JNU student council has passed resolution relating to uniform civil code, article 370, India’s relation with USA and South Korea while the DU student council has protested against the new law introduced in parliament related to sexual violence. Oxford Union is in news for Shashi Tharoor’s speech on why the British need to pay for the reparation of India.

I wonder, what enables these students to be strong enough to affect national political opinion. The answer might lie in affiliation of these student unions to national level parties. This may be correct but the more important thing is these student unions have a much broader outlook.

Students’ elections are envisaged to prepare future leaders of India. These elections train and nurture them for future expeditions. Moreover, these experiences and practices enrich them with necessary management and leadership skills to be used in their career assignments.

With these developments in my mind, when I think of my college’s (Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad) students’ general body elections, I find vast differences.

ISM elections revolve around an indigenous quad party structure, each formed on the basis of region (Kadambari, PMI, Akhand Bihar etc.) These parties are not even distantly related to any ideology or agenda. Due to region based party system, high tempo regionalism flows through veins of youthful students especially during election months.

Those who are actively involved in the politics, generally have fewer interactions with students of other regions thus cultivating a sense of fragmentation in a college of national repute. One of the basic premises of a national institution is integration of all regions of India. Unknowingly a student, who enters into the campus with high expectations, faces regional prejudices and discrimination.

Not only students, faculties are also actively involved in these activities. Fragmentation of professors on regional lines proves to be fatal not only for academics but also for research and development as it demands well-coordinated effort.

Regional differences continue to affect students in their corporate lives. Unintentional regional biases developed during four years of college life do not let go easily and somehow affect professional decisions, for example. choices during recruitments, etc. Immediate effects cannot be quantified but long term repercussions are tangibly harmful.

Coming back to elections, objective of election in any college is to form a student body which will press for students’ interests in college administration, promote development of students and last but not least conduct cultural and technical festivals. Let alone passing resolution on national issues or fruitful debates on important matters in campus, ISM Student body is mostly concerned about one task i.e. SRIJAN (Annual Cultural cum Technical festival) and to a lesser extent about other fests like Pratibimb, BASANT etc.

Most important thing is mode of election. There is no provision of direct election as widely practiced in most of India’s universities. Only those students who are interviewed by Professors and who have met GPA criteria are eligible for voting. Also, basis of Selection in those interviews is some secret recipe rather than a well-known requirement. Those selected as secretaries are the ones who vote for heads of student body. The region having majority of elected selected member secretaries decides the head of student body.

This is how the real politics of horse trading is learned and replicated. Sometimes faces of student’s body are just dejure faces (as they are usually more interested in study and dragged in politics due to GPA) and other guys working behind the scenes handle all the situations. Coalition Dharma is another ingredient of this version of politics.

Considerable spending during voting can also be seen here. Main event Srijan, is seen as a chance to recover all the previous spending. Managing accounts of events is a loosely handled exercise.

In some way, all the above reminds of all the practices which happen in typical politics at national, state and local level. The practices which endanger our nation’s democratic functioning, are learned and followed. The main aim of a learner’s life is defeated. So how can we expect to get good future leaders? It’s a bit harsh to say but the truth is –this has become factory preparing corrupt leaders.

Most of the guys are somewhat aware about above tactics and politics. But insights rarely come out. Until there is some amount of information in public domain, how will one even ponder about correcting these? With the objective of knowing the issue in depth, we filed a RTI application to get details of college funding, exact procedure of election, extent of professor’s involvement in election etc.

To our surprise, ISM seems reluctant to bring information in public domain. Among the little information that came out, surprising was the fact that institute contribution was 23 lakhs rupees in 2015 events. Surprising? Because one common student hardly even knows how much amount is flowing? How will accountability be fixed with this scarcity of information? When asked about accounts and other procedures, the following answer was received.

“The information you have asked for is voluminous and needs analysis, so you are requested to come to the institute with prior appointment and go through the documents.”

The reply of RTI is attached:

RTI1

The first appeal, which is addressed by REGISTRAR of the institute, did not make the cut. Authority justified above given information as appropriate and complete.

The purpose of this article is not accusing but to raise the issue of true purpose of students’ body once again. Many guys in the past have tried to unravel these things. Now most are busy in their respective jobs. We just picked it up again, to at least begin a discussion.

It needs to be emphasized that this doesn’t happened only in my institute. Rather what happens in my institute is not even a micro-version of politics of DU or the likes. What concerns me more is that why this happens in my institute too. Another concern is about the relevance – does our student body even know their real work? On a broader scale the objective of this write up was to shape minds to become more responsible and change the world outside too. On a more specific basis, real work is improving environment and providing opportunity for all students to develop. I may have raised these issues late; but better late than never. This is high time that these issues be discussed not by current students but also by alumni acting as pressure groups. As for my part, I am just moving a paper for talks.

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