Yesterday evening, I was visiting some friends, whose son is studying in a local college. While the mother was serving us tea and sponge cakes, I asked the father, more to make conversation than because I was really interested: "So, how is your son doing at college?"
"Bad," he said, "very bad. Apart from playing cricket and football for the college and getting first class with distinction in the exams, he is doing nothing."
"What else is thre to do!" I said. "I would have thought you would be very pround of your son's progress at college."
"But he is not taking part in any political activities. None of our Bombay University students are engaged in political activities; they are not stopping traffic, burning buses, throwing stones at ministers, fighting with the police, nothing," the father said.
The mother came and sat down with us and told me: "You tell him, Ravi beta always listens to you. Tell him how important it is that he and all his friends should demonstrate against things, like students their age are doing in Delhi, Punjab, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, even Karnataka and Andhra."
"If you wish, I will certainly tell him," I said. "But don't you think it is best that out Bombay students keep away from all this Mandal and other things. Just look at what is happening in the Delhi University, the anti-reservations students have blocked traffic not only at the university campus but also at Dhaula Kuan and Lalkaji in South Delhi, wherever they are."
"Yes, our Bombay students should note that," said the mother. "All our boys do is go to college and bury their heads in their books, and come home and again bury their heads in the books. At the most they run in some races or play games and win prizes. Not one among them thinks of defying the government and raising anti-Mandal slogans. After all, the reservations policy is going to affect the future of all the youths, not just those in Delhi, Meerut, Valabh Vidyanagar, Jaipur, Annamalai, Lucknow, etc."
The father said: "So many times I have told my son to at least made an attempt to self-immolate himself. It not actually do it, at least make an attempt, that will set the agitation rolling. As it is, the Delhi students are stealing a march over out students. Even in Rajasthan, which has no great university to boast of, they have started immolating themselves."
"I think you are being too hard on your son," I said. "Give him a chance, he is going in the right direction. I understand he is already in line to play for his university."
"Where is that going to land him!" the mother said. "In Delhi and other places, because of their political agitations, the students rise to become ministers. Here, at the most, at the ripe old age of 18, all they can hope to become is a PRO of Mafatlala at a salary of only Rs. 15,000."