Social Scientist. v 6, no. 70 (May 1978) p. 53.

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Political Consciousness of the Student Movement in India

AT THE stroke of midnight, on 15th August 1947, two men who bad shared the same student platform eleven years earlier, at ^he first conference of the All India Students' Federation in Lucknow, divided the country between themselves Mohammad All Jmnah, the founding father of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in his presidential address, had then spoken against communalism, andjawaharlal Nehru, who ^ad inaugurated the conference, showed himself to be a past master a( the art of evasion, when in a debate as to wfeether students should he pplnicaj^y active in the national movement, he blithely declared that taking part in the national movement was not politics but a ^sacred duty."

In the face of a mounting anti-tttiperialist build-up among the masses in India, even srtf*styted Socialists' like N^hru, it would appear had retreated from the far more clear-cut position taken by Sir Surendra-nath Bancrjee, one of India's first student-leaders, and a moderate, who declared that student^ "must, on the one hand, be stitred out oftheir indifference to politics.. .and, owthe other, protected against extreme fanatical views."1 Thus, \vhere Banerjce is not afraid to put forward his political point ^f view as suich, Nehru, in the face of the tide 6f genuinely anti-imperialist politics of the toiling classes, is forced to Mde behind the facade of apolitical tnanouevering.


* It is not surprising, therefore, that ideas such as Nehru's received

a sharp rebuke in 'the welcoming address of Prem Bhargava at theJL^uck-now Conference when he pointed out that ^while any deep political colouring nted not be'an inevitable characteristic of our movement, I for one cannot understand how in the rapidly changing conditions of qur country we can keep altogether away from it unless., of course, ^he sple purpose of our educational institutions is merely to produce ^chor^us boys' of British Imperialism.^2

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