New Delhi: In India, 18 is the age to become a certified adult, an adult, mature enough to decide the who do you want your country to be governed by. This is an exciting part about coming to college, you see. You get to vote, for DUSU as well as your college specific elections. It gives you a sense of power, a sense of authority, and with authority, there always lays a certain sense of responsibility, to choose the right person, because power is tempting.
India’s electoral system, although systematically laid down on paper, is completely chaotic in actuality. Beneath that facade of morality, there is deep-seated hunger of power and authority, and that not happening, is a rarity, not an impossibility, but a rarity, because it has been in the past that we have got voices, which produce rigor in them, for the benefit of the people. And just to clarify, when I say people, it does not hold any congruency with the nation. But, let’s leave that matter for another time, and talk about how elections are carried out in DU.
12th September, the coming week, is the date for the elections, and the campaigning has been going on, for weeks, literally. I am going to talk about how campaigning in DU works out. It is precisely the campaigning system, that has led to the political environment of the university go into pits.
Firstly, the excessive use of paper, in spite of several warnings from the regulating commission, to minimise the use of paper, and completely stop littering the campus. It seems, these people, have stuffed their ears with cotton. Even today, you can see groups of people, and this is the case with almost all the parties, coming into your colleges, and throwing chits and pieces of papers in the air, tearing down other candidates’ posters, literally pushing shards of paper into your hands, and begging, I am not even joking, begging you to support them.
Being a Ramjasite, I have the first-hand experience of it, every day. The moment I enter the college, in the morning, supporters would be standing on either side of the entrance, shouting their ballot numbers in your ears, with a disdained hopeful miracle in their absolutely bright minds, that you will somehow memorize them that way. Like 20 people shouting random numbers in your ear and hoping that somehow, you would remember that particular ballot number. Apart from that, I would be sitting in the ECA, with people, and they would come and shout in their baritones,
“Hi friends, my name is so and so, and I am contesting for the post of so and so, please vote and support me.” I want to ask, “Why?” I mean, why the hell, why on earth will i vote for you? Do you think it is some childhood prattle? You come to me, disturb my peace, boast about yourself, and ask me to vote for you, and then leave. You do not give me any reasons as to why would i vote for you? What is your agenda? What is it that you are going to work upon? How is your manifesto different or more viable than anyone else’s? What have you done before? None of that, and I am expected to vote for you? This is what a voter’s rationality is reduced down to.
After whatever happened in Ramjas, and experiencing that violence from a close and being the victim of it, I now know, the value of a vote, its worth. It is very convenient for one to come and tell you their ballot numbers and leave, and many of the freshers fall into this prey. Candidates and parties, use various strategies to ensure their win. Like, sacking easy to memorize ballot combinations, that mostly have repetitive numbers, or giving candidatures to people whose name start with the letter A, to secure ballot numbers and etc. They will do all that they can, to promote themselves and ensure that they win, from taking freshers to the movies, treating them in cafes and stuff like that, and freshers often fall for these strategies. This is not what that is going to matter in the long run.
What is going to matter in the long run, is to what extent, the infrastructure of your college, is suitable for people with special needs, how clean and garbage free is your campus, whether your classes would be held regularly or not, what is their budget allocation, Whether students are safe from sexual harassment or physical violence or not, whether you are allowed equal participation in extra-curriculum or not, Whether dissent is allowed or not, whether you are able to hold seminars or plays without the fear of being beaten up, whether you are allowed to criticise or not, and most importantly, whether the true spirit of a university is allowed to breathe freely or not, that is, whether free speech, debate, and discussion are allowed or not. This is what that is going to matter in the long run. All those treats will go down the drain, by the next morning.
I am probably going to get threats in spite of not having named or defamed anybody. I just want to clarify that I have no tangible allegiance to any political party whatsoever, and I am not a Pakistan-funded Naxalite because I vouch for free-speech. Violence, pomp and show, this air of ostentatiousness will not translate into any gain for the student body, in a totality. So, look around carefully. Very Carefully. What happened in Ramjas, six-seven months ago, affects our decisions even today. Those who perpetrated violence and those who took an opportunistic advantage out of it, have completely hijacked the narrative and ripped apart DUs political environment. A voter’s rationality cannot be that small, is it?
So next time when you decide to vote a candidate because he or she is your classmate, or a friend, or a friend’s friend, who has probably taken you to a nice good cafe and treated you, or has given you his or her word that he will always be there for you, no matter what, think of the longer run. Ask them all these questions. Prepare god-damn litmus tests, to see whether a particular person is worth the vote or not. Think of your identity, and how harmful the contemporary hate politics that goes on, is.
The voter is more powerful than the one standing for the power. Let’s actualize this thought from now, in our campuses and take our narratives back from them. The moment we realize this, things will begin to change. This mist of chaos will begin to disappear. Just think of the long run, and then cast your vote. It matters, and it matters because only we can bring the change. The politics that is going on are dangerous, and we really do need to change the narrative. Let’s do that this 12th September. See You!
#Staytuned for more from Aman Sinha!