Presidential debate at JNU puts focus on hostels,water

Among cheers and slogans from students,presidential candidates for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union elections took to the stage on Wednesday evening to woo voters a last time before the code of conduct comes into force.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | New Delhi | Published: September 14, 2012 12:40 am

Among cheers and slogans from students,presidential candidates for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) elections took to the stage on Wednesday evening to woo voters a last time before the code of conduct comes into force.

The issue of new students sleeping in dormitories and the living conditions on campus came up for debate yet again as most organisations questioned the the relevance of an interim union.

All India Student Association (AISA) candidate Om Prasad spoke about the achievements of the incumbent AISA-led union. “In a first of its kind,gender sensitisation classes were held on the campus to create awareness against sexual harassment. The move was initiated by us,” he said.

Om Prasad also spoke about the union’s efforts in getting a written agreement from the administration about increasing merit-cum-means scholarships.

Student Federation of India’s (SFI) presidential candidate Kopal Singh countered AISA’s claim and said the union did not do anything to address basic issues such as shortage of water on the campus. “There is a need to harvest water on campus and make better use of the tree cover,” she said.

Kopal Singh also spoke about the need to have a student member on the panel conducting viva-voce examinations for admissions — as was the practice till 1983 — to ensure that no discrimination is possible.

Vinay Kumar from the All India Backward Students’ Forum (AIBSF) questioned the union’s inability to implement the 27 per cent reservation for other backward classes in its entirety.

Candidate Khalid Khan from a lesser-known organisation,Campus Front of India (CFI),spoke on the need for organisations to address students’ issues that have been pending for more than five years. “Organisations raise issues on occasions like these (the presidential debate) but do nothing to solve them,” he said.

But the speaker who drew the maximum cheer from students was Independent candidate Abhay Kumar of the School of Social Sciences. He criticised AISA for not working for student issues on campus even though “they have had been retaining four central panel seats since 2007.”

National Students’ Union of India’s Iqbal Singh urged students to reject the Left politics on campus and consider a “secular democratic alternative”. The organisation has been pressing for making the campus WiFi and for a placement cell for students.

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