Floors carpeted with election posters and flyers aren’t unusual at Vishwavidyalya metro station at Delhi University’s North Campus. The landscape worsens as one moves further towards the college campuses. Despite the entire campus being flooded, floors carpeted and walls painted with election posters and flyers, Miranda House offers a more vibrant picture, thanks to the college’s one-year old No Poster Party.
Sometime during the Delhi University Students’ Union Election the previous year, five students were determined to do something about the mess caused by the elections. The elections concluded – and a party came to power. These women took to Facebook, hosting a cleanliness drive at the campus premises somewhere in the afternoon. They urged fellow students to join in large numbers. A movement, which initially commenced with only four women, saw more than 50 students in attendance on September 10 at 6 AM last year. The enthusiastic and concerned lot cleaned the campus, removing the posters and disposing of the ‘garbage’.
Soon, the faculty and the administration joined in. Miranda House’s principal, Dr Pratibha Jolly, applauded the initiative and gave them access to the college’s recycling unit. Further, she asked the National Service Scheme (NSS) and National Cadet Corps (NCC) to be actively involved in what came to be known as the No Poster Party.
No Poster Party has entered its second year. Endorsing awareness through street plays, discussions and action campaigns, the NPP has expanded its reach to SGTB Khalsa, Daulat Ram, and has also received an overwhelming response at Hindu College.
The collective is very active on Facebook, Twitter and is particularly regarded for their sarcastic remarks. Take this, for example – commenting on Vishwavidyalaya metro station floors carpeted with election posters they posted, “Kya value tere is poster ki Ghalib, jo mere kadmon ki dhul chat raha hai (Oh Ghalib, what is the worth of your posters that get trampled under my feet)”.
The NPP is a voluntary service. The informal party offers no certificate but requires one to be active in their movements and travel across colleges as part of their awareness campaigns. The participants dedicate two hours every day between and after lectures. With the support of their faculty and college principal, the task becomes much easier.
Volunteers have revealed that they have been approached by various student political parties for their association to seek legitimacy and popularity. However, the collective prefers to remain aloof. Previously, they had approached these parties, suggesting a paper-less election campaign – despite which, the floors and walls continue to remain flooded and painted. This is also in sheer violation of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, which forbid expenditures exceeding ₹5,000 on election campaigning. “Why do they need to put up a hundred posters for me? I have only one vote. One poster should be enough – no point flooding my vision with so many posters,” says Swastika Kharbanda, one of the founders of the NPP and an alumni of Miranda House.
The NPP also plans to bring out the issue of noise pollution due to road-shows and campaigning on microphones. They are also planning to have a pan-DU cleanliness drive post the elections on September 12.
Recently, the students also approached the proctor and the registrar, seeking denial of permission to have murals and paintings featured on campus walls. However, they were asked not to directly take an active stand, citing probable misbehaviour to female students.
The movement has had a considerable impact. Paper-less campaigning is being preached by various political parties. While the All India Students’ Association (AISA) has been propagating the move to seek popularity as a common students’ forum among the voters, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) decided to hang ropes with candidate posters and use saffron flags instead. They chose to advertise with huge hoardings to minimise the use of paper.
The NPP is a stepping stone towards no-paper campaigning. However, it shall take time for paper campaigning to be completely replaced by digital campaigning or no-paper campaigning. Not only shall this help sustain a cleaner campus, it will also keep a check on the violation of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations.