Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on students & politics: Every problem is related to politics

January 23 is the123rd birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who was 32 years old when he delivered this address

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on students & politics: Every problem  is related to politics

Subhash Chandra Bose

‘You have summoned me from distant Calcutta to come and speak to you. Why have you summoned me of all persons? Is it because the East and West should meet to solve their common problems? Is it because Bengal, which was the first to come under the foreign yoke, and the Punjab, which was the last to be enslaved, have need of each other? Or is it because you and I have something in common — sharing the same thoughts and cherishing the same aspirations?

I shall make no apology if in this discourse I refer at length to political questions and endeavour to answer them. I know that there are people in this country who think that a subject race has no politics and that students in particular should have nothing to do
with politics.

But my own view is that a subject race has nothing but politics. In a dependent country every problem that you can think of, when analysed properly, will be found to be at bottom a political problem. You cannot therefore separate politics from education. Human life cannot be split up into compartments. All the aspects of national life are inter-related. This being the case, it will be found that all the evils and all the shortcomings can be traced to a political cause. Consequently, students cannot afford to be blind to the all important problem of how to achieve our political emancipation.

I do not understand why a special ban should be imposed on participation in politics. If, in a dependent country, all problems are fundamentally political problems, then all national activity is in reality political in character.

There is no ban on participation in politics in any free country; on the contrary, students are encouraged to take part in politics. This encouragement is deliberately given, because out of the ranks of the students arise political thinkers and politicians.

If, in India, students do not take active part in politics, from where are we to recruit our political workers and where are we to train them?

The youth movement of today is characterised by a feeling of restlessness, of impatience with the present order of things, and by an intense desire to usher in a new and a better era. A sense of responsibility and a spirit of self-reliance pervade this movement.

Youths of the present day no longer feel content to hand over responsibility o their elders. They rather feel that the country and the country’s future belong more to them than to the elder generation. It is therefore their bounden duty to accept the fullest responsibility for the future of their country and to equip themselves for the proper discharge of that responsibility.

The students’ movement of today is not a movement of irresponsible boys and girls. It is a movement of responsible, though young, men and women who are inspired with the one ideal of developing their character and personality and thereby rendering the most effective and useful service to the cause of their country.”

(Excerpts from Presidential address at the Students’ Conference held at Lahore on October 19, 1929)

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