As Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) set the line of protest and pave the way to resistance and agitation, how morally appropriate is it to attend fests and celebrate?
University of Delhi (DU) has been synonymous with its celebrity-laden, pompous, over the top exuberant range of cultural fests. Freshers eagerly await for the fest season like the rest of us wait for the waiter to bring food to our table. Come even semester, all Students’ Unions gear up to seek sponsorships, chase celebrities, and promote, promote, promote! The hype, experiences, and enthusiasm surely shape a DU student’s course of study and social relationships.
However, the country has been in a problematic and controversial state since the past few months. Amidst members of our own student fraternity as AMU, JNU, and JMI set the line of protest and pave the way to resistance and agitation, how morally appropriate is it to attend fests and celebrate? DU has been at the forefront of political mobilisation, dissent and protest since time immemorial. Taunts of “degree protest mein kar rahe ho kya” (Are you pursuing your degree in protests?) remains a constant as we take to the streets.
Keeping in mind DU’s legacy and staying in solidarity with India’s depreciating democracy, several colleges have voiced their concerns over not organising a fest. Tarang, annual cultural fest of Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) remained at the centre of a controversy as several General Body Meetings later, Tarang remains “deferred until further notice.” Prashansa, a member of the Students’ Union of LSR told DU Beat earlier that LSR must look beyond the factor of enjoyment and overlook their apathy, indifference and insensitivity. The Students’ Union of LSR released an official statement expressing “that they do not feel appropriate to have Tarang at this point given that it
revolves around a sense of enjoyment by having pro nights and food fests.”
Ullas, annual cultural fest of Kamala Nehru College too met with contention, voices clashed for and against the
celebrations, however, preparations for the same are in full flow. As proponents of those favouring the celebrations, the fests elevate to a platform to dissent. A platform to voice their opinions and criticise through the medium of art, culture, and music.
Gargi College’s Reverie 2020, witnessed a political art mural which was later asked to be removed by the principal claiming it to be “too political.” The mural which expressed solidarity with activists like Akhil Gogoi, and Chandrashekhar Azad, voiced the students’ stance on CAA. When authorities shun and open platforms curb the freedom of speech and expression, how morally correct is it to swing to the tunes, swipe at the tips and splurge on tastes?
However, keeping DU’s diversity and heterogeneity in mind, not all of them think alike. Avni Dhawan, a
student of Kamala Nehru College is of the opinion that there is no point in cancelling college fests. “There are
always going to be issues with the government and the country. There’s a reason for annual fests and it’s to give
students a break and make memories in college. There are a lot of ways to express your dissent and solidarity with those suffered, which involves actual help and involvement. Fests took place last year when we lost 40 soldiers in Pulwama attack, where did the “solidarity” go then? If you really want to do something good, don’t just cancel fests and sit with a pout face to show your “anger”, donate your fest funding to those in need and those who suffered from
political turmoils, otherwise, don’t come up with these publicity stunts.”
As colleges celebrated while the country was protesting, Nandini Sukhija, a student of Mumbai University encourages a small act of acknowledgement to be enough to show solidarity with a nationwide movement. “I personally do not mind the idea of fests going on at a time of political turmoil because it is almost impossible to choose a time when some form of injustice is not happening somewhere.”
The next time you lose yourself in the crowd at a fest, stop. Ponder. Introspect. Question. Where should DU draw a
line between festivities and politics?
Featured Image Credits: Vaibhav Tekchandani for DU Beat