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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Electioneering

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Election campaigns for institute's student governing counsel at our college are lots of fun. We are peaceful democratic institution so there isn’t any sloganeering or rallying but there is one public address opportunity — used by seniors to make fun of and ask awkward questions to candidate — and many door to door dorm to dorm campaigning. There is some regionalism, I suspect, but not much. Need to blindly support, or at least prefer, member of one’s ethnicity is evil of Indian nationhood that lurks here too, though in intensity insignificant to that in real elections. There is some sexism too, and while it’s low it’s perhaps sufficient enough to affect election results. It’s difficult to know this for sure because such information is not easy to obtain and it’s difficult to ascertain whether men think that women can’t handle a particular job or women think that men will think so and hence don’t contend. This, if any, is primarily for post of member of student council and not at all for other positions lower in governing hierarchy.

Election campaigns at dorms are what brings most fun. A candidate is made to dance, sing, mimic or joke, apart from delivering his manifesto or speech. Constituents use this opportunity to enjoy the torment of their peers since listening to manifesto is often an boring activity. And that happens at lot more in women’s dorms, who, perhaps, on finding that man on their fingertips for few days, practice for their post-wedding adventures! What students can come up is only limited by their imagination, and includes from special funny rules that pitching candidate must follow, to bargaining for all votes of dorm under certain circumstances including leaving them in peace and not bother with pitching.

And even when rest of India has gone electronic, we still follow paper ballots. Grrr.

4 comments:

vikasgupta said...

Nice read! So this is how it is in IIM-A.

JNU Student's Union (hereafter JNUSU) elections, though peaceful, are very different. There is a lot of activity like the normal electoral process minus the muscle, money or criminals (a few stray incidents have happened in the past though). Hand made posters, debates, room to room campaign, pamphlets, sloganeering, outdoor campaign and whatnot! The process lasts a fortnight!

The Lyngdoh committee had admired JNU model yet the Supreme Court last year stalled JNUSU elections for not following the Lyngdoh model! So JNUSU elections are in limbo and the matter is with the Supreme Court.

BTW, 'sloganeering and rallying' do happen in "peaceful and democratic institutions". JNU is at least one such place.

However, there is no gainsaying the fact that with the rise of criminalisation of politics in the country (especially in student politics), any rallying or sloganeering is judged as bad! So can't blame you really.

'Haasil,' the film, depicted it wonderfully; another good film on university life is 'Hazaron khwaishein Aisi'! Guess you may have seen them; your IMDB profile was so rich when I last visited it!

Ashish Gupta said...

JNU is a one of its kind of popular college in India so I'd say that its election are important and might herald beginning of student politics. No such thing here mostly because nobody really bothers much post and nobody has much time either. I've not seen Haasil but have seen other one.

vikasgupta said...

Hmm!

Watch Haasil; You'll love it.

Partha Pratim said...

Nicely written

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