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Deflected focus: the dress debacle

The most important factor for formation of organizations by students should be to develop core competencies in areas including but not limited to learning to communicate effectively, the ability to think critically, building character, preparing for citizenship, living with diversity, preparing for global society, acquiring broader interests and preparing for a career and vocational development. And central to the development of these core competencies is the necessity for students to focus on their academic pursuits as utmost priority.
It goes without saying that politics has to have a large role in any organisation including that of students. The need to activate and prepare young minds to observe and form critical opinions and learn to assert their opinions and collective suggestions cannot be stressed enough. There is however an inherent risk for the young impressionable minds to be led astray from their focus of developing the core competencies to dabbling with issues which are beyond their area of interest and relevance.
With the multitude of mushrooming student bodies in the state raising a plethora of issues and not infrequently at loggerheads among themselves, it is no surprise then that every so often these organizations steps out of their area of relevancy and tries to raise non-issues for no apparent reason except maybe to announce their continuing presence which many could equate with ‘attention-seeking’ behavior.

The latest instance of a few groups of student organizations announcing their intention to ban certain dresses by teachers raking up more unwanted feedbacks from every social sphere is a valid point in case. Raising issues concerning the lack of essential facilities for students or educational institutions, speaking out against the incessant disturbances being applied on the academic atmosphere in the state and protests/demands for timely and smooth functioning of the state mechanism responsible for dispensing education in the state are valid and necessary steps that warrant support and appreciation. Such activities imply that the students are focused on advancing their academic pursuits and are aware of the impacts of any disturbances in the smooth functioning of the academic mechanism in the state. However, turning their attention to such flimsy and irrelevant matters as the dress of the teachers points to a regressive mentality counterproductive to their intellectual growth and global outlook which they should be trying to develop. It would not come as a surprise to anybody if such announcements and decisions are revealed to be made under the influence and direction of certain vested interests rather than a collective decision derived at after deliberations and consultations by the student organizations. This is exactly where the society begins getting concerned about the students who are still yet to mature intellectually as well as emotionally being swayed by certain ideologies and influences that goes counterproductive to the development of their core competencies.
Another cause for concern as witnessed during the recent announcement to ban or rather impose a dress code on the teachers by the student organizations is the increasingly evident self-appointed role of an executive body with the self-sanctioned right and power to impose its decisions in the society which is far removed from the main purpose of representing the students both within the institutions and externally on issues relating to facilities, support and services.
As prospective candidates for leading the society towards progress and development in the near future, students play a huge role in the society. The expectations placed on them by the society should be taken into account in every conduct and decision they take as the results will reflect the future path the society is taking. Perseverance, restraint and broadened perspective should be the guiding principle in their quest for perfection and progress. But most important of all, they should understand the thin line dividing activism and extremism.

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.

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