The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) led by its president Roji M John took out an anti-drugs rally from the Congress Bhawan in Sector 35 to the Sector-17 bus stand on Wednesday. A native of Kerala, he got elected as president of his college union in 2001, and later won the student election at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in 2005. Rising through Congress wing NSUI’s ranks, he is its first elected national president. John talks to HT about the drug menace and more:
How big is the problem of drugs in universities and colleges?
The problem is a social issue, and present majorly in Chandigarh and surrounding areas’ colleges and universities. While we are visiting institutions across Chandigarh and other parts of the region to create awareness, other parties need to join us in this campaign. The civic administration, police and political parties need to work together.
Can sports play a role, as suggested by people generally?
Sports can indeed play a major role in diverting the youth away from drugs. Haryana is the perfect example where the problem of drugs is not as prevalent as it is in Punjab. The previous government put a lot of emphasis on development of sports in Haryana.
NSUI is in power at Panjab University for two years; how would you rate the performance of the student council?
We keep a constant tab on their activities and provide all the guidance. The council has been taking up several issues, including most recently the issue of corruption in hostel funds. The council president sat on hunger strike and the authorities were forced to form a committee to probe the matter.
The council president is facing allegation of embezzlement too.
That is a baseless allegation. Everyone on the campus knows what the opposition parties have been up to. Bodies like the Students’ Organisation of India (SOI) are part of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and they have been involved in all shady deals, such as supplying drugs and alcohol on campus during elections. Students will give them a befitting reply by voting the NSUI to power for a third consecutive time.
Student polls have not been held in Punjab and Haryana since long. What is being done for their revival?
The NSUI as an organisation is fighting throughout the country to have student union elections. We feel these elections are a good platform to enter politics and showcase their leadership skills. We will continue to take up the issue.
What do you have to say about the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations setting expenditure limits and other regulations for student polls?
It is high time that the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations were reviewed. There are many points that are realistically not possible to implement. Preventing a candidate from contesting for a second time is against the basic principle of democracy and also doesn’t ensure accountability on the side of elected office-bearers. Similarly, you can’t have the same expenditure guidelines for a small college with a thousand students and a big university with more than one lakh students. Student organisations were not taken into confidence while preparing the report.