Student politics has for long been a matter of contention in India and when it comes to the University of Delhi, the idea of politics evokes all possible derogatory connotations. It was keeping these very negative associations in mind that the Literary Society organised a three day seminar-from 31st August to 2nd September-on Politics in Delhi University. On each day guests were invited to share valuable insights into the machinations of the system; later on, episodes of the satirical British sitcom Yes, Prime Minister! were screened to provide comic relief.
On the first day, Mr. Debraj Mookerjee, former Election Officer, Ramjas College, discussed the concept of isolates and advised the student community to shed their apolitical attitude. Being apolitical, he stressed, is to be indifferent, towards not just the supposedly dirty world of politics in the macrocosm but also towards one’s own problems in the microcosm. He emphasised the importance of participation, leadership and mobilisation-of individuals as well as ideas-for bringing change in the existing political system.
The second day saw Mr. Safwan Amir and Mr. Nayanjyoti, both former Secretaries, Ramjas Students’ Union, address the gathering. Mr. Amir shared amusing anecdotes from his wealth of experience as a student representative and talked about the nexus of power between the Union and the college administration. This, he hinted, was one of the primary reasons behind the widespread corruption and misuse of authority in the Union. However, he also indicted student community at large for being responsible for this sorry state of affairs and passionately advocated active involvement over passive rejection as the solution to the ills ailing our political system. His analogy of the lion and the lion-tamer-the former being unaware of its own superior strength-made an instant connect with the audience.
Thereafter, Mr. Nayanjyoti talked about the shallowness of so-called liberal intellectuals and their insensitivity towards poverty, unemployment and inclusive development. Highlighting the inter-connectivity of such seemingly diverse socio-economic phenomena as globalisation, neo-capitalisation, privatisation, he exposed the ideologies of indifference which liberal humanitarian education and pedagogy engenders. In the end, he appealed for participation in the political process not just for its own sake but with a sense of responsibility and interrogation.
The two presidential candidates for this year’s Ramjas Students’ Union election were invited to opine upon the relevance of politics in the University on the last day. While Mr. Sunil Singh was forced to cancel his engagement due to unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Manu Pande talked about bringing honesty and transparency into the system. He reminisced about his own apolitical attitude of the previous two years and stressed upon the urgent need to effect qualitative changes in the Union in particular and the student community at large in general. He also vouched to work towards creating a harassment and violence free atmosphere in Ramjas. Later on, he answered questions from the audience.