“Its jobs, what else” Top expectation of Punjab youth from government
Students in Punjab colleges may use different arguments but their expectations are same, as one drives down from the Malwa region to Majha through parts of Doaba.
Unlike, what’s projected in movies like “Udta Punjab’, most students are serious about their studies and future. It belongs to a generation engaged in higher learning in sciences, humanities and economics. Doctoral studies are underway on subjects as intrinsic to the local milieu as ‘narratives of contemporary agrarian crises’ in Punjabi literature.
They recite lines from Paash, the left-wing poet who fell to a Khalistani bullet in the 1980s, raise questions about the Punjab’s staggering Rs 60,000-crore rural debt, punch holes in the farmers’ manifesto of the AAP and are generally cynical about the political class.
What are their expectations? “Its jobs, what else,” they say, be it at Patiala’s Punjabi University or Amritsar’s Guru Nanak Dev University. The girls talk also about safety and the need to rein in roughnecks. There’s palpable urge across genders for a systemic change.
But that hasn’t taken the youth to the Congress on a rebound. Not yet. Till recently, their pivot was Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP. But the dream is falling apart. Or so it seems after Sucha Singh Chhotepur exited the party and Navjot Sidhu charted his own course with his Awaaz-e-Punjab. Allegations of promiscuity of AAP activists and the “outsider” tag thrust upon their top leaders have taken the sheen off the party that until recently was perceived as a ray of hope.
In Amritsar’s GNDU, clannish loyalties broadly exist for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Congress and the BJP, though there are students who think above the clan towards larger issues.
In Patiala, one gets the sense that the youth have broken free of fraternal allegiances. The “profligate” Badal family is held in disdain for its high-handed ways and it’s stranglehold on businesses ranging from real estate to fourth estate.
There seems to be consensus that as rivals, Kejriwal and Sidhu would damage each other. But the opinion is split on who would benefit: the Akalis or the Congress and whether Kejriwal can stem the party’s decline.
Adapted from an article by Vinod Sharma, Hindustan Times