Indore (Madhya Pradesh): As in the past several years, this year, too, the state government has rejected a proposal to hold student union polls in institutions of higher learning. “Students’ union elections aren’t on our agenda,” a top-ranking officer in the department of higher education (DHE) wishing anonymity said. He added that the department was focusing on implementation of National Education Policy, 2020, in an effective manner. The DHE had traditionally fixed September for the formation of students’ unions, but the fact remains that the department does not want to hold students’ polls.
“Students’ unions, which present the best organised way of building understanding between students and the institute administration, have no place in this state,” said Youth Congress leader Abhijeet Pandey. “There’s no respect for the Supreme Court’s directives and no reply to the University Grants Commission’s (UGC)’s missive that are for the conduct of students’ union elections in institutes of higher learning,” he added.
Students face multiple problems, especially related to exams and results, but there is no elected body to fight for their cause.
“The state government, apparently, doesn’t want students’ interference in policy decisions for higher education. Otherwise, there was no reason why elections weren’t conducted in the state,” NSUI leader Vikas Nandwana said.
After decades, elections were held in 2011 in indirect mode following a letter from the UGC in which it quoted the apex court order. But, after that, the government did not conduct elections for six years. In 2017 again, students’ elections were held, but the university-level council was not formed. Since then, the government again fell silent on students’ union formation.
Following this unsound ban on students’ unions, state universities, including Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya (DAVV), face contempt for not holding students’ union polls but they have no choice as right to grant permission for the polls rests with the state government. The apex court in 2006 had directed implementation of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations on students’ union elections.
Direct or indirect, or hybrid of both
The Lyngdoh Committee recommendations issued by the UGC in 2007 stated that students’ union elections should be conducted in direct or indirect manner or a hybrid of both over a period of five years.
‘Where the atmosphere of the university campus is adverse for the conduct of free and fair elections, the university, its constituent colleges and departments must initiate a system of student representations based on nominations, especially where elections are being held at present. It would be advisable, however, not to base such a nomination system purely on academic merit as is being practised throughout the country,’ the recommendations read.
“… all institutions must, over a period of five years, convert from the nomination model to a structured election model, that may be based on a system of parliamentary (direct) elections, or the presidential (indirect) system or a hybrid of both.”