Big leaders no longer emerging from student community: CJI

“Youngsters are now sent to residential schools, and they lead a cloistered life”

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana said on Thursday that no “big leader” had emerged from the student community in the past few decades, in a country where students were the “face of the Independence movement”.

“This appears to be correlated with diminished participation of students in social causes after liberalisation,” said the CJI, who was once a student leader himself.

The Chief Justice lamented that students were sent into “exile” to private residential schools and coaching centres, where they lived a cloistered life without knowing the truths about the society around them. The talents in them were snuffed out in the suffocating atmosphere of these establishments which resembled prisons.

Chief Justice Ramana said the focus was now on “professional courses” to secure high paying jobs. Humanities and natural sciences, which help in the holistic development of students, were “totally neglected”.

“The harsh reality is that even after the students enter professional universities, the focus is on classroom learning, and not on the world beyond the classroom. I am not sure who or what is to blame for these changes,” the CJI said addressing a convocation ceremony organised at the National Law University, Delhi.

The CJI said access to basic education was still a distant mirage in India. “Nearly one-fourth of our population still lacks access to basic education. Only about 27% of those in the age group of university students are enrolling for university education… Education has a social agenda. An educated citizenry is the greatest asset for any democratic society,” the CJI said.

He said it was time the educated youth stood up for the less fortunate.

“They cannot live in isolation. Students are guardians of freedom, justice, equality, ethics, and social equilibrium… When the youth become socially and politically conscious, the basic issues of education, food, clothing, healthcare, shelter, etc. would come into focus in the national discourse. The educated youth cannot remain aloof from social reality. You have a special responsibility,” Chief Justice Ramana reminded the younger generation.

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