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Students and Mahatma Gandhi

 

Question: Students’ strike – right or wrong?

Mahatma Gandhi’s answer: Whilst have pleaded for the removal of restrictions on the speech and movements of students, I am not able to support political strikes or demonstrations. Students should have the greatest freedom of expression and of opinion. They may openly sympathize with any political party they like.

But in any opinion they may not have freedom of action whilst they are studying. A student cannot be an active politician and pursue his studies at the same time.

It is difficult to draw hard and fast lines at the time of big national upheavals. Then they do not strike or, if the word 'strike' can be used in such circumstances, it is a wholesale strike; it is a suspension of studies. Thus what may appear to be an exception is not one in reality.

 

Question: What am I to do after finishing my studies?

Mahatma Gandhi’s answer: We are today a subject race and our educational system has been devised to serve the interests of our rulers. But even as the most selfish person is obliged to hold out some lure to those whom he is out to exploit, a number of temptations for studying in their institutions have been brought into being by the rulers. Moreover, all members of Government are not alike. There are some liberal minded among them who will consider the problem of education on merits. Therefore, there is no doubt some good even in the present system. But the prevailing education is willy-nilly put to wrong use, i.e., it is looked upon as a means of earning money and position.

 

The ancient aphorism, 'Education is that which liberate,' is as true today as it was before. Education here does not mean mere spiritual knowledge nor does liberation signify only spiritual liberation after death. Knowledge includes all training that is useful for the service of mankind and liberation means freedom from all manner of servitude even in the present life. Servitude is of two kinds: slavery to domination from outside and to one's own artificial needs. The knowledge acquired in the pursuit of this ideal alone constitutes true study.

 

…The demand for entrance to Government institutions and those imparting education on similar lines is increasing faster than the number of such schools and colleges. The ranks of examinees are ever swelling. In spite of this hypnotic spell, however, I hold that true education is what I have defined. A student who is superficially attracted by the educational ideal set forth by me and leaves his studies is liable to repent of his action later. I have, therefore, suggested a safer course. While continuing his studies in the institution which he has joined he should ever keep before him the ideal of service set forth by me and use his studies with a view to serve that ideal, never for making money. Moreover, he should try to make up the lack in the present education by application of his leisure hours to the ideal. He will, therefore avail himself to the utmost of whatever opportunity offers for taking part in the constructive programme.

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