tours and camps, the teachers always do accompany students and there are proper orientation sessions are held by trained officials at the beginning, still in absolute absence of central laws and authority – responsibility relationships, how safe are these excursions?

India lost 24 future engineers last week, an irrevocable loss indeed. Individual endeavors could reduce the impact and frequency of such unforeseen accidents, but it doesn’t end the entire problem. The students, the so called ‘human resources’ are at risk of stress, molestation, racial discrimination ( as in the case of Arunanchal Pradesh student Nido Taniam’s kiling in Delhi) and evils of drug abuse and ragging, which sadly are reported in some nook or corner every year.

If not at a risk of serious physical damage, the students are being treated as lab rats in their own nation, experimenting education regimes and formats on them with utter apathy towards the student’s time, careers, desires and interests. How far could we go, with the plethora of ills plaguing and hindering the progress of the youth?

I understand  you’ve got the command of a sinking ship, but owing to the gravity of situation, whatever needs to be done, is to be done now. The youth doesn’t doubt you on basis of your qualifications, they are merely papers.  We are  positive enough and wait for the delivery of the ‘India’ so promised, the one which is synonymous to progress, overall education, sufficient employment and bright futures.

Formulation of strategies for student safety needs to be the prime concern. Policies need to be designed and procedures outlaid, faulty education programs need to be revamped. The voice of students’ interest ought to have a say in what affects them, so as to make the atmosphere of learning congenial, acceptable and secure, for the Achche Din that the government promises, won’t come until the youth is safe, prosperous and working hard to hitch the wagon of India to stars.

Yours sincerely

A concerned student and citizen of India.

Mridul Sharma is a final year B.Com (Honors) aspirant from DCAC, a patron of meaningful cinema and good soft music and has deep love for writing. He is more of a poet, feels whatever he writes and writes to understand what he feels, a little better. Currently, the Associate Web Editor at DU Beat, he is looking forward to his final year and can be contacted at [email protected]

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