The University of Delhi is known throughout the country as a hub of free thought, expression, and its political culture. However, how does reality influence students who are new to the University?
When it comes to left-leaning students and students believing in the ideology of the left-wing, initial stages of being in DU might seem like you joined the wrong University. With ABVP and RSS hooligans everywhere and the sense of fear that comes with them, believing in communism might seem impossible in DU, however, that is not so.
Another thought that I had before I entered the gates of DU, is the left gatekeeping or looking down on people who do not believe in communism or might not have the same level of knowledge. Political leaning to me does not indicate whether one should be critical of the government or not, because fascism is not a part of either ideology. I was fully expecting to meet these performative snobby leftists when I came to DU, but for me, it was not so. People from the left that I have met in my college, collective, and AISA have all been welcoming and supportive, I have never been looked down upon because of a lack of understanding. On the other hand, people have helped me with resources and information to expand my knowledge of my ideology.
However, coming back to the idea of the pretentious “woke” leftist who gatekeeps an ideology meant for the common man, even though I haven’t come face to face with such people, I have noticed them online and in protests. One example of ill-thought activism is privileged students of a university handing flowers to police at a police brutality protest; instances and people like these do take up our sphere, which inevitably leads to less space in our forums for marginalized and less privileged voices.
With academics, comes a greater understanding of the texts of Marx and The Communist Manifesto, decoding and gaining a deeper understanding, only lead to the strengthening of my political beliefs. Finding the right people and groups can make you more aware of the intricacies of the cause you believe in, and DU is the perfect space. This also leads to the argument that the ideologies of Marx have certain linguistic and academic barriers, and the need to break them down to people who might not have the same resources as we do, but coming to DU can still be freeing for many.
“Unlike what convention dictates, politics for me wasn’t only about power. Being a woman candidate who had curfew timings at home, campaigning during the night was freedom for me. Contesting elections not only made me more aware about politics but helped me explore myself too. It gave me greater enthusiasm to keep the struggle going to restore democracy in academic spaces, and exercise my freedom of speech and expression.”Damni Kain, Presidential candidate of AISA (All India Student’s Association) in 2019, writes about her experience for LiveWire.
Coming to DU can be an eye-opener for some with regard to their political beliefs. On the other hand, higher academia could enhance your knowledge of the political ideology that you lean towards. With all the fallacies that do afflict DU, the vibrant and diverse nature of the University will help shape your political beliefs and ideas on what is right and wrong.
(This story is part of a series that aims to understand the influence of the University’s environment on Students’ Political Expression. To read a contrasting article, click here.
Feature Image Credits: The Libertarian Republic
Prabhanu Kumar Das