mid-day editorial: Debate more for concrete results to protests

It is a domino effect from Delhi, and the simmering cauldron that is student politics is on the boil once again. Students of Mumbai's Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) will hold a massive protest on March 8, against the attack on students and journalists outside Delhi's Ramjas College.

Meanwhile, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is on the opposite side, protesting against the 'left-wing' TISS. Central to this controversy is the cancellation of a two-day seminar on the theme, 'Cultures of Protest' at Ramjas College. The objection was to the panel of speakers, JNU student leaders Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid. Now that the fire has singed the city against the Mumbai chapter of the ABVP, this planned protest should be a peaceful one.

Instead of being confrontational, it should tackle issues like what is nationalism, what exactly is anti-national? There needs to be a discussion on whether the space for freedom or azaadi is shrinking. And, if there is this intangible feeling of fear, who is feeling it and why? For concrete results, we need debates, not confrontations and protests.

Since student politics has returned in Mumbai, it must show that it is back as an intellectually robust first step towards bigger politics, and smash the stereotype of thuggery and violence it has been associated with.

It would be naïve to assume that the right-wing and left-wing will ever come together, but this protest should be one about awareness and two ways of thinking, but not about violence, locking up people in colleges, disappearing students or cops being called in to control a hastily spiraling situation. Let both sides also see that man hours and work days are not lost because of this, where the fighting and confrontation overshadows the real reason about why this protest is being held at all.

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