Student Elections – A Step Towards Democracy Or A Celebration Of Ignorance?

Posted on August 27, 2012 in Specials

By Rakesh Talukdar:

With the showers of the Delhi monsoon, there seems to be another flavour to the atmosphere of the city. The one regarded mostly as a pleasant one for the students of the University of Delhi, since not many are keen to attend classes and are more than welcome to any disruption in the classes. This new season, which the harbingers of democracy will be quick to laud as the necessity to freedom and representation, is often not dissected with the same intensity that issues of communal violence or the X-ray vision most boys would use on a ‘maal’ of DU.

With the wave of campaigning already starting to flutter my nerves, as I am not a very warm receiver of the ‘Hi, Bhai! Vote kar dena bas’, my expectation of logic from the whole campaign is often the point of ridicule and laughter for the seniors whom I ask with a flabbergasted look if the whole system of elections will actually prove meaningful to the students. Notwithstanding my personal views on democracy, which is hugely unpopular, elections are supposed to be the doorstep to the mechanism of our representative system. Instead, it has been reduced to the stature of the doormat, where we stamp our feet, in the hope of filtering all the dirt; and while the dirt remains, we still carry over enough dirt across to infect the insides of the room.

The regular student of the University, who has not many concerns in his life, barring the revolutionary ideas to change the world and the not so revolutionary answers in the examinations, is made out to be the central character of the election campaigns, as if their worth and merit amount only to the one vote they can cast in the elections. And while the laudable pluses of the student organizations and the student unions, I am very aware of, I still remain sceptical of the way the campaigns are conducted. The door to door campaigning, along with the distribution of pamphlets with the faces of some of the biggest ‘chors’ of the country (as any autowala will describe the owners of most houses near the Race course metro), lack originality. While the Political Science students in the fancy colleges, and if lucky, in fancier classrooms dissect our electoral process and blame the ignorant citizens for the crass politicians they elect, they refuse to see that they are indeed reduced to the same in the whole process of elections at a minimal level too.

While I have no problem with the idea of election itself, I have a problem with the fact that as the students who never cease to boast about their CVs and achievements, we often fail to see and recognize the need for a political CV from the candidates. However, one should not confuse the extravagant freshers or protests against illegal immigrants as addressing the issues of the students. Addressing an issue is quite different from exploitation. To exploit the sentiments of a particular community and arranging lavish parties, with an eye out for the ‘gullible’ freshers of the session, are the simplest of the traps that we fall into.

While these students Unions aspire to gain political mileage in magnitude that’d make anyone rich, had it been something like their car mileage, the general student’s idea of an informed and generalized discussion/debate is often overridden by factionalism and vote politics.

Now, most might be critical of me saying that what I aspire for is impracticable and that petty vote bank politics is the inherent character of politics. However, looking beyond the often overused and misused term of ‘practicability’, we must try to dissect the problems most of us whine about as Indians. Corruption. Patriarchy. Hooliganism. Political arrogance. Communalism. Regional tensions. These are issues we can debate and discuss ceaselessly. However, we often fail to see our own contribution to the system of exploitation that is created in very subtle and invisible manners.

The college and university election systems are often the first steps in our contribution and moulding of the evolved system of democracy that we aspire for. And when the very base of our democratic system is corroded by corruption and influence of black money, we can do little but only regret the consequences. We fail to see that the more ‘enlightened’ of our society, often fail to see the forces of communalism and hooliganism in the whole setup of the election system at a university level. And as they spiral into the depths of this kind of politics, it is often too late to realize the more realistic vision of tolerance politics in our country. The dream which seemed a realistic goal a few years ago is turned into the unachievable utopia because of the flaws that exist in the very introduction to the whole setup of democracy.

While it can also be argued that the characters of hooliganism and the like is embedded in our political life and is only reflected in the elections at the student level, it is also infallible logic that the students have mostly shaped the nations of the modern world, if not of the day, then certainly of the day after. And it is often the burden that the youth carries with it, to dissect the issues of the day and place them objectively for the society to see. And while it is easy to blame the education system for not producing intellectuals of this magnitude universally, it is also the refusal and apprehension of the modern day student to break free of the traditions and culture and question them that has led to the deterioration of our political structure at the higher levels. For we tend to agree that the youth has the energy to do most things. And as the more privileged ones to have been exposed to the idea of formal education and the ideas of Marx and Hegel (besides Heffner and the beauty of the Kournikovas),logic would suggest we start off by questioning the existing fallacies in the system. Let’s sit back and see if this happens this season, while I will hopefully laze back and enjoy my morning coffee in the afternoon, thanking the elections for the cancellation of my classes (touchwood).