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Parental guidance

Parents are now supporting their teenagers who are taking to the streets in protest, going against the stereotype. However, exceptions are still there

“Don’t go out during the wee hours of the night,” “Come back in time”, “You’re not allowed to go there” — every Indian child, be it a teenager or young adult, has faced these statements from their parents at some point in their lives, be it while going out with friends or on a college excursion.

Souparna, a student of Jadavpur University too faced the same. “My parents have always been strict when it comes to me going out,” she says. “You know how it is with girls, and the current situation of women safety in the country, they are bound to be worried,” she justifies. There has always been a curfew time on her return, and whenever she is out she receives a number of calls – one almost every 15 minutes to know her whereabouts.

This has been her first year in Jadavpur University, a place that is known to be a hotbed of student politics in the country. Quite naturally, she says, she got embroiled in causes and campus politics, which her parents did not whole heartedly approve of. However, during the Babul Supriyo-Jadavpur fiasco,  she saw a shift in her parents’ attitude.

“This whole incident happened and my university was labelled as a hotbed of anti-nationals and they even threatened to bomb the campus. I just couldn’t keep quiet and wanted to join in the protests,” she says. To her surprise, one day her father came to her room and asked if she is joining the protest that was going to happen the next day. “When I replied that I intended to, he just nodded and said ‘You should’”. Souparna says that she was shocked to see her father encouraging her to join a protest. “Not even in my wildest dreams did I see this coming”.

“My parents simply told me that it was the right thing to do, and that they always support the causes that can help in the betterment of our society,” she says, her voice filled with pride.

However, she thought that during the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, her parents would not approve of her joining it because of the violence that was spreading all over the country. However, here too, her parents readily agreed, saying that it was all for a cause, which they also whole heartedly supported.

For Shalini studying in Hyderabad Central University, it was her mother who encouraged her to join the protest against the CAA. “I am the lazy kind. I prefer to sit back and relax and have never been involved in protests, even though I whole-heartedly support the cause.”

It was one fine morning after the Jamia violence incident that her mother called her up and asked her what she was doing. “When I told her that I was lazing around on my hostel bed, she shouted at me saying, ‘Don’t you know what’s happening in the country?’

It was she who persuaded Shalini to go and join the protest. When Patriot spoke to her mother, Shyamali, she said “It is a parent’s duty to urge her child to stand up for something which is not right, and I just did my duty”.

Twitter user Sara Farooqui wrote on her feed: “A friend has taken her 13-year-old daughter to a protest today. When I asked her if she was sure, she texted back, “This is the world she is growing up in. She needs to know what it means to stand up for something, and speak up against hate.”

A few days ago, the police chief of Uttar Pradesh in a press conference asked parents of protestors “to counsel” their children who were going against the CAA. These parents show that they are counselling their wards, but in a way not intended by him.

So, it is quite evident that parents nowadays have taken to the right side, when it comes to supporting their children for the right cause. Gone are the days, when they used to stop you at every step. Or is it?

Payal (name changed), who lives in Delhi away from her home in Kolkata, says that her parents vehemently oppose the idea of her going to protests, as “they fear that my life would be at risk”. She says that she feels her parents are too worried, and this stops her from going on to show her support for the right causes even though she wants to.

“My father asked me not to go to office and stay at home when the protests were going on full throttle in the city, and I had no choice but to listen to him,” she says with disappointment.

“My mother creates a ruckus at home even if I mention that I want to join the protest. She says that what is happening in the country is not my headache and hence I should not be involved in ‘illegal activities”, says Prakash (name changed), a student of Delhi University. He says that he always lies to his parent and goes out to protest, whether it is against the CAA or the fee hike of JNU.

In a more famous example, Sana Ganguly, daughter of BCCI president Sourav Ganguly posted a status on Instagram, quoting an excerpt from Khushwant Singh’s The End of India, which describes the effects of a fascist government and compares the RSS to fascists.

This created quite a stir and received a lot of support for the courage she had shown, but later the post got deleted, and her father even came out with a statement asking people to keep Sana out of it, as she was “too young to understand politics.”

But there will always be such examples. What is important is that there are parents who are supporting their children and one can see many people of the older generation coming out in support of their children studying at various universities like Jamia Milia Islamia.

Thus, the dialogue of the 2019 movie Uri-The surgical strike: “Yeh naya Hindustan hai” (This is a new India)” suits best here. ,