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Why NSUI’s Manifesto Tries To Steer Clear Of ‘ Nationalism Debates’

Posted by Saptaparno Ghosh in Campus Politics, Campus Watch
September 10, 2017

During the Ramjas clashes in February 2017, the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) condemned the occurrence at their hunger strike by shouting, “Na left ki, na right ki, raah chuno centre ki” (Neither the left, nor right, choose the centre instead). This was followed by Gift-a-Rose campaign where NSUI gave roses to protesters outside Ramjas aiming to bring peace to the turbulent campus. Despite the depleting activism and popularity, the party has invariably secured the second position to Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) at Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) for the last three years.

Last year, it made a comeback in the DUSU central panel with their candidate Mohit Garid securing the post of Joint Secretary, preventing an all-ABVP hat trick. This year, NSUI has started off on the wrong foot with their presidential candidate being disqualified for disciplinary reasons.

What can still save the party is if they convince students to vote for them by the promises they are making. They have released a ‘DigiManifesto‘ which is doing rounds on Whatsapp and other social media sites. The manifesto is pretty refreshing as unlike All India Students’ Association and ABVP they do not bestow too much space to nationalism debates. Only, in a very subtle manner, they have promised not to do things that ABVP is accused of doing; to not moral police women and to ensure that perpetrators of violence are held accountable.

These are a few important points mentioned in the manifesto –

  • As a result of lack of reading resources in Hindi, Hindi-Medium students across the campus struggle to cope with academics. NSUI intends to set up English tutorial classes and bridge/remedial classes. It would have been better had they promised to set up translation centres that would help these students study in the language that they’d like to.

Considering the university’s infrastructural constraints, especially those with the teaching fraternity, this shall be an uphill task, but it is appreciable that the concern has found space at a DUSU manifesto.

  • Forming dedicated forum to discuss pending scholarships of Schedule Castes, Tribes and other minorities.
  • Setting up a counselling centres. Again, considering that they will have to navigate through the University’s red tape and infrastructural constraints, this is ambitious.
  • Curbing moral policing.
  • They shall demand new colleges and mandatory hostels for colleges with more than 2,000 students, also impose rent control for PGs.
  • Promote ‘Participatory Budgeting’ with complete transparency of expenditures, and online records. Every college council would have a say in the budget allocation and expenditure.

Interestingly, NSUI released the incorrect ABVP-led DUSU’s annual expenditure record on their social media handles saying the Union spent 22 lakhs on tea, coffee, etc. ABVP then gave a convincing explanation for it, and much to NSUI’s embarrassment, also emphasised how the budget had Mohit Garid’s signature on it.  

While these make a debut, the claims to oppose privatisation and work out affordable amenities at the campus remains customary. NSUI professes to maintain the educational standards of the reputed Delhi University. Like the previous year, the party shall also be working on concessional buses and metro passes. Instituting mechanisms to check discrimination against Northeast students, and addressing grievances of sports quota students makes it to their manifesto again. What is amiss is last year’s  ‘Earn While You Learn’ wherein NSUI had promised to get the University to “issue guidelines to all the colleges to start providing short-term jobs for their students who are in need of financial aid”.

While AISA and ABVP have been engaging in criticism and counter-criticism, NSUI’s position remains undecided. It’s popular opinion that their inactiveness will have a consequence and will be the reason DUSU-voters do not find in them the ‘centre-alternative’ to the Right and the Left. Their manifesto does seem progressive, and their promises do cater to the common students. But the doubt remains – would their candidates be able to deliver the claims if they couldn’t participate in the numerous debates that took plan on campus last year?