The All India Students’ Association has released a ‘report card’ on the conditions of the University of Delhi (DU) in four years of the Modi-led government. Culled from a common survey form distributed across various colleges of DU, the report claims that the University has “rejected the Modi government” and that it has “failed”.
In a ceremony attended by President of the DU unit of the All India Student’s Association (AISA) Kawalpreet Kaur, former President of the Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA) Nandita Narain, and almost two hundred AISA members, Ms. Narain unveiled the report along with Ms. Kaur. The survey form which featured questions on the state of hostels on campus, issues of transportation, gender violence, infrastructure development and academic freedom among others was reportedly distributed to 21,456 students. AISA claims in its press release that only 19% (4056) of the respondents had said that they were satisfied with the Modi government.
Ms. Narain raised several issues in her speech such as the cuts in JNU research seats in 2017-18 by the Academic Council, the loan-granting system of Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) and the debate on autonomy and privatisation and the recent assault on Assistant Professor Sanjay Kumar at Mahatma Gandhi Central University. “Wherever you students have any movement or any programme, the teachers will always try to extend their support to you…all for one, and one for all will be our motto. Only then can we save this country,” Ms. Narain added.
Later, members of the AISA also launched a rally across the various colleges of North Campus and entered Ramjas College, Hindu College and the Faculty of Law with heavy sloganeering such as, “Arre Dekho Kaise Jhoom Ke Aya, AISA! AISA!” (See how we come dancing now, AISA! AISA!).
Through an official press release, Kawalpreet Kaur said, “It is clear that DU students believe that this regime has been the worst and should be ousted from both the centre as well as DUSU…We appeal to all anti-ABVP forces to come together to give a strong message against the anti-student Modi government and defeat the ABVP in the DUSU elections.”
A Different Kind of Question
Priyanka Chawri, former Vice President of DUSU talked to DU Beat about the rally taken out by AISA. In a telephonic conversation, she categorically denied that the ABVP was linked to the BJP and stressed that in many instances, the ABVP has criticised BJP’s policies. Regarding AISA’s jab at gathering “anti-ABVP forces” to “defeat the ABVP”, she said, “The DUSU elections is about the students and the students of DU vote in these elections. So there are no ABVP forces. There are only normal students who will vote for you based on what agenda you have. So I think AISA should work on its agenda and enlighten the students about what they would do if they came to power instead of leading an anti-ABVP campaign.”
“As far as the work of ABVP-led DUSU is concerned, everyone is aware of how ABVP was instrumental in getting the sanitary napkin pad nationwide campaign in process…We have already started our campaign and we are getting very positive and immense support from students,” Ms. Chawri added.
According to several sources, however, the questions in the survey contained statistics that favoured certain kinds of answers. One source at Ramjas College, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The survey put facts before each question. I didn’t have time to go through each number and verify the legitimacy of each question, but it did come to me as a surprise, given AISA’s liberal reputation…that they did not truly cater to the true essence of conducting a survey.” An instance of such questions can be: In the last four years, metro fares have been hiked by 100%, thereby forcing students to pay more than INR 100 per day on transportation. Are you satisfied with this state of transportation facility? (Yes/No). An anonymous source at Miranda House said “The survey sheet had already declared what is right and what is wrong. So, a lot of people had to tick mark only one option. I think they could have raised the issue and left it on the people to judge what was correct.” However, Navneet Khubber, a student at Miranda House, said, “I think that the survey form prompted the respondents towards a certain direction but I think that the questions were well-chosen.”
Another source said, “Even if I could clearly see the questions in their questionnaire leading to certain conclusions, I don’t think those conclusions were based on wrong principles. Since the purpose of this survey, unlike an academic survey, is not neutral, it wanting you to arrive at certain conclusions is not essentially problematic in itself. Also, AISA is doing amazing work in the case of metro passes which the ABVP is trying to pass off as their own work.”A few other sources also mentioned how they could not relate to questions regarding transportation and infrastructure since the levels of such costs differed widely across the student community of the University.
AISA’s questionnaire, therefore, seemed to have raised a lot more questions than answers and these answers need to be sought in the future.
Feature Image Credits: Adithya Khanna