Decision on student elections in state draws mixed response

JALANDHAR: The government’s decision to resume the holding of student elections in universities and colleges across the state has been taken with a pinch of salt by the students in the state.

editorial@tribune.com

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 29

The government’s decision to resume the holding of student elections in universities and colleges across the state has been taken with a pinch of salt by the students in the state.

While the academic fraternity had been apprehensive about the decision after a 30-year lull in the state, students view the decision with scepticism – saying while empowering students is a democratic move, it shall only be successful if the process is held democratically.

The Tribune interacted with various students and academiians of the state and the region to ask their opinion on the issue today.

Tejinder Virli, district president of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, said, “It’s a very good move. The student elections were banned in 1984 and there was a valid reason to do so. But the consequent scenario in the state warrants student elections. This will greatly facilitate all the students in the state. Elections encourage leadership qualities among students. With grave anomalies happening in the education system and on campus, it is imperative that students find a voice of their own. Holding elections is the best way to ensure that.”

Rajinder Singh, President of the Punjab Students Union, said, “The decision has just been taken. Whether it is effective or not shall only be clear once we go through it. Presently, the decision seems to have been taken as a measure to woo students without seeing the implications because in the first place Punjab colleges don’t even have ample staff to get the elections conducted. There are 56 government degree colleges in the state with 1,800 sanctioned posts of which 1150 are empty and 850 are posts of guest teachers. Many colleges are on the verge of closure. There is no manpower in these institutions to ensure elections.”

“Moreover, if it happens as per the JNU pattern where the elections are held in merit and there is no use of muscle power or money, then it will be a very good step for the youth of the state. However, if the decision is politically motivated and serves to encourage partisanship, use of muscle power or creates political inclinations on the campus, then it shall be a worrisome scenario. Badly conducted elections are capable of deepening the crisis. The government will have to be very much wary about that,” he added.

Mangaljit Singh, district president of the Punjab Students Union said, “The proposal from the government isn’t clear so far. If the elections are held smoothly then only the move shall prove to be encouraging for students. Presently, the students are sceptical about it. Given the policies of the Congress government and the poor state of affairs of the post matric scholarship scheme – the prime concern on the minds of students is free and fair elections.”

Notably, the student union elections had been banned in the state in 1984. The decision had been taken due to the turmoil in the state during militancy since student politics was perceived to aggravate law and order problems during troublesome times. While various unions had been demanding the resumption of student elections in the state, after Haryana recently resumed its own student elections (after a 22 year ban) there was pressure on the Punjab government as well to follow suit.

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