Is being in oblivion the hallmark of today’s youth? The poor attendance in many events particularly in the academic and quasi-academic realm in campuses, suggests so. Today’s Students can be referred to as digital natives who end up spending most of their time on their mobile phones, computers, game consoles, digital music players, video cameras, as well as the Web itself. These digital natives are so engrossed in the web, that they are completely unaware about the joy and experience of meeting and interacting with someone who has a unique experience or enhanced qualification. Obviously, insight into new knowledge, skills, attitudes and an overall expansion of one’s range of interests, activities, and awareness is given a total miss.
The trigger to pen this expression of angst on this lackadaisical attitude of students in treating such events with disdain was the dismally poor turnout of students on January 05, 2023 when Padmashri Dr Kiran Seth, 73-year-old Founder of SPIC MACAY, visited IIITB enroute his epic cycling trip from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The 73-year-old emeritus Professor of IIT Delhi who was on a noble mission definitely deserved better treatment and dignity. The 1000 plus seater auditorium was virtually empty, with only a handful of students attending the interactive session with the eminent guest who is no less than a Hero to have bicycled over 3000 Km crisscrossing several states. A detailed investigation revealed that at the time of the event, over 75% of students who were present in the campus (and had no other classes or exams to attend) were actually in their rooms, perhaps whiling away their time. Well, the unhappy truth is 73-year old Dr Kiran Seth was not trendy enough to motivate the students, neither his superhuman cycling effort was. The official notifications and social media blitzkrieg done for the event had a zero impact.
This is the same story even for serious academic learning opportunities offered to students virtually on a platter. Talks by Subject matter experts of very high repute from the field of Computer Science and ECE not only receive poor responses but also in a few cases we had 99% absenteeism. The concerned Professors who organize the event with great difficulty are often at pains to pass a word around after the guest speaker has arrived at the designated time when the hall is virtually empty. Then, there is a trickle of students who arrive with a tangible body language of forced agony.
This lack of desire for an intellectual mind is a grave issue as it promotes a more narcissistic personality amongst students. When students take part in numerous events outside the scope of normal study, they’ll get the chance to investigate a scope of interests that they never have realized they had! Additionally, enhancing inclinations along these lines widens their perspectives, and yes it broadens their horizon.
As the next generation of problem solvers, it may be smart for students to take a second glance at their phones before searching for cat memes on Instagram. Shifting their focus from a virtual world to real global concerns or by just not being oblivious to what is happening in their vicinity may be a less irrational use of time.
Whilst the faculty and administrators in the institute grapple with this problem, my unsolicited advocacy too students would be to venture beyond the confines of their mobile or computer screens in order that they expand the horizons of their utmost destiny.
There will always be those who feel more comfortable not venturing from the warmth of the hearth, but there are those who prefer to look out of the window and wonder what is beyond the horizon and taste the sweet aroma of success.
-by Commodore SR Sridhar