Please attend our press conference tomorrow at Embassy restaurant in CP at 4 pm on commercialization of education, education bill and further protest at Parliament… This is what an SMS invite intimating media persons about a conference last week, read. At the session, the journalists were treated to tea, coffee, juices and vegetarian snacks.
Conferences by Student Unions are no longer about inviting the media to their offices or the Campus. It’s now about lunches at clubs, restaurants and even plush hotels. The budget of such a meet ranges between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000, depending on the venue. The parties rely on their funds but admit they often collect money and organise such meets to up their reputation.
Vikas Dahiya of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), says the trend is catching up because of paucity of space on the Campus. “We usually organise such conferences in the Campus, but when the issue is of greater importance, we go for restaurants at a central location. We book a restaurant and arrange for tea, coffee, juices and snacks for the media. As a student organisation, we have to keep a tab on the expenditure. Though we have funds, we contribute money at times,” he says.
National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), ABVP and even Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) organise many meets at Nirula’s, Kamla Nagar. At a conference held recently, the menu included soft drinks and snacks like burgers and cutlets, says a party personnel. NSUI also organises conferences at the Constitution Club where they treat guests to a fancy non-veg buffet.
Anand Pandey says, “When advocating a major cause, we invite mediapersons to hotels and restaurants in CP and Pandara Road.” A few parties, however, still believe in simplicity. Ravi Rai, General Secretary All India Students’ Association, says, “If not in the DU lawns, we host meets at the café outside Constitution Club. The big parties do it at ‘posh’ places, but this is dirtying student politics.” Mahesh Mohan of Students Federation of India, adds, “We don’t support this trend.”