By Kaavya Nair
Edited by Shambhavi Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
The massive Delhi University Student Union elections 2014 were held in over 83 colleges with more than 3, 50,500 students voting. Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarathi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of Bharatiya Janata Party, swept the elections with the promise to change the face of this prestigious university.
Following their takeover of power, they launched a campaign focusing on ‘atrocities towards women and their objectification’. The campaign was against ‘live in relationships’ and ‘love jihad’, which witnessed 200 partisans joining hands to form a human chain. While a minuscule percentage of students appreciated this step, the majority of the students believed it to be a cataclysmic campaign. It was aimed towards ensuring women’s safety; the defenders of the Indian culture contend that “Live-in relationships go against the grain of Indian culture and the institution of family. It is also true that hardly any such relationships succeed.”
The campaign’s agenda centers on women’s safety and spreading the anti – objectification of women among the student community. The party representatives believe that it is a means to express concern on the rising crime rate against women. They believe that live-in relationships do not provide the girl financial security as marriage does. There are many cases of girls alleging rape by their boyfriends, and that has to stop. They say that live-in relationships do not provide safety to the woman and hence, should be banned. What do they have to say about marital rape, domestic violence, extramarital affairs and abandonment? Marriage is as safe or as unsafe as any other relationship. It is simply a matter of choice.
Besides this, the logistical and administrative problems that the students face should garner greater focus by the ABVP. Delhi University has a high level of accommodation constraints; the number of students requiring accommodation on campus is much higher than the number that is available. This has led to soaring prices for accommodation. If someone manages to get a decent room, the facilities provided do not match the amount being paid. Safety levels vary, and the hassle that students face on a yearly basis to get an affordable place to stay, is an issue that should be the central focus of the Students’ Union.
At this juncture the question is where does student welfare activism end and moral policing begin? Do our elected representatives have the choice to make personal choices for us? To what extent can political gains interfere in issues of personal importance to individuals? The fact that such thoughts are being propagated in one of the leading universities of the country is inherently problematic to the essence, as the fact is that it plants the seeds for regressive thoughts among the students. The camping essentially means that people indulging into such relationships aren’t mature enough and they are constrained to act in a way ABVP wants. Is that justified? Being an elected representative implies advocating the views of the masses and not blatantly imposing their party’s views. Students should have the freedom to choose the manner in which they want to live. This myopic understanding of Indian Culture has long provided an excuse to strangle our many freedoms. Such campaigns happening in the midst of those regarded as the brightest minds of the country, will only create a backlash of the supposed progress of thought that is present today, a progress that such campaigns show in the light of ‘westernization’ but in essentiality is the promotion of greater freedom and equality.
In the highlight of these events comes the essential question, should the student body be focused on working towards issues that improve the lives of students to create a more holistic environment, or should the attention be drawn towards spreading regressive thoughts among the student community? The choice is clear.
Kaavya Nair is a currently a second year Political Science major at Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is passionate about liberal arts and obsessed about issues of International significance. An avid debater and a passionate writer she strongly believes that a dedicated youth working together can create change for the better, and hopes to positively impact the world through her passion and dedication for words.