Youth in Action, July-August 2018

From the July-August 2018 issue of News & Letters

By Buddy Bell

In Delhi, nearly 1,000 college-age youth jammed a street in front of the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) when official exam questions were found on social media Feb. 28. Despite government efforts to close down train stations, bathrooms and internet reception near the area, the protest went on. By March 6, an investigation was ordered, but 500 students remained camped out, demanding that all tainted exams be repeated. Deepak Prajapati, 26, said: “My father is a farmer, and I have taken a loan from friends for extra classes. I have also spent three years preparing for the exams, but some students get through them on the basis of money power and by cheating. It is demoralizing.” Protesters called a temporary stop after 18 days of scorching sun but 3,000 came back on March 31 to also demand the resignation of the SSC director and that Prime Minister Modi provide sufficient jobs for unemployed youth. Police chased and attacked the youth with sticks, arresting 200.

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Students at Michigan State University in East Lansing held a rally on March 5, in which more than 500 people stood in opposition to Richard Spencer, a speaker of the Alt-Right movement. In an action organizers described as self-defense against Spencer’s advocacy of genocide and hate crimes, several demonstrators locked arms to form chains between a parking lot and a pavilion where Spencer was about to speak. Like a game of “Red Rover,” they tried to prevent the entry of attendees but were pushed by police on bikes. When Spencer declined to appear, the event was cancelled.

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After Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega introduced pension and social security cuts while increasing a payroll tax, university students held a street protest in the capital, Managua, on April 18. Student Pablo Sánchez told Al Jazeera: “I’m indignant that my grandparents will receive 5% less of their already anemic pension….That’s not money being lent, that’s money they paid in.” By the second day of growing protests, government forces opened fire, and about 200 demonstrators were besieged inside a cathedral. In light of this, students took over several university buildings, barricading themselves inside. Ortega revoked the cuts on June 22, but by then protesters were demanding his resignation over government crackdowns whose death toll was in the hundreds by July. The country is now awash in roadblocks and general strikes occurring from León to Matagalpa to Masaya.

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