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The Obsession with Student Politics in India: A case of Delhi University

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Politics has played a major role in the Indian frame for a long time, and we explore its obsession branching out in the student arena as well.

Election season is over but the hype, controversy and the obsession with student politics brims over hot brews of coffee debating and general angst.

The past few years have noticed a consistent increase in the role the student bodies play in the circuit of Delhi University. Delhi University’s Students Union [DUSU] is the representative body for most of the faculties and colleges. The hierarchy also includes the internal students union in every college, with elections being held every year for office-bearing positions. Ever since 1954, the Delhi University’s Students Union [DUSU] has peaked prominence in the university. One of the key factors being is the expanse of the varsity. Being one of India’s largest universities, it serves as a great plethora for younger generations to express their viewpoints in a different light. These bodies are backed by different political parties.

Campus activism in the words of T.K. Oomen in his book Asian Survey, “is one of the pet areas in the research in contemporary social science. However, the nature of student politics and government is rarely studied”. The DU campus is blessed with serenity until the election season hits in. there is chaos and loyalty battles wrung out, with roads synonymous with lying pamphlets and college walls echoing with slogans. The case of Indian students’ union politics or student parliaments is quite different compared to its western contemporaries.

While the major touch-point for being actively involved in a student’s union means the adequacy for a good and experienced political career in the future, a lot of the nuisance created here is not prevalent there. While student bodies have a variety of tasks enrolled within, there is a big difference in the varsity student unions abroad and here. For starters, the students union elected has representative halls, like the George Sherman Union in Boston University or the up and coming promising members of the Yale College Council. Compared to the American and Western counterpart, our student unions are still emerging but are we convalescing in the shackles of unclear domains when it comes to politics? Are our student unions a reflection of the un-impressive struggle Indian politics has faced coming into the purview of the world?

The obsession of student politics can be traced to the source of power and authority, a pre-requisite to self-sufficiency in a now emerging Indian youth. While politics still stands as an attractive career option in the Indian domain, there are certain criticisms attached to the political situation and the trend of familial politics which has been extending an arm ever since the British Raj.  In a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald, an interesting view-point of Indian politics was given notice stating, “In India politics is not a vocation, but a family business.” Continuing with his argument, Amrit Dhillon also comments that Whichever party you look at, in every part of India, nepotism is rampant. Merit, a record in public life, knowledge, skills, character, are all irrelevant. If you have the right surname, you will get a ticket.”

While just politics in a global scenario is still long miles away, it is safe to say that there are pros and cons both attached to the increasing importance to the student bodies in India. While it still is ushering up in other universities, the Delhi University scenario places a good observation and argument as to where we stand when it comes to student parliament bodies, and their role in the overall national hierarchy of democracy.

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Feature Image Credits:  DU Beat 

Avnika Chhikara

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I was feminist before I knew what the word meant.

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