With the culmination of Delhi University Students’ Elections (DUSU) elections, let’s look back and answer the age-old question : Is election manifesto more important than political ideology while voting? Or is it the opposite?

On 12th September, students from all over the University of Delhi (DU) gathered in their colleges to cast their votes for the annual DUSU elections. For the freshers, this was another step on their path towards being a part of a democracy. For the seniors, it was a chance to re-evaluate their choices and right the wrongs.

However, as the election season swings around, we find ourselves questioning whom to vote for. There is a rise in environmental issues related rallies, women development meetings, fee reduction movements – anything and everything that could help in gathering votes. Young men and women are seen standing outside the Vishwavidyalaya metro station distributing pamphlets expressing promises the parties make every year, and the Faculty of Arts keeps bustling with movements and speeches. It is here that we find ourselves questioning whom to vote for – do we vote for the party which we have believed in since we learned how to spell politics, or is it the party which promises to get us subsidised metro rides?

Ideologies become a part of our identity as we enter the politically active space that is DU. Students can be seen aligning themselves with the Saffron or associating with the Left in friendly conversations and college debates all over the campus. After all, political alignment helps in giving a sense of what a person believes in. Political ideologies, thus, serve as a compass that gives direction to both the candidates and the voters- not only politically, but also socially and economically. “To me, ideology matters. If a party is elected, their manifesto completion may be subjected to them, but their ideology will never change,” says Chhavi Bahmba, a student at Sri Venkateswara College.
“When I go out to vote, I look for whom I, as a person and as a part of my state, my country, my community identity, and my gender, can relate to the most. At the end of the day, every political party campaigns for the same thing but it’s their take on controversial issues that set them apart,” adds Faaria Hilaly, a first-year student from Miranda House.

In contrast, manifestos have been one of the most important bases to make a choice. While the issues and agenda of politics during the election are set much before the publishing of the manifesto, a manifesto serves as an official statement which lets us know what we might be getting, by getting them the iron throne. Similarly, the history of the developments by the party plays an equally important role in swaying the votes. While an attractive manifesto with a similar track of work could do wonders in moving the heaviest rocks, nothing is more unappealing than a poor track record. “I feel that their manifesto matters more, as does their history of work. It’s important to consider whether they work or just paint pretty pictures,” says Nighat, a student at Aryabhatta College.

“I had asked my parents to not vote for the party in power despite identifying with them, seeing how its economic measures have caused our business trouble. But they identify themselves too strongly with it,” adds an Economics student who did not wish to be named. “I think both are complementary to each other,” says Anshula Basil, a first- year student at Miranda House. Since an ideological stance can often be a privilege that arises out of socio-economic conditions, the manifesto we choose ends up becoming a better representation of what we want. Often, a manifesto is the result of an ideology pushed far. Which is why, on a closer look, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Satviki Sanjay

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Dr. Shashi Tharoor addressed the students of the University of Delhi (DU) in an event organised by the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and Kerala Students’ Union. He had a candid conversation with the students from topics ranging from communication blockade in Kashmir to the political rights of youth in India. He urged students to support NSUI in the upcoming elections in light of their campaign motto #AwaazUthaoSeetiBajao

The NSUI along with Kerala Students Union organised a student interaction session with Dr. Shashi Tharoor on 4th September. Being hosted at the Amitabh guest house in North Campus, the session saw huge participation from DU students. The Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections are scheduled for 12th September. Candidates filed their nomination on Wednesday and the final list of names was released on Thursday. Talking about Indian National Congress (INC) affiliated NSUI’s campaign ‘Awaaz Uthao, Seeti Bajao (Blow the whistle against injustice),’ Tharoor said, “The campaign is relevant since this is a government that suppresses whistleblowers. Somebody needs to raise their voice against inequality.”

During this interaction, Dr. Tharoor laid emphasis particularly on the youth political rights and spoke about bringing the age of candidacy to run elections down to 18 years. He said, “I believe that even 18-year-olds should be allowed to contest for different offices. In fact, I would even recommend a reservation for elected officials under 30. This is a young country and more young people should be in power,” He went on to say, “This government only specializes in sloganeering. There are no jobs and students who will soon be graduating from their colleges and looking for the jobs will be impacted most by it.”

Several questions were asked to Dr. Tharoor and he dealt with every question patiently. On being asked upon the communication blockade in Kashmir, he said, “What is happening in Kashmir is a travesty of democracy by completely subverting spirits of the constitution,” adding that he was “curious to see how the Supreme Court reacts to the petitions being filed on the matter.”

He further commented on the National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) Bill saying, “People who have been living here since 1971 have been called foreigners. They talk about Vivekananda and forget that it was Vivekananda who said that India was a place which offered place to persecuted people.” Tharoor also added that the Congress party is “doing everything it can” on the matter but “they have divided opinions on northeast.”

On being questioned about the current state of the Indian economy, Tharoor said that we should all be worried about it and that he couldn’t sugarcoat the truth. He said that the government has built its reputation on image making and that in reality; it is lying to the Indian public by manipulating the calculation of the GDP. He talked about how the agricultural sector is suffering; farmers are committing suicides, and the industrial sector’s output going down. He also talked about how demonetization was the worst thing that could have happened to our economy and how the government is campaigning their tax terrorism, making the common man suffer.

He then talked about how today mainstream media cannot be trusted because the businessmen that own them also have interests in other businesses that the government can influence. He told the students about the reality behind media suppression and said that journalists and editors are too scared today to pursue actual journalism since their job and life are on the line. He ended the discussion on media suppression in today’s political scenario, by talking about how today independent media with an online presence like The Wire, Scroll, and The Quint are more truthful and trustworthy than mainstream media.

Dr.Shashi Tharoor concluded the session by giving some advice to the students. He told them to not compete with others but with themselves; and that failure was a part of life, that without it there was no success.

Feature Image Credits: Rishabh Gogoi for DU Beat


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Juhi Bhargava

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On Tuesday, 27th August 2019, NSUI (National Students’ Union of India) inaugurated a campaign called “Aawaaz Uthao, Seeti Bajao” insisting students to “blow the whistle” against the prevailing inequality in University of Delhi.

According to statistics, there are 3,93,604 students in University of Delhi (DU). There exists a pervasive inequality between campuses, colleges, students (caste, region), linguistic (rural, urban), morning and evening colleges.

NSUI, with the help of this campaign, aims at eliminating this rampant disproportion between the students by focusing on the ideology of “One University, Equal Opportunity”. NSUI also successfully proclaimed how it fought for University of Delhi to be awarded the “Institute of Eminence” stature like several other educational institutions of the country and as a result of which, University of Delhi will henceforth get an additional INR 1000 crores from the government which is roughly INR 75000 extra per student, with which NSUI plans on ensuring equal educational opportunity for every student. Furthermore, NSUI ensured certain additional facilities like transportation and hostel for all, establishment of a common placement cell for students of every college, and a 24X7 available library. 

Apart from this, NSUI also publicised certain unfortunate and controversial cases of some members of the opposing party, ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidya Parishad).

Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament, Congress, said, “India has the largest youth population in the world; ensuring equal educational opportunity for them is a key government responsibility. But there’s rampant inequality at multiple levels even in the capital’s Delhi University. #AwaazUthaoSeetiBajao campaign aims to set it right.”

Ruchi Gupta, Joint Secretary, AICC and National in-charge, NSUI said, “The NSUI is committed to equal educational opportunity for all Indian youth. Our DUSU panel is reflective too of our commitment to women empowerment, social justice and equal opportunity across class and caste #AwaazUthaoSeetiBajao for an equal and egalitarian Delhi University”. (sic)

The campaign also acquired the support of India’s first boxer to win an Olympic medal, Vijender Singh.

Some students strongly believe that this idea of equality among students is unjust, as they believe that inequality prevails because some of them have worked harder than others and reached that level where they hold the privilege of better courses and better colleges, which makes them entitled to certain status and benefits. Contrary to which, other students have said “This idea of equality is an amazing initiative, as it will encourage harmony and sense of belongingness because it’s unfair to judge somebody’s capabilities on the basis of marks and measure their success, thus everybody deserves equal opportunity.” 

Feature Image Credits: NSUI Twitter

Avni Dhawan 

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National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) launches its Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) election campaign- “Awaaz Uthao, Seeti Bajao, (to blow the whistle against inequality)in a press conference on 27th August at the NSUI office in Raisana Road, New Delhi.

The NSUI stated that there is an unbridled inequality at several levels in the University of Delhi (DU) between the students (in terms of caste, religion, gender, etc), campuses, colleges and certain streams (science considered better than arts and commerce) which desists the youth from realising their full potential.

Speaking on the occasion, Neeraj Kundan, National President of the NSUI said that there are several inequalities existing in the DU in terms of campuses and colleges. “There is a major difference between the facilities available in the North Campus and South Campus of the university. Even within the North Campus, there are inequalities between colleges in terms of hostel facilities, different fees structure for same courses.”

Ruchi Gupta, the National In charge of the NSUI talked about the focus of the party’s campaign, “We are going to blow the whistle on inequality in Delhi University, and we are starting this as the beginning of a year-long campaign across the country to highlight unequal educational opportunities and inequality in our society and country.

The NSUI through its campaign aims to highlight and bring to notice every single occurrence of disparity on campus level, college level and between the students and demand that the University of Delhi fulfils the implicit promise of “One University, Equal Opportunities”.

In the wake of the election season, the campaign aims at being inclusive and promotes equality which might be beneficial for the NSUI.

Feauture Image Credits- Rishabh Gogoi for DU Beat

Abhinandan Kaul

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#MeToo is an initiative aimed to highlight how common and rampant assault and harassment are. Responses have poured in across social media emphasising how deep the problem is. What do we need to do to keep the movement alive?

A social media initiative to accent the stories of sexual harassment and assault, the #MeToo campaign has found resonating hearts throughout different ages, geographical boundaries, and backgrounds. It was started by Tarana Burke over ten years ago. The campaign was turned into a hashtag by American actress, producer, and activist, Alyssa Milano after Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, was accused of having sexually harassed and assaulted over thirty young models and actresses. The campaign has been trending on Twitter, Facebook and has even made waves on Instagram. Indeed, social media can play a very important role to fight patriarchy. In the words of Tarana Burke “Me Too is largely about empathy. We use a term called empowerment through empathy. It’s short and succinct but it’s powerful”. #MeToo has allowed thousands of people to speak out against sexual assault and has gained immense traction on social media.

While Trump became the American President despite several accusations of assault against him, in France prosecutors ruled that an eleven year old girl “consented” to have sex with a 28 year old. In India politicians continue to blame everything to the victims clothing, whilst the real perpetrator- egotistical men who don’t have any fear are never called out. Authorities continue to act as the agents of patriarchy, with problematic laws, delayed justice and corruption being the preferred methods of subjugation. Along with that, sexist films, and songs that objectify women are equally guilty of promoting harassment. The Me Too campaign should not be limited to sharing our stories; it should act as a reminder of why we need to crush the patriarchy, now more than ever.

 The #MeToo movement has highlighted the problem of assault and harassment across the globe.
The #MeToo movement has highlighted the problem of assault and harassment across the globe.

Me Too, has seen a fair degree of sceptics. While some people see it as a revolutionary movement that highlight how common sexual assault is; others see it as a way of focusing the harassment related narrative only to the victim. It is therefore even more important that we carry forward this responsibility and create awareness about sexual harassment and assault. We should be more thoughtful of our actions and of those around us: this would mean recognising and calling out people who make crude jokes, and show a discriminatory attitude towards women. By voicing our hurt, pain, and trauma we have set wheels to a movement that could redefine societal perception of victims and assault in the 21st century. It falls upon us to fearlessly speak up against any kind of victim-shaming and blaming. The Me Too movement will only be a success when we go above and beyond to fight for the cause of social justice and freedom from fear of harassment.

Feature Image Credits: Pinkvilla

Image Credits: Recode


Kinjal Pandey

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A 20 year old Rupali Rakheja, student of College of Vocational Studies (CVS), has recently started a campaign to create awareness about the illegal construction of a building using the wall of Zafar Mahal. The campaign’s name is ‘I Stand for Zafar Mahal’ and is being actively promoted on both, online and offline portals.

Image credits: www.hindustantimes.com

Zafar Mahal, which is located in South Delhi, is considered to be the last monumental structure built as a summer palace during the fading years of the Mughal Era. The building has two components namely, the Mahal or the palace and the entrance gate that was reconstructed in the 19th century by Bahadur Shah Zafar II. 

Rupali says, “Zafar Mahal is a significant monument. Not many palaces of the Mughal Era survive in the city. The palace is beautiful and must be saved.” The steps to stop the encroachment were taken as early as in March, but the campaign was kick-started in May and has gathered a lot of support. Authorities weren’t very helpful and nobody wanted to get into the matter. Thus, Rupali and her team of supporters are trying to make the campaign viral on the social media as to create pressure on the authorities and bring such a grave issue in the limelight.

Zafar Mahal

“We’ve written to everyone from the Prime Minister to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the Media and all others who we think can help” said Rupali. On being asked about the importance of heritage of India and whether she thinks this initiative will set an example for it she said, “I believe it is very important for all of us to recognise the importance of our heritage. Grown-ups may forget it sometimes but the youth should be vigilant. We need to make everyone understand that these monuments are our getaways to the past. And as someone very rightly said, if you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know who you are.”

Image credits: www.wikiwand.com
Nishita Agarwal
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In the first one month whatever impression you can get of your college sticks. Then, the Student Union campaigner promises to provide something even better than what exists. Delhi University has its own enthusiasts of politics. Every August-September the campaigning starts for the posts of the University President, Vice-President, Secretary and Joint-Secretary. Elections are fought at the university and college level.

The first image that is created about these student bodies is through their prepared, powerful speeches which they come and make in the middle of lectures (much to the teacher’s dislike). You’ll see them swearing by the name of Bhagat Singh, promising to bring in well known pop-singers for fests, explaining how they intend to revolutionize the name of your university or spelling out a detailed agenda on the improvement of college infrastructure .

Campaigning is a massive and overwhelming phenomenon. You enter the gate only to be surrounded by slogans of ‘vote for ballot no. 1, 2, 5 etc.’ Flyers and posters crowd the walls and even the very air as party devotees fling leaflets bearing millions of promises over the heads of the thronging students. The doors, walls and blackboards are covered in scribbles and contribute their bit to the campaign, working along with the slogan-beating and posters on the ‘wall of democracy’. Hostellers are compulsorily made to join in the campaigning and voting process. Many friends and relatives also join in to lend their support to the campaigning parties.

Whether a normal student is concerned about the voting process is a valid question. Much to the ire of the party heads the election days are for the most part treated as holidays. Very few people turn up to vote, and of the few that do the majority are still the friends and supporters of the contestants. However a lot of first years tend to turn up out of curiosity. Perhaps a little more effort in interacting and engaging with the students could improve the turnover. In any case the celebration is a grand one, usually involving the playing of a dhol and much dancing.

The student elections are fought keenly and with great enthusiasm. In the past, several of the office bearers of the Delhi University Students Union have gone on to hold public offices in State and Central governments. The elections to DUSU are by direct voting by the students of the University and member colleges. A few contestants are so keen to enter politics in the long-run that they often do a second graduation just to get that break.

This year we hope to see even more work being done by the new Union, a cutback on union brawls and of course even better organization of fests, though last year’s University fest was considered to be pretty near perfect.

In any case all students should make sure to participate in the elections this time around, if only to exercise their right to vote.