Edward Snowden? Who? This was the response from some students of city colleges when their views on the American whistle blower, who is in the thick of news was sought. But then there were students who knew who Edward Snowden was and even have a opinion on what he did while there were some others who have heard about the issue, though the name did not ring a bell.
Most students, who knew about him, agreed with what he did and justified his leaking the secret about US spying on others, saying that he was right about revealing information that the public should know, because they feel as public we have the right to know what is going on.
But some students stressed on patriotism. “What he did is absolutely wrong; there is no question about that. He breached the code and the work ethics. He is a criminal, no doubt, its good India did not take him in because we already have enough criminals,” said Prashanth, a second year student at Anna University.
Then there were students, among those interviewed, who were indifferent and who knew things but preferred to keep quiet. Some students, reacting to questions on Snowden, pointed out the lack of support from the older generation on issues in which the youth were proactive. “India’s youth have always been well informed compared to those in other countries, but we do not have the backup system to fight against most of the issues as we are still a conservative society. The youth in India are well aware and it is reflected through the social networks,” said a third year student.
“Even in the recent Sri Lankan issue we had organised a protest and a lot of students had gathered. But the very next week we had exams, so the students started to lose interest in the protest because in our society college is meant as a gateway for a better job and life. So the real issue starts to look smaller than temporary things,” said Balaji, a ME student in Anna University.
Many students went on to say that it was the lack of media attention that has made the youth indifferent to the Snowden issue. “In the case of Delhi’s Nirbhaya case, there was a lot of media attention. That is directly reflected in the youth. But in this case, the media has not highlighted the issue sufficiently. So, in spite of the fact that this is an issue which affects the youth, most people are indifferent to it. In future, it will be us who will have to bear the brunt of all the snooping and restrictions on internet freedom,” said Sneha Menon, a history student .
But others went on to add that unless it is something that affects them directly, the youth in the country are hardly interested. “You talk about something like rape, which directly affects us, then we go out on to the streets. But if it is something that has to do with other countries, most people are not bothered,” said Richu Rajendran, a student of English literature.