Saturday, March 6, 2010

Is fulfillment of personal responsibility a way towards attainment of freedom? - Questions that arose during campus life in JNU

Through out the four semesters of the masters programme, the amazing flamboyance of an unorganised content of JNU campus life raised a fundamental question - "Does freedom mean lack of responsibility?" or "Can fulfillment of personal responsibility be a way towards attainment of freedom?". The wonderful days of hostel life in JNU and an ingrained cosmopolitan nature of the campus allowed everybody to pursue their own lifestyles without any interjection from anybody. Simultaneously there was also presence of strong micro community culture with various state specific representations and cross cultural intersparsed groups through out the campus .

Such micro community cultures if managed and maintained properly can always generate huge amount of social capital. Personally, I benefitted a lot being part of some of such micro communities one of which was based in our hostel room no - Jhelum 2. We in Jhelum 2 always shared our joys, sorrows, pains and often frustrations, anguishes together and the room was a witness to most of these human shades. The generosity of JNU campus life always gave us the freedom to have a relaxed time may be often shrugging some of our responsibilities of studying hard to pay back the loyalty towards tax payers money that is being used to fund our masters training in the premier institution.

Every time I introspected and realised that I have not been able to give the full effort to learn a credit course (often may be by attending too many hostel nights and watching too many Friday PVR night show releases at PVR priya complex), the question that emerged was whether this freedom is the real freedom. Because somewhere in the path of attainment of this freedom there was an opportunity cost of not giving the full effort of fulfilling personal responsibility. The two basic questions that emerged were - a) What is freedom to me in a campus life and what are the boundaries of that freedom? and b) What is the boundary of personal responsibility to me?

To be honest, the answer to the second question (in the first semester of the masters programme) was that as long as I am able to fulfill my personal responsibility in terms of managing my own studying, living expenses and finishing credit courses for getting financial independence in the form of a job, I was fulfilling personal responsibility. So by prioritising and balancing that first I was choosing a definition of freedom for myself. As said earlier, these two definitions of freedom and responsibility was very specific to me in the first two semesters. Gradually I realised, the vision was myopic and responsibility doesnot stop over there and in a campus like JNU which is the mirror of India in someways, responsibility has a social affiliation also. It means taking a little more commitment towards the subject, towards the system of learning a subject and finding out a path of emancipation through this system of learning which gives a huge sense of freedom through gathering knowledge (which doesnot end only in the exam sheets of the mid sem and end sem) by observing things around us in the campus. Once that path could be attained there is a huge sense of happiness that develops inside and one gets a sense of freedom. Knowledge gathering and its application towards social issues in the community domains of a campus life could really be one of the ways of fulfilling personal responsibility paving the way for attainment of freedom and happiness. Such freedom and happiness can generate leaders in the subject of social science and it might not always have to be through the orientation of a political affiliation and institution. The leadership quality can come by being more committed to the process of learning the science of a subject and applying them in day to day life during a masters programme with a positive attitude and sense of transparency, openness and accountability.

I was myopic in my learning process in the first two semesters, but today after almost more than 6 years of out of campus life, I dream strongly of the days when our future generation would come out as visionary leaders of social science by practising attainment of freedom through knowledge gathering and its application in campus life.

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