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An event by the student group ‘Brahmins of DU’, sponsored by the University of Delhi, was supposed to be held on May 10, 2024, i.e., Friday. However, the event faced protests from the left-bloc of student politics, alleging casteist and discriminatory sentiments, causing the event to be consequently canceled.

In the continual skepticism over the democratic nature of Delhi University and the inherent ‘saffronization’ and ‘brahmanization’ that is allegedly being promoted by the university, there was yet another DU-Admin-sponsored event organized by the student wing, ‘Brahmins of DU’. The university-wide association announced an event titled ‘Brahmins and the Tapestry of Hindu Civilization: Weaving Bhartiya Heritage and Calling Astikas to Fulfill Rșiṛṇa  that was programmed to take place on May 10, 2024, at the Conference Center of the North Campus, along with a campus-wide ‘Shobha Yatra‘ on the same day.

The event received widespread backlash from the student community, citing its alleged casteist approach. This was further vitalized by claims from Professor Abha Dev Habib, an Assistant Professor at DU, who, in conversation with EdexLive, cited a recent example of how events are being ‘policed’ and ‘restricted’ and a poetry reading session on the Palestinian crisis that was supposed to be held on April 15 was canceled by the university ‘without citing any valid reason’. In opposition to the event by ‘Brahmins of DU’, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), under the umbrella of Humans of DU, organized a parallel event on the same date, i.e., May 10, 2024, at the Arts Faculty. The event organized was a photo exhibition and open mic themed around the ‘Saffronization’ of DU and against the ‘Normalization of Casteist Politics on the Campus’. Students university-wide joined the event in solidarity with the cause and presented their ideas, pieces, and writings, and the words of prominent Dalit writers like Omprakash Valmiki were also echoed.

Aditi, State Committee Member SFI Delhi, adds about how the undertakings in the university are a “direct reflection of the societal tapestry of our country”, expressing her fear over an ‘uncertain future’ wherein incidents like the “recent TISS debacle could be replicated in Delhi University”. She further states that, with opposition events like this:

 we will not let them destroy the dissent, debate, and other progressive nature of our campus.

Besides SFI, the All India Student Association, AISA, also made a post on Instagram condemning the event, stating:

Their ideologies promote hatred, discrimination, and division, which directly contradict the values of equality, solidarity, and social justice.

While the SFI Event was an alleged success in presenting their opposition to the events and undertakings held by the group Brahmins of DU, the event organized by Brahmins of DU did not materialize. In a consequent press release, SFI states that fervent backlash and dissent from “progressive student pressure groups” and political bodies compelled the administration to call off the event organized by ‘Brahmins of DU’ eventually.

Read Also: TISS Scholar Suspended for Two Years Due to ‘Anti-National Acts’ and Protests Outside Parliament

Featured Image Credits: SFI Official Instagram

Shikhar Pathak

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In a swift response, Delhi University takes action against a staff member accused of sexual harassment, reflecting a commitment to student welfare. As students rally for justice at the Central Institute of Education, officials ensure a thorough investigation by the Internal Complaints Committee, prioritizing safety and transparency.

The University of Delhi’s Establishment Branch has terminated the employment of a non-teaching staff member who was allegedly involved in the sexual harassment of a student at the Central Institute of Education (CIE) earlier this month. The incident occurred in the Department of Education’s new building, per the student’s official complaint with the Head and Dean of CIE. The defendant is alleged to have engaged in several inappropriate behaviors, such as unwanted approaches, invasive personal inquiries, and acts that created a great deal of discomfort and fear for the student’s safety.

The student has asked for her peers’ support, expressing how the encounter violated and deeply distressed her. She also expressed fear for her safety because the harasser was walking around the department unhindered. Students came together to plan a demonstration at CIE on Wednesday to support the student’s right to justice.

The Indian Express was notified by Pankaj Arora, Head and Dean of CIE, that the Internal Complaints Committee was notified of the student’s complaint as soon as it was received on Monday. The accused, who worked for the company under a contract, was let go early on Wednesday.

We have engaged in extensive discussions with the students and have assured them that the university’s ICC will handle the matter with care.” Arora said in response to the protest.

While the ICC investigates the case, questions remain about the student’s ongoing safety and the support system available. Did the University offer counselling services or connect her with external support groups specializing in trauma recovery? Transparency regarding the ICC process would also be beneficial. What are the expected timelines for the investigation? Are there resources readily available to explain the process to students involved in such cases?

The case is presently under review by the ICC, and until the process concludes, it would be challenging to disclose specific details of the proceedings.” said DU Proctor Rajni Abbi.

The Students’ Union or other student committees at CIE likely played a crucial role in supporting the student and organizing the protest. Including a statement from a student representative would amplify the students’ voice and highlight the collective stand against harassment. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the prevalence of sexual harassment in educational settings. By creating a culture of support, ensuring a fair and transparent investigation process, and implementing robust prevention programs, universities can foster safe learning environments where every student feels empowered and respected.

Read Also: Where are you ICC: Looking at DU’s History of Sexual Harassment 

Featured Image Credits: India TV News

Divya Malhotra

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On March 8, 2024, the ABVP – led DUSU (Delhi University Students Union) announced an initiative where 10 women would assume the role of DUSU President for one day each, commencing from the first day of Navratri, April 9.

Having begun on the first day of Navratri i.e. April 9, 2024, the ABVP-led Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) announced a commendable initiative where 10 women students will be chosen for the role of DUSU President for a day each.

The names of the 10 students were selected from a competition wherein the participants were asked to write an article on “The Role of Women in Making Viksit Bharat”. Tushar Dedha, DUSU President, took to his Instagram on April 5, sharing the official list of names of the 10 selected students which included Isha Awana (Department of Hindi), Akshita Johar (Ramjas College), Sophiya (Swami Shraddhanand College), Anshita Chauhan (Daulat Ram College), Deeksha Lingayath (Sri Venkateswara College), Ankita Anand (Centre for Hindu Studies), Zainab Nigar (Hansraj College), Shyama Arunbhai Trivedi (SPM College), Preeti Singh Nain (Kirori Mal College), and Sakshi Patel (Satyawati College), who served as the first DUSU President on April 9, as a part of the campaign. She is a third year B.A. Programme student hailing from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, and aims to help financially weak students through her position.

Preeti Singh Nair, the second DUSU President under the campaign, spoke to DU Beat about her selection and how it aims to empower women while increasing their participation in politics to bring about a change not just at the University level but even at the national level in the future.

We have the incredible opportunity to learn about DUSU’s functioning and receive valuable insights into student politics. This campaign in itself sends an important message as it aims to empower women students to hold political offices at the national level, as it gave every selected student the space to put forth major problems in our colleges before the union. Personally, I felt incredibly happy, although surprised, to have received this opportunity out of more than 5000 students who had participated in the competition. Having witnessed the lack of inclusive and accessible spaces for PWD (persons with disabilities) students in most DU colleges, including mine, I wish to use this opportunity to bring about major changes and take a stand to make our campuses inclusive and accessible for all. – Preeti Singh Nair, the second DUSU President 

In conversation with the media, Tushar Dedha, added that these one-day DUSU presidents will have all the powers of the chair to take decisions and issue any notice concerning students during their term.

On each day of the Navratri, a woman will head the DUSU as its President, exhibiting Nari Shakti. We have taken this initiative to promote women’s representation in student politics. 

Read Also: After WRB, Gender-Based Representation in DU’s Student Unions Too?

Featured Image Credits: Arush for DU Beat

Gauri Garg

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With the recent acquittal of former Delhi University Professor G.N. Saibaba after a torturous 10 years of imprisonment under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), we take a look at one of the most important tools in the market of India’s barely-there-democracy: the UAPA.

In the Athenian State of 621 BCE, lived a statesman named Draco. Draco prescribed death for all criminal offences. Laws that were written in blood, not ink. Think of the word ‘draconian’ named after this infamous statesman, but in the Indian context, and perhaps what comes to mind is the notorious Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967. 

Student activist Umar Khalid spent a total of three years behind bars in Tihar, with his bail pleas rejected consistently. The case moved from bench to bench. 84-year-old Stan Swamy, booked under the Bhima Koregaon case during his imprisonment, had asked for a sipper and straw in jail, citing Parkinson’s disease. It took the authorities a month to approve his request. On July 5, 2021, he passed away in jail, still awaiting trial. Journalist Siddique Kappan, on his way to cover the Hathras rape case, was arrested and detained similarly for a period of two years without trial. 

What brings these cases together is UAPA. Stringent conditions for bails (the accused will not be given bail if the first impression of the court is that they are guilty), the ability to declare an individual ‘terrorist’, and detention without producing any incriminating evidence have ensured the overturning of the precept of innocent before proven guilty. The investigating agencies are allowed to take up to 180 days even to file a chargesheet, which, in the case of Kappan, he claims to never even have received firsthand.

The process thus becomes the punishment. The asymmetrical power balance between citizen and state is clearly exploited to the citizen’s disadvantage. Dissecting the acquittal judgement of Professor G.N. Saibaba, Karen Gabriel, and PK Vijayan write for The Quint that the law comprises both the set of legislation that the state has to enact and uphold as well as the rules of procedure that the state must adhere to while doing so. They assert, “Procedure is an invaluable protective measure, not an incidental convenience.”

A Brief History

In the year 1967, the Indira Gandhi administration sought to bring out a law against the secessionist activities that the government observed in the country. The Parliament thus passed the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. What initially emerged as legislation to counter the problem of secessionist tendencies, however, would quickly assume an altogether different colour. 

After the Prime Minister’s death and with the advent of the Punjab insurgency, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA) was introduced. Criticised widely by human rights organisations for its arbitrary tendencies to centralise the onus of justice, it was later withdrawn. TADA trickled down in 2001 to POTA (the Prevention of Terrorism Act) in 2002, which met with concerns of misuse and was scrapped by the UPA government in 2004. The provisions of POTA, however, were in essence transferred onto the UAPA, which was the first introduction of anti-terrorism into the primarily anti-secessionist legislation. The central government could now overlook rules of evidence when it came to interception of communication and vested in its hands the power to declare any organisation as a terrorist organisation without trial. 

In 2008, the Act was further amended to include longer police custody, longer jail time, and harder bail provisions. The latest and most important amendment in 2019 empowered the NIA further and gave the government powers to declare individuals terrorists. 

But It Works, Right?

The hardlined stringency should then naturally warrant efficiency in curbing the “disturbances” that it claims to protect us from. The Home Ministry’s 2020 report, on the other hand, tells us that only 212 of the 24000 convicted in UAPA cases in 2016–2020 were found guilty. As Kappan puts it, “a conviction rate of less than 3%.”

Acquitting DU professor G. N. Saibaba, who has been in prison for 3600 days, the Bombay High Court noted:

No evidence has been led by the prosecution by any witness to any incident, attack, act of violence, or even evidence collected from some earlier scene of offence where a terrorist act has taken place, in order to connect the accused to such an act…

The court further stated that there had been an evident “failure in justice” in the flouting of mandatory provisions in Saibaba’s case. The appalling conditions of his imprisonment, along with those of many others, lead one to wonder whether the crushing impact that callous state persecution has on an individual’s life can ever be undone with mere acquittal. 

The persecution of intelligentsia, which asks difficult questions of institutions, is no new phenomenon. Considering, however, that as we function under that nimble concept of what is known to some of us as a democracy, the state would do well to clothe its atrocities better and be less conspicuous about them. The UAPA, with its in-your-face authoritarian tendencies, does not seem to be helping in that front. 

Read also: The Donkey Dance of UAPA: Criminalising Dissent in a Hollowing Democracy

Deevya Deo
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This is a piece of political satire. Readers are requested to bear the same in mind and proceed with caution.

Bearing in mind the democratic character of elections in our country, the government has launched special “hide-and-seek” training programmes to launch troops who will catch any suspicious spies at the ballot box, trying to endanger free and fair elections in 2024.

Greetings Everyone! Would you like to hear a story? I can’t assure you if it’s fact or fiction, or perhaps it might be switching between those lines. Nonetheless, let’s just recite the tale.

In December 2023, the National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI) released a tender for procuring surveillance equipment, including drones and facial recognition technologies (FRT), for monitoring the union and state elections of 2024 as a part of the special “hide-and-seek” training programs. These programmes intend to train and launch specialised troops who will catch any suspicious spies (dangerous voters), trying to threaten the democratic character of the 2024 elections.

Just like in every epic saga, there is a hero, the hero’s best friend, and obviously a villain. And of course, in this tale, our precious government happens to be the hero. Poor them! All they were trying to do was protect our beloved democracy. I mean, they just tried to eliminate those damn spies. How will we safeguard our title as “the world’s largest democracy” otherwise? And the NICSI, as the typical hero’s best friend, just tried to support their best friend in this noble endeavour.

The said tender laid out plans for live-webcasting the polls and counting processes during elections and drafted the setting up of a “centralised command and control centre” to monitor activities in real time in order to “prevent unfair practices and maintain law and order at polling stations.” NICSI intended to achieve this by installing field surveillance vehicles, drones, systems extracting data from FRT for voters, IP-based cameras, LED TVs for screening the live data, and web-based audio and video streaming software on polling stations and counting halls.

Such noble intentions indeed! But of course, tragedy had to strike, and the menacing villain had to foil this plan!

The Election Commission of India (ECI) ordered the cancellation of the said tender and sent a notice to NCISI after the digital rights body, the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), sent a letter to the ECI expressing concerns over breaches of citizens’ privacy and the potential misuse of voter data on January 17, 2024, and tweeted about it. The ECI spokesperson tweeted,

When the NICSI tender came to our attention, the Commission directed NICSI to immediately cancel it. The said tender was not floated with ECI approval. The Commission shall not allow invasion of citizens’ privacy in any manner during elections.

The wretched ECI, of course, could not sit still while the valorous hero pursued their noble initiative. Apologies for letting my emotions get the best of me; I mean, it’s just a story. But why does the ECI keep trying to frame the government with absurd allegations like “the proposed use of monitoring and surveillance technologies is antithetical to a free and fair election” or “the extensive deployment of video surveillance equipment will hurt individual fundamental rights, particularly the right to privacy and dignity” and how “citizens have a legitimate expectation that their voting choices remain confidential and free from unwarranted scrutiny” and “voter surveillance is voter intimidation and hampers the conduct of free and fair elections” and blah, blah, blah!

But, unfortunately, in this story, the villain won.

The National Informatics Centre Services Inc., on January 19, 2024, cancelled its tender seeking proposals from companies to provide surveillance equipment. According to IFF (the villain’s best friend), ECI’s decision to withdraw the tender is a positive step. They believe that there also needs to be an investigation to determine how and why a tender with such far-reaching implications for citizens’ ability to vote freely and without fear was released in the first place.

The villain may have won this time or might just keep winning every single time (hopes of every idealistic citizen in a democracy), but obviously the hero will keep trying and will come back stronger! (unfortunate reality).

Read also: Saffronisation Out in the Open, Finally!

Featured Image Credits: India Today

Gauri Garg
[email protected]

Recently, controversy erupted when the ‘Ambedkarite Queer’ attendees at the 2024 Mumbai Pride Parade were allegedly barred from chanting “Jai Bhim,” a popular slogan for Dalit liberation and the annihilation of caste. In the light of this missing intersectionality, along with the all-too-familiar hijacking of Pride by corporations professing ‘rainbow capitalism,’ the question arises: where is the soul of Pride today?

While Pride stands as a symbol of celebration of diversity and a fight for equal rights, it has been exploited over the years not only within the realm of capitalism but by political parties in the country, who have been handed over the task to initiate laws for marriage equality by the honourable Supreme Court. India hosts several Pride marches across cities like Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and many more. However, the history of the Pride march illustrates several obstacles, like police and legal restrictions, all over the country.

Recently, the Pride March conducted in Mumbai on February 3rd, 2024, witnessed bouts of ‘political tokenism’. Altercations were reported between groups that were accused of raising ‘political slogans.’ In reality, it so panned out that individuals who identified themselves as ‘Ambedkarite Queers’ were barred from chanting ‘Jai Bhim’ and their posters of B.R. Ambedkar were snatched by the Pride Volunteers. While Pride is a celebration of the diverse gender spectrum, it is also a battle for equal rights for all. While gender and sexuality sadly pose a barrier in today’s world, individuals also have to surpass other social barriers like caste and religion, depicting the intersectionality of oppression. While Pride aims to propose a ‘safe political space’ for claiming moral individual rights, incidents of such sorts explain the ‘hollowness’ behind its façade of progressivism within the country.

Furthermore, the reading of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution conducted during Mumbai Queer Pride allegedly missed out on the word ‘secular.’ Interesting, sigh. Apologies if this smells of ‘saffronization’ of long-protected social justice spaces as well. Allegedly revoking the word ‘secular’ sadly reeks of an established right-wing government injecting its agendas into what was supposedly a liberal safe space. Nevertheless, members of Mumbai Queer Pride soon after published a public apology on Instagram, citing their “respect to stand with every cause that intersects with Queer lives.”

Much earlier, the 2020 Pride, then scheduled to be held in Mumbai, was cancelled owing to protests related to the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, squashing the annual celebration of the city’s widespread queer community. Similarly, even Delhi’s Pride Parade, which has been held since 2008, has witnessed over hundreds of police personnel and restrictions in place every year (yes, queer people are ‘too dangerous’ after all).

Indeed, several questions come to mind. Can Pride ever be apolitical? Can the fight for queer rights be fought without taking into account intersectionality? And most importantly, is the liberation of any queer people possible without the liberation of all queer people, intersecting religious, caste, and other social hierarchies?

While the answers seem obscure, Pride Marches was initially conceived with the idea of creating a protected sphere for queer individuals where their individuality is celebrated and their need for fundamental rights amplified while the rest of the world shuns them. Pride today has been tainted with flimsy populist politics, evident from such policing and legalities.

With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections nearing, we flashback to the 2019 elections and the manifesto promises of providing equal footing to the LGBTQ+ community within society with equal opportunities in health, education, and work by all the political parties. While the abrogation of Section 377 served as a major win for LGBTQ+ rights, the ruling party, after coming into power, has since taken scarce measures to ensure a safe space for the community. There has been hardly any legislation for trans inclusivity in employment, health, education, and likewise.

This brings us to another pertinent question: are political parties using the ‘fight for equal rights’ as an ‘agenda’ to gain votes from the youth? Has the soul of Pride been sucked into the circle of ‘vote-bank politics’? A student from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, shared their opinion on this matter,

A lot of institutions before electoral processes conduct ‘rainbow representation’ for tokenistic purposes, and even after they get elected, they hardly create any change for the betterment of the community. Pride also witnesses ‘rainbow capitalism’ where organisations are’selling’ queer people while they are intrinsically homophobic or transphobic in their manufacturing purposes or ideologies. It’s tragic and cannot be solved unless the majority from every electoral poll holds MPs and MLAs accountable for providing equal gender rights.

National-level politics, besides capitalism, have exploited the LGBTQ+ community with manifestos that are just fantasy and rainbow-themed products in corporate organisations, while rejecting jobs for any individual who identifies as a part of the community under the garb of a progressive corporate work environment. Several examples can be cited from student politics as well. Pride marches conducted by student political parties, while turning out to be a huge success, get overruled by the spotlight due to how ‘woke’ the political party is. An instance of this can be pointed out in the Pride March conducted by the Student Federation of India (SFI) at the North Campus of Delhi University in 2023. Several gender-rights collectives that were part of the parade claimed that the march was boiled down to an ‘SFI-led event’ with SFI flags overruling the Pride flags. After all, it’s never a fight for equality, but ‘look how progressive our party is’ implying that ‘do not forget to vote for us; elections are just around the corner!’ 

“Pride will always be political,” they say, but moral boundaries between what is an election stunt and a genuinely progressive cause are the need of the hour; otherwise, it plainly delegitimizes the fight of generations. For years, caste oppression, poverty, economic inequality, and a lack of education have been favourite playthings of parties running for elections. But LGBTQ+ rights are now grabbing the spot of the top favourite toy of political parties, which are hell-bent on turning it into another token movement. While social justice movements embedded within the realm of politics are getting fooled by the world of politics itself, is there no way out of this paradox? Is justice, indeed, blind?

The abrogation of Section 377 was never about the liberty of the LGBTQ+ community. It was always tagged as one of the greater ‘achievements’ of the ruling party and the Prime Minister. While ‘taking credit’ remains a societal norm, social justice can hardly prevail in such a society.

As long as same-sex marriage still remains a far-fetched dream in a country of the twenty-first century, it is important to think how many Pride Marches, police restrictions, legal obstacles, political tokenism it will take for justice to prevail and to live equally in this unequal world.

Read Also: Pride, Privilege, Politics: A Third-Year Perspective on Being Queer in DU

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat

Priyanka Mukherjee
[email protected]

DU politics can be seldom described as “Chacha Vidhayak hain humare,” but no one is interested in addressing the people they are about to serve, or at least promise to serve.

Try describing Delhi University (DU), and you will realise that politics is inseparable from it. When we turn the pages of history, we see DU emerge as a political hub that we never knew existed. These pages of history stand as proof that the protest culture, which is still so ingrained in DU students, emerges from a time where all that mattered was the notion of freedom, and to live and breathe independently. However, in 2023, all of this can be described as “bigoted irony.”

And as we take a sip of tea, here we are, days away from experiencing the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections, which are back after a hiatus of three years. While all the organisations are busy preparing for it, however nobody is actually dwelling on the reason behind these elections.

Being one of the greatest democracies in the world, “democratic politics” plays an instrumental role in shaping our nation. While mainstream politics may be at the core of this country, DUSU breathes at the core of this mainstream alignment. If we try to draw parallels between the two, the story may turn out to be much more similar than what we comprehend. The result of both political scenarios is the same: the common man and the common students are the ones who suffer.

Political campaigns and rallies are an important part of the “election culture,” but in a varsity that is as dynamic as DU, it becomes quintessential to address the solutions to the problems that are eroding its structure. When men climbed the walls of Indraprastha College for Women (IPCW) and Miranda House, or when a ceiling fan fell on a student of Lakshmibai College, the contesting student organisations did voice the students’ concerns, but only a few did, and those few completely took away the focus from the students to themselves.

Arguments may be presented that when any political outfit addresses a problem, it may get politicised, but when the parties and organisations clearly act in a way that adds to their advantage, I think we lose the main reason for even having elections and choosing the candidate that should have “represented students.”

So, when everyone around is so focused on the elections and the candidates, the question about the students is completely neglected. DU’s political atmosphere includes everything except for the concerns of the students. With or without the elections, most of the students of the varsity feel that it does not matter who comes to power, as they will be neglected either way.

Vijeyta Panjwani, a student of Miranda House, expressed that while organisations like the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) pick up on student concerns, others like the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) or Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) tends to be missing in action. However, the entire matter often gets politicised, and the focus shifts away from the core problem and the students.

The ones who stood up for Students

When things did not go as planned at IPCW’s annual fest Shruti 2023, a few student organisations did take up the issue and protested for it. The students at the college went through a traumatic experience. When asked about the entire thing, they do recognise the efforts that were put in by the political outfits, but at the same time, they felt that soon the matter became something that was only concerned with the politics and not what the men did with the students of the college or how some students were locked up or were asked to leave their own college while outsiders were still in.

However, the contesting candidates have a different tale to tell. While the students may feel neglected, according to these candidates, that might not be accurate, and as one of them expressed, “We are humans too. We can’t take up each and every problem, but try to take up as many as possible,” for which I can give them a little credit. Nevertheless, when we take a look at the broader picture, not everything meets the eye.

Aditi Tyagi, a SFI state committee member who is contesting for the general secretary’s position, explained that each issue that emerges in the campus space is political. According to her, the organisations work as a bridge to get the media focused on student issues, and in the process, it might look like that issue has been politicised. She believes that without these outfits, student issues might never come up. Aditya, a member of AISA who is contesting for the secretary’s position, on the other hand, said, “Issues did not get politicised earlier. Now they get as a result of the idea to dominate each issue under the current organisation that is in power.”

One side of the politics is all up to take up the student concerns, and though it comes at the cost of politization, the other side dictates a tale that is no less than blatant hypocrisy.

Will they Stand with the Students?

One does not have to dig into the past to see what went wrong when we take a look at organisations like ABVP and NSUI. The campus space has been engulfed with sloganeering, pamphlet throwing, and, of course, the endless SUVs and huge banners, and “coincidentally,” they all belong to just two of the outfits: ABVP and NSUI.

NSUI is a name that does not resonate with a lot of students on campus since, according to the latter, they were nowhere to be seen over the months. However, the organisation has claimed that they have always stood up for the students, especially women-centric issues, though they could not point out any specific incident other than the gruesome act that took place in Manipur. The question about the students of DU still hangs dry for them.

Hitesh Gulia, a NSUI member who is contesting for the president’s position, has a vision to resolve the issues of fee hikes and women’s safety and wants to start a global youth festival. When asked about their absence in comparison to other organisations, Gulia pointed out that they are the first ones who pick up any issue that arises in the campus, but he could not particularly pin-point anything concrete except for the OBE protest, which happened earlier last year.

If we take a look at the campaigning of the ABVP, firecrackers were burned in Shayam Lal College and Deshbandhu College, fights broke out in Ram Lal Anand College, Ramunujan College’s gate was broken, and male candidates broke into Miranda House; this may not be too appealing to earn the votes of the students. However, the organisation claims to function in the most democratic way and has assured that they were always and would be with the students, though they have also claimed with sheer confidence that no matter what, they would again come back to power.

While other organisations did express their “concerns” about how the ones in power do not resonate with students, intimidate them, and do not look like one of them, the ones in power stood by their seemingly “strong moral grounds.” Speaking with Ankita Biswas, who is a part of ABVP but whose nomination did not get clearance, she stated that the organisation works for the students around the year, irrespective of the fact that the students may feel otherwise.

When asked about the recent incident in Miranda House where ABVP members scaled up the gates, including herself, she explained, “Our supporters get enthusiastic, and in that moment, they might do such things. As for Miranda House, the administration made us stand out for over 1.5 hours and did not allow us to carry out our campaign, which is a part of this democratic process.” Ashish Kumar Singh, another ABVP member, further explained that, as per the directions of the organisation, they are allowed to take just three cars for three candidates in colleges for campaigning. When asked about it, Biswas remarked, “What is wrong with it?” Well, it is safe to say that ABVP’s supporters are a little too zealous, which “might have” caused a little too much trouble for the common students.

No matter which ideology an organisation is inclined towards, all of them have one thing in common, and that is their assertion that they are with the students and they will be with the students, irrespective of these elections. Students have, however, lost their confidence in this democratic practice, and as for me, I still had a few questions left, but all I got from the karyakarta (s) was, “Muddhe muddhe pe depend karta hai, ab mai kya hi karu?

Read Also: Under the Shadow of DUSU Elections: A Stage for Sexual Harassment and Caste-based Politics

Featured Image Credits: Ankita Baidya for DU Beat

Ankita Baidya

[email protected]

 

The Economics Faculty of Delhi University welcomed a new elective on Ambedkar while replacing the old elective paper, ‘Economics of Discrimination’, going against the decisions taken by the Academic Council of the institution on August 11 and introducing a series of changes to elective papers in the syllabus.

‘Economic Thought of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’, an elective paper welcomed by the Economics Department of Delhi University to be taught to undergraduate students this year has caused the axing of another elective subject, ‘Economics of Discrimination’, resulting in several faculty members expressing concerns.

The new paper includes Dr Ambedkar’s views and understanding of various aspects of economic systems; theories of economic development; labor welfare; economic policy making; and other issues in the Indian economy during the colonial period. It replaced a new ‘Economics of Discrimination’ paper, which was decided in the Academic Council meeting on August 11 while introducing a series of changes to elective papers in the syllabus.

The syllabi of this paper signifies that the subject talks about Dr. Ambedkar’s pioneering thought in the field of economics, relevance in the contemporary world and its implication for ‘social justice’, ‘equality’ and ‘inclusive development’.

An associate professor of Economics at Kamala Nehru College and an elected Academic Council Member, Monami Basu, mentioned to The Indian Express that the paper on Dr. Ambedkar was welcomed by the entire faculty as it talks about him as an ‘economic policy-maker’ during the post-colonial period, his thoughts on ‘colonial economy’ and how caste and labor are interconnected.  However, she adds that the paper on discrimination was dropped without consultation with Academic Council members, departments or committees of courses.

Another professor who has been teaching economics at DU for over two decades has professed to the Indian Express on conditions of anonymity that the focus on ‘caste discrimination’ has been diluted in the new Ambedkar paper and it is only 10% of the paper now. According to other faculty members, the now-dropped paper was the only one that focused on the concept of discrimination in the UG economics syllabus. It had themes such as gender and unequal burden of work; inequalities in access to land; and intersection of discrimination though race, caste, class and disability.

The first suggestion to drop three elective papers, including ‘Economics of Discrimination’, was made in an Academic Council meeting on May 26 and opposed by faculty members of several colleges. Vice Chancellor, Yogesh Singh had then consulted a six-member panel to revisit the syllabi.

Read Also: Text Removal and Renaming in DU’s History Syllabus: Brahmanization Term and Paper on Inequality Dropped

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Priyanka Mukherjee

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The three P’s of Student Life of DU- Pyaar, Padhai, and Politics are quite diverse topics on their
own. DU isn’t solely about studies, romance, or political life. It is a synthesis of all of them based on personal preferences.


I was reminded by one of my professors that student life is about the three Ps: Pyaar, Padhai, and Politics, with each student finding their own specific niche. The relationship between DU and its students has even more P’s – Parampara, Pratishtha alongside the former three, but what blends the students’ relationship with the varsity is Pain. Pyaar, Padhai, and Politics are three unique aspects of the life of a DU student. These are three chariots leading the students into their own but different pathways.

The academic life of a DU student is two-fold. Thousands and thousands migrate from their cities and states for receiving their degrees from the most prestigious colleges in the country, but only after coming here do they realize that the external perception of the varsity being only about studies is perturbed by the dawn that majority of the students here lose their academic concerns after the 1 st semester. Students come all dressed up, tidy and neat with books equivalent to the weight of a schoolbag, making it into libraries after regular classes in the freshman year. Then there are also the students who’ve enrolled themselves into a bunch of societies exude all strengths of their bodies and minds, but still turn up to class. Another section straightaway starts going places, exploring the newfound freedom barely showing up to their professors. Slowly as the years pass, classrooms get more empty, and similar to how folks shed their tidy clothes to fit into comfy Pajamas, the Society kids lose their balls of energy to attend classes after hectic running around, practicing, etc tasks. Even the studious UPSC aspirants start skipping college to attend coaching and self-study. Honestly, their stance makes sense as well. Once I eavesdropped on a conversation between two guys in my PG. One was saying, “You know, the real experience of college life comes from having new experiences, not from the routine existence of waking up at 8 in the morning to coming back at 4ish.”

As for examinations, ( most) DU Students don’t study every day but only before the exams. And the outcomes are not that bad, some even went on to be Gold Medalists in the past. It doesn’t mean people don’t study at all. Academics is what generally isn’t preferred much here. People strive to finish analyzing what topic they’re interested in.

Pyaar” is another aspect that often lingers in discussions about college life. Especially at DU having places like “Lovers Spot” nurtures the cocooned new romantics inside students. The cycle of breaking free from strict authority at home, fuelled by unrealistic expectations from movies, especially Bollywood, creates musings for the new romantics. Also, college is the closest equivalent to the perfect American high school dream for Indian students. Many do find love here, many break up, and some even make it beyond the boundaries of graduation. Most importantly, it is more of a realization that the perfect fairytale love story is next to uncommon in real life and that relationships do require effort, work, space, and understanding (The Katy Perry Way).

When I was a little girl I used to read fairy tales. In fairy tales, you meet Prince Charming and he’s everything you ever wanted. In fairy tales, the bad guy is very easy to spot. The bad guy is always wearing a black cape so you always know who he is. Then you grow up and you realize that Prince Charming is not as easy to find as you thought. You realize the bad guy is not wearing a black cape and he’s not easy to spot; he’s really funny, and he makes you laugh, and he has perfect hair.

Taylor Swift

 

During my first month in Delhi, an acquaintance of mine said, “Being in a relationship helps fill the void of loneliness and mechanical busyness of life here.” Everyone has a different perspective on love. Clearly, if it’s positive for you, then go for it. But immature relationships often culminate into a lot of hurts when combated.

College politics of DU is a topic of interest, fear, hesitation, and passion for many. The first place
where students get the opportunity to explore their political self to those who come solely for political purposes, assuming positions of power and battling ideologies. Staging protests and raising concerns, is regarded as a vital stage of vigilance by them. There are again people who have ideologies and views on national concerns but do not like to muddle in violent politics for the same. Protesting against unjust and unfair steps taken by the administration, and violence faced by students, this is an essential cry for justice, but not everyone is motivated by the love of justice. Some use these topics as matters of splattering mud over others and clout chasing.

The politics of DU is messy, complicated with unknown motivations and often takes over the education and academics of DU. The threat to being neutral is a lingering question that is quite
debatable. Often, peaceful protests turn into rigorous ones. Even a small infiltration leads to a huge mess—the involvement of cops, media, etc. But for a good cause, it exposes the faulty administration oftentimes. And then there is election politics wherein candidates go to unmeasured lengths to appear as a whitewashed version of the perfect one. The unfiltered side is often motivated by the lust for power, a really positive element turned negative.

The three aspects of student life at DU aren’t completely negative or positive and one isn’t superior to the other. There is a fourth P that lingers around all the former P’s. That is – Pain. The pain of attending classes and juggling societies, the pain of cramming before exams, of assignment
heartbreak pain, the pain of political failure, etc. Student life is about extracting the best lessons out of these.

 

Read Also :Romanticising Short Term Romance and Friendships

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Hritwik Pratim Kalyan

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When you look at all the colleges that are not affiliated with DUSU, you will notice that most of them turn out to be women’s colleges rather than co-ed institutions. Is this because of what the students want, or what the college administration deems “right”, or what society considers a norm?


Delhi University is defined by some key components that make up the whole “DU college experience”— the campus, the food, and the infamous student union elections. But you would be wrong to assume that this is the case in each and every college of Delhi University. As of 2019, a total of only 52 DU colleges and faculties are affiliated with the Delhi University Student Union, lovingly referred to as DUSU.

 

A large proportion of the colleges not-affiliated with DUSU comprise women’s colleges, leaving barely any women’s colleges to be a part of DUSU. The question arises— does an internal bias really exist amongst the female DU students to not want to be part of the process and the complications of DUSU or is this just a manifestation of a system of historical entrenchment of women, not just in politics but in society as a whole?

The scene that we witness on larger political platforms like in various state assemblies or in the parliament, with men occupying most of the positions of power and women being given only token representation, can be seen trickling down onto the university level as well. Many of the contesting groups have only one female contestant amongst a group largely dominated by male candidates, a clear misrepresentation of the ratio of male to female students in the Delhi University student body.

When DUSU is not included in it (women’s colleges), I think it is taking away a lot of political autonomy…. (when) people opt out of it (DUSU) or when we aren’t kept in the loop, we miss out on a lot of political discussions and a lot of very important decisions that can be taken by us,” says Avantika, a former student from Gargi College.

 

Rather than addressing the concern of college administrations themselves not wanting their colleges to be a part of DUSU, the primary concern would be to address the question of whether female students themselves want to be a part of these elections.

It is not only about if we WANT to be part of the elections or not, but also that women always have and will have more restrictions— in terms of curfews, family concerns, safety issues, etc. Essentially, the way DU politics functions currently makes it very difficult for women to be part of the same, and that gives everyone an excuse and a justification to just not include women in DUSU in general,” says a 1st-year student from Delhi University.

The kind of freedom that male candidates possess and use has always existed in parallel to women candidates. The early curfews mean that most women candidates end up being unable to dedicate the same amount of time campaigning or organising events as a male candidate and the concern for safety, specifically in a city like Delhi, does not add positively to it. 

While entering into politics, women majorly face harassment, (wrongful) comments, and at times sexual torture. They are threatened and majorly, they are emotionally blackmailed,” says Meenakshi Yadav, a 2nd-year journalism student from LSR, who is also serving as the president of SFI LSR.

All these factors have, in a sense, culminated to form a sort of vicious cycle— women cannot give enough time or resources to the elections due to the systematic exclusion of women from public life, which leads to them being at a disadvantage and ultimately, in most scenarios, to them not being elected. This ends with a bare minimum representation of women in the elected panel and when women aren’t occupying decision-making positions, how do we expect women’s issues to come up and be addressed on public platforms?

 

But this is definitely not the only or the complete reason behind the non-participation of women’s colleges in DUSU. Most college administrations would rather not have their college be a part of DUSU, with many of them following on this path since the very beginning while others have pulled out from DUSU in recent years. “Yeh college DU politics ka part nhi hai, yahan padhayi acche se hogi” is a phrase most of the students in these non-DUSU colleges—like St. Stephens, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, or Gargi College—have heard at least once in their life, and this is exactly what the college administration exploits as well. Colleges that are not affiliated with DUSU go so far as this non-affiliation usually gets endorsed by the college administration and further appreciated by prospective students and their parents.

Most of the faculty at these colleges believe that the time during and around the DUSU elections is bubbling with hooliganism and leads to a very disruptive atmosphere in the college. Monika Nandi, associate professor at the Indraprastha College, is against taking part in DUSU elections “because of the use of money and muscle power”. But the teachers also do not hold a unanimous opinion over this. On the other hand, Bhupinder Chaudhary, associate professor at the Maharaja Agrasen College, does not feel that the issue of money and muscle power subsides by restricting the college’s or students’ access to DUSU. “All college students are above 18. If at that age they are allowed to elect the country’s government, why should they not be allowed to elect their union? Moreover, he raises a very valid question, that is, if teachers can have their own union, the Delhi University Teacher Association, then why can’t (shouldn’t) the students?

Most of the colleges don’t want to indulge in the disturbances which come from external sources like colleges, media, students, etc. (during elections). They want to keep a peaceful environment by suppressing the opportunities of students. They fear the revolution and violence that they think they will have to face if the students are involved in Politics, ” continues Meenakshi, in conversation with a DU Beat correspondent.

College administration would rather argue that it is for the “benefit” of the female students that the college would rather not affiliate itself with DUSU, citing the same reasons that society has cited to women for centuries now— “It’s for your own safety” or “Acche ghar ki ladkiyan yeh sab nhi krti”, all platitudes to suppress the voice of women in a world standing on the foundation of patriarchal bullies and misogynistic ideals. 

They tell us to lock up our doors, shut tight our windows, dress right, look down, speak low, hide away; because whatever makes it unsafe for us out there, that is not going to go away. 

 

So yes, women have been told to hide away for decades, and yes, “men will be men” and “we can’t change the society” have been the go-to phrases for centuries of missed opportunities and stolen platforms, but does that mean that in 2022, women belonging to such prestigious institute ons like Delhi university colleges— well-educated and independent-thinking women— should be denied of opportunities as basic as being able to vote? Even though all these colleges might not be a part of DUSU but that does not mean that DUSU does not affect these colleges. None of us exist in a vacuum. Delhi University has always been and will always be highly interdependent, so how does it make sense for the college administration to deny a platform like DUSU to students just because in technicality it is allowed? How does it make sense for us to talk about women’s problems in front of a male-dominated panel, elected by a predominantly male student population, who belong to an electoral college that barely includes any women colleges? How does it make sense to be living in a time when we still need to fight for women’s suffrage?

 

Read also ‘Who Run The World? Aes(that)ic Girls Do!’ 

 

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Manasvi Kadian

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