For the third time in a row, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) will hold its student union polls on September 11, on the same day as the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) ­elections. However, the poll pattern at JNU differs from that of Delhi University (DU).
Besides campaigning, the candidates in JNU communicate their agenda to voters, followed by a round of questions, which is the deciding factor for the ­elections. “JNUSU elections are ­conducted by ­students themselves. The election commission (EC) ­constitutes of students. After the code of conduct is set up by the EC, every candidate sticks to it. On the contrary, in DU the use of money and muscle power is more dominant,” says Sucheta De, national president, All India Students’ Association (AISA).
While in DU the fight is more about issues within the ­university, Student movements at JNU focus on issues of national importance. According to Syed Vali Ullah Khadri, ­national president, All India ­Students’ Federation (AISF), the country is ­witnessing ­tumultuous times under the current ­government “The ­government is ­trying to ­establish anti-people ­policies like the land acquisition policy, labour law reforms, ­saffronisation of education and so on. The reflection of all these policies can be seen in the ­campus as well.”
On the other hand, AISA is fighting against the government’s decision on binding commitments to the World Trade Organisation - General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO-GATS) on higher education (GATS is designed to increase trade liberalisation ­internationally, and includes ‘education’ as a service sector), resisting imposition of choice-based credit system, resisting saffronisation in appointments in various universities.
According to Sunand, state secretary of Students’ Federation of India (SFI), struggles on campus are linked to the larger struggle against the government’s agenda of saffronisation, privatisation and commercialisation of education. “Due to massive fund cuts in education, hundreds of outstation students don’t have any accommodation facility. Therefore, worsening hostel crisis which has been continuing since last six years is the main agenda for this year,” he says. Also, there are longstanding issues pertaining to increasing the merit-cum-means scholarship, dropout rate in various institutes, restoration of JNUSU elections as per the JNUSU constitution etc.
“Fight to reduce weightage for viva in entrance exam will continue. The 30% weightage for viva causes a structural ­discrimination for people from socially deprived and non-­English backgrounds. While the amount for fellowships such as JRF or non-NET research fellowships has increased, the merit-cum-means scholarship for students from economically deprived background remains Rs. 2,000 per month,” says De.
All India Students’ Federation (AISF)
Formation of a joint platform for the Comrade Hem and all other political prisoners
Dealt with issues of healthcare on campus
Students’ Federation of India (SFI)
Raising demand for accommodation for all outstation students and alternative accommodation until the hostel construction is done
Fought against anti-student policies such as fee hike for CSIR-JRF and budget cuts in education
All India Students’ Association (AISA)
Dormitories in Shipra, Koyna, Chandrabhaga hostels, expansion in capacity of Damodar hostel, pre-fabricated structure to be installed in Tapti, Mahi-Mandavi hostels as alternative accommodations
New 24X7 reading halls in the library and 24X7 canteen near library