Vicious circle of campus politics

Almost all of us have witnessed campus politics at some point of time during our college days. Some think it’s an integral part of college life and paves way for our future leaders, while others call it a curse.

But whether or not we care about it, it has affected most people (either positively or negatively). In fact, even Bollywood hasn’t remained untouched by the concept of campus politics. Movies like Gulal and Haasil are a few examples that have portrayed the brutal face of campus politics in their storyline.

A well-known theosophist and president of Theosophical society of Adyar, George S Arundale felt that students jump into politics without knowing much about it. He wrote in one of his pamphlets of Theosophical Society: “Unfortunately, the word politics has acquired a different significance, and it is because of this that there is so much confusion at the present time.

Politics has come to mean agitation, constitutional or otherwise, either against certain measures which the government of the country has thought fit to adopt or in favour of certain measures which the government does not adopt and which the agitator thinks it ought to adopt. And either kind of agitation has come to involve in the minds of many the imputing of bad motives to the opposite party. With this kind of politics I am very strongly of opinion that students should have nothing to do.”

However, Saket Bahuguna, Delhi state secretary of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad(ABVP) thinks differently. “First of all, I would call it campus activism rather than campus politics. This campus activism definitely has a powerful and a positive role in the life of a student. It helps create a pro student environment inside the campus.” He is probably right, but what comes in picture is a little different.

Campus politics is not only about elections and clashes, but also about how different party members try to lure students into voting for them by using different methods. Some organise parties while others guarantee attendance. Also, there are cases where the deserving member for a post is replaced by someone from the friend circle of people in power.

“Despite having done a lot of work for the college and the literary society, I was replaced by someone who was the college president’s friend. Teachers assured me that I was the deserving candidate for the election but it’s all about power; whosoever has got it, uses it to their benefit,” says Poorva Tak, a student of Sri Ram College of Commerce, who contested the college elections this year.

Another case of such politics is the very recent and most talked  – Rohith Vemula. Vemula, a second year PhD scholar at University of Hyderabad, and a member of a political group Ambedkar Students’(ASA) Association was accused of a fight and assault by the rival party ABVP’s N Susheel Kumar. Vemula was suspended by university administration later, along
with four other PhD students and committed suicide on January 17. A bright student who wanted to study science went on to the extent of killing himself because of campus politics.

“If you look at Vemula’s suicide note, you will find out that he had written and then cut a few lines. If you see groups like ASA and Students’ Federation of India (SFI), you’ll find that seldom do their goals match with individual’s goals. Vemula was unsatisfied because he had different ambitions and he realised that the organisation’s ideology didn’t match with his own... the whole students and teachers community needs to think why such a bright student committed suicide,” adds Bahuguna.  

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