5 Sept 2023
DUSU Elections: Student Voice or Political Showdown?
At long last, it has resurfaced – following a brief interlude of four years. The campus finds itself adorned anew with rallying cries, informative pamphlets, and animated debates. The Delhi University Students Union Elections have made their grand return, accompanied by an air of magnificence and curiosity. This spectacle unfolds with a unique significance, for the undergraduate populace stands as first-time spectators to the DUSU elections.The Delhi University Students Union stands as the embodiment of student representation, a body elected from a roster of 52 affiliated colleges and academic departments.
Revered as one of the most expansive exercises in youth democracy, these elections hold a distinction as an evidence to the robust engagement of the younger generation in the democratic process. Notwithstanding the sheer magnitude of the event, it is imperative to embark upon an inquiry that this article aspires to undertake. This inquiry delves into the intricacies of the DUSU electoral process, seeking to ascertain whether these elections merely serve as a theatrical display of political maneuvers orchestrated by specific factions and affiliations, or if they genuinely aspire to encapsulate the authentic resonance of the student community's collective voice.
The DUSU elections harbor their own complexities and grievances, and it is important to underscore that the intention of this article is not to advocate for the abolition of these elections. Rather, it underscores the necessity for a meticulous and discerning introspection of the current state of affairs. The Union bears a legacy that transcends generations, encapsulating within its realm a repository of political ideals that resonate profoundly among the youth of the nation. Additionally, it has fervently championed the multifarious demands of an extensive student populace.
The DUSU stands as an unwavering bulwark, having weathered the trials of time while confronting not only institutional forces but also the specter of violence ingrained within the state apparatus. The Union stands as an emblem, a living testament to the potency of youthful dynamism pitted against the capriciousness of arbitrary governance, embodying a symbol of revolution in its very essence. Its historical trajectory chronicles a narrative that traverses from steadfastly opposing the grip of the Emergency era to becoming a vocal advocate for justice in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya tragedy. Through each juncture, the DUSU stood valiantly at the vanguard, undaunted and resolute.
Even within the confines of the administrative echelons, the DUSU has served as a guiding luminary, casting its radiance upon students plunged into obscurity by the administration's actions. Whether it be orchestrating protests to dismantle the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) or successfully advocating for the cessation of online entrance examinations for LLB programs, the Delhi University Students Union epitomized its nomenclature, embodying its essence to perfection.
Notwithstanding its illustrious heritage, a palpable undercurrent of apprehension directed towards the DUSU has been steadily gaining momentum, albeit within a timeframe still deemed contemporaneous. This prevailing unease is characterized by a dwindling voter turnout, the substance of political parties' manifestos, and the overarching nature that pervades the entirety of the electoral process. The electoral proceedings have frequently been enveloped in controversy, frequently tainted by ploys of voter manipulation and regrettably, instances of violence. The legal confrontation between the All India Students' Association (AISA) and the Chief Election Officer in 2014 emerged as a pivotal juncture that played an instrumental role in reinstating a measure of integrity into the electoral apparatus.
Nevertheless, the electoral proceedings remain tantalizingly distant from the harsh reality of prevailing student predicaments. While various issues have found their place within the manifestos over the years, they have regrettably languished in unfulfilled promises. Ranging from the imperative task of ensuring a secure campus environment for women and students hailing from the northeastern regions to the construction of essential college hostels, and even the much-anticipated enactment of the room rent control act, these are matters that intimately resonate with the student body. Alas, these concerns have endured a lamentable state of neglect, remaining far from the sphere of realization.
In the present moment, the elections have regrettably transformed into a mere spectacle of political showmanship, driven by the machinations of national-level parties. They have devolved into a caricature, emblematic of the very reasons why the youth, in increasing numbers, opt to maintain a disengagement from the political sphere. Instead of embodying a sincere endeavor to comprehend the genuine demands of the student body and actively partake in grassroots political pursuits, the electoral process has devolved into a domain characterized by violence, unease, and financial influence.
The elections have taken an unvarnished departure from the noble ideals of engaging with the student populace's aspirations. Rather than facilitating open house town halls to foster a deeper understanding of student concerns, the focus has shifted towards ostentatious displays of vehicular fleets. These vehicular parades stand in stark contrast to the principles set forth in the Lyngdoh Committee report, an authoritative document that was intended to guide the democratic process.
The Committee's recommendations, including financial limitations and the stipulated duration for campaigning, have unfortunately been flouted with impunity through clever exploitation of loopholes. The very youth that is enjoined to champion environmental consciousness and minimize paper wastage is confronted with the irony of campuses inundated with pamphlets, in open defiance of the Lyngdoh Committee's guidelines. The core ethos of the electoral proceedings, which should apparently revolve around the pursuit of power for the betterment of the student community, has morphed into an unrelenting fixation on power for its own sake. This shift is not inherently a cause for skepticism, as politics inherently involves the acquisition of power. However, the point of concern arises when the sole aspiration becomes power in its singular form. In such instances, the essence of a union falters. At present, the DUSU serves as a microcosm that vividly mirrors the circuitous tapestry of politics permeating the broader national landscape. This parallel is disconcerting, particularly when the dynamics within the union resemble those governing the nation as a whole.
The potential for enhancement within the purview of the DUSU is vast, with the possibility of aligning more genuinely with the constituents it professes to advocate for. Urgent imperatives beckon its attention, demanding immediate consideration, as the formidable obstacles that loom before it have seldom appeared as formidable to overcome. The forthcoming election is poised to engage in extensive discourse and deliberation on the significant challenges that directly impact student concerns. Simultaneously, the administrative sphere presents its own set of challenges, including the imperative of instituting self-reform and extending its reach to encompass additional colleges, with a notable emphasis on girls' institutions.
Given the span of three years since the previous election, the upcoming iteration holds the distinction of being a watershed moment for the DUSU. The influx of entirely new visages onto the scene presents a unique opportunity for the union to embark on a transformative journey, reconfiguring itself into an entity that resonates as a genuine representation of the student body's collective aspirations.
For the electorate as well, this juncture carries profound significance, as the manner in which your ballot is cast will indelibly influence the trajectory that the union charts in the days to come. Therefore, it is paramount to transcend the allure of complimentary refreshments in the canteen or other enticements devised to capture your attention. Instead, channel your focus towards rigorous inquiry and thoughtful deliberation, fostering a climate of accountability. Ultimately, it bears reiteration that this union is, unequivocally, yours – an embodiment of your voice, your agency.
This piece expresses the opinions of the author alone and not S.C.A.R.
S.C.A.R neither endorses nor discredits any claims or opinions made in this write-up.