Eye on prospective votes, student unions lend hand

By Samyukta Maindarkar & Dwaipayan Ghosh | TNN

New Delhi: It’s that time of the year again when various students unions in Delhi University (DU) want to win over their prospective electorate by providing them all the information regarding the application process.

Infographic credit: Times of India

All the prominent student bodies, including the NSUI, ABVP, SFI and AISA, have set up their stalls. Even United Students, a relatively new political entity, has managed to rope in an impressive number of volunteers.

But many applicants felt that some union volunteers themselves were clueless about the process. “The form isn’t very complicated, but I did have to clarify a few things. The union people weren’t of much help and they sent me to other counters,” said Seema Agarwal, who was submitting her form at Kirori Mal College.

SFI member Sania Hashmi admitted that students had come to them with wrongly filled forms, asking what to do about it. “There are always cases of people being mislead. We don’t know does it, but many students have come to us from other counters, asking for, or verifying information.”

Claiming that they have set up stalls to help out the students, she said: “Students, especially from outside Delhi, require guidance. They are completely unaware of the admission procedure and don’t know their way around the campuses either. We are here to help them out.”

Though many unions have set up their stalls across the varsity, DU has authorised only Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) to put up their help-desks at information centres. “Even unions such as the ABVP and NSUI are allowed to function under the DUSU banner. The president and vice-president of the DUSU are from different student wings of political parties. They have set up stalls under their own party name, but do not conduct any political activity,” said Gurmeet Singh, DU Proctor.”

He, however, added that in other colleges where centralised forms were being distributed, it is the prerogative of the principal to allow stalls inside the campus. “The university plays no role in it,” he said.

Help desks set up outside the SC/ST registration centres are also allowed by the university. These comprise largely of student unions from the North-eastern states such as the Naga Students’ Union, Delhi, from Nagaland, the All Bodo Students’ Union from Assam, and the Mizo Zirlai Pawl from Mizoram. The Ambedkar Students Organisation is also present. “Anybody who is helping out the SC/ST students has been allowed to put up their stalls,” said the Proctor.

The university will remove any unauthorised stalls from the information centres. Major student organisations, however, claim that their work actually help the confused students. “We have already taken the required permission from the authorities concerned before putting up this stall. Moreover, we have been providing this kind of help for many years,” said Naresh Thakur, general secretary of NSUI.

*Originally printed in The Times of India’s Delhi edition on June 3, 2007, in the Times City section