Student wings of political parties may be passe

Student wings of political parties may be passe

Student wings of political parties may be passe
Student wings of political parties and associations formed on the lines of caste, community or religion could cease to function in universities and colleges if the Centre accepts the recommendations of a committee.

This means that groups with political affiliations like Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), All India Students Association (AISA), National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Students Federation of India (SFI), as well as groups formed on the lines of caste, community or religion like Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle and Hindu Vidyarthi Sena would cease to function in universities and colleges.

A five-member panel on New Education Policy, headed by former Cabinet secretary T S R Subramanian, has noted that frequent agitations and protests on campus disrupts academic activities and causes “collateral damage” to serious students.

“Educational institutions should not be allowed to become political arenas to settle national rivalries. Student groups that are explicitly based on caste, religion or any political party should be abjured through statutes governing the universities and institutions,” it stated, in a veiled reference to the recent student protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Hyderabad and other campuses.

The panel submitted the 217-page report to the Ministry of Human Resource Development on May 27. The ministry is yet to make the report public, maintaining that it was awaiting response from the states.

The panel has made a strong pitch for bringing a “balance” between free speech and freedom of association on campuses to safeguard the interest of the vast majority of “serious” students pursuing their academic goals.

“Most students enrol in courses of their choice and spend a precious part of their young life in pursuit of education. However, one frequently hears of agitations and disturbances of one sort or the other in various campuses from time to time,” it said.

The panel stated: “It is not infrequent that examinations need to be postponed or in some cases the student even loses a year or more due to unsettled conditions,” the panel noted.
The committee also recommended bringing in measures to restrict students from staying for a longer period than what is required to complete their course.

“Students who stay for long periods start ‘owning’ the universities and have an undue influence on the course of non-academic activities in the campuses...The main interest of such students is not to pursue learning but to use the hostel and fellowship facilities to follow a political agenda,” the panel stated.

The committee also called for a public debate on its recommendations, while suggesting that the policy must be “secular” in character with adequate intervention of value education at all levels.