CHAPTER- I INTRODUCTION “I have always been interested in politics
“I have always been interested in politics. I was in the student union before, very active.”
-Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Student politics is one of the most discussed topics today. When the discussions is on the topic on Students politics, most of the parents and teachers do not want their children students to participate in politics and oppose the student politics. As they want them to read and acquire high grade in examination and is mostly concerned with their grades and position in the class.
Students in institutes of higher education often engage in campus-politics. Almost every higher institutes has the apex student body dealing directly with the higher authorities on student-related and other academic issues. So in order to gain control over the union, the students competes electorally with each other. Since students politics (campus politics ) act as productive background for future politicians of the country.
It is commonly believed that the students form the basic structure of the society. The role of the students has not been only confined within their regular study but their role needs to be counted for the construction of the society as well. Today, the world has been divided on various discourses, such as ethno-cultural, religious, gender, ecological etc. thus the role of students has been also manifested in different forms and levels. There exist different views and opinion on the issue whether students be allowed to take part in politics. Since the politics hamper the every corner of society, students should not be forbidden to take part in political activities in day to day life. On the other hand they should be aware and trained for politics up to a limit. They should have liberty to take part in politics during their studies. During old societies, religion played a significant role in attitude formation or decision making process. Since the democracy took over religion, voting is such a decision-making process in societies which have accepted ‘Universal Adult Franchise” and periodically elect their representatives to the legislative assemblies.
Unfortunately, there exist no proper system to educate our students for professional politics. Most of the parents want their children to acquire high grade in examination and fear that the politics will misguide their children. But having such ideology is not suitable all the time because education is not the name of a degree or certificate. It is a light and way of life which teaches us humanity and civilization. If we neglect the important factor of politics from education then we cannot build a healthy society.
“You may not be interested in politics , but politics is interested in you” as quoted by one of the philosopher ,Politics is important for our society like other basic factors. It needs planning and preparation like other sectors of society. We cannot isolate politics from a developed society. We are living in the important part of the world. If we lose any opportunity to build our nation, then we will not face the challenges of the day. Therefore, we must prepare our young generation for today’s challenges. (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/student-politics-participation-students-muhammad-ishaq )
According to the positive eye they strongly spell “Today’s students are tomorrow’s citizens”. Students are the only intelligent ones which sense the exact future happenings. Surely, the impact of politics on students has the burning impact on today’s world. We find many students indulging in politics these days. Now, a question arises is “Why the politics is treated as an active part in the student field?” As great say “Politics educates youth to think critically, Act responsibly, Lead effectively, and live humanly.” As students are the youth of the country they should involve in the politics but after gaining some knowledge, which helps the students to develop fine qualities of public speaking, which may help them in holding their future interviews. Many impressive leaders were known to have become good speakers in their college days. It is very useful if students know about the day-to-day politics which gives them training in early stages. If we keep a point on the country side a student will be able to know the different ways for service of nation not only politics.
There are different views and opinions on students politics, if we come in favor with studies, student’s participation has certain disadvantages mainly it is immense loss to the students because of the wastage of their valuable time. Several students through participation start indiscipline in colleges. Most of the students for these activities are rusticated from educational interests.. Many politicians are dragging the students in bunds and rally’s for their interests, which in turn spoil students’ lives. As a student one should involve in bunds and rally’s but to some extent. The students are the pride for the nation they have ability to chase the difficulties in life. So, they equally have a right to participate in the politics to make a better tomorrow. ( Govind, Sneha, http://www.festsamachar.com/campus/impact-of-politics-on-students)
“All power to imagination.” In the late 60s, the walls of the factories and streets in France were covered with slogans like this. These slogans, mostly leftists, were chorused by one-fifth of the French population against capitalism, consumerism and traditional institutions. In 1968, students in Poland, Germany, Spain and across the globe protested especially against authoritarianism and imperialism. These protests collectively resulted in the social revolution in these regions. As a matter of fact, having realized the strength of students from these global phenomena, student protests in Nepal in 1947 and students’ participation in the 50s rebellion against the Rana regime, the Communist Party of Nepal and Nepali Congress formed students’ unions, namely ANNFSU and NSU respectively.
These narratives are relevant because unlike its impact in history, the role and future of student politics is important one. The core of politics is to discourse on agendas and find political solutions to problems. Many argue that the purpose of attending colleges and universities is to pursue a degree and get a good job. Whereas middle-class families want their children to study well and secure their livelihood. People don’t want students to engage in political activities due to its connection to money, violence and muscle power. Others argue that the purpose of an educational institution is not only to instruct the curriculum but also to produce equally responsible and aware citizens by facilitating dialectical research and politically conscious. The student unions, on the other hand, act as a link between students and the campus administration, make the administration accountable, help them organize events and address grievances faced by students. So it is almost contradictory to the practices of democracy and liberty to expect apolitical campuses and universities.
However, the incompetence of our student leaders and several other differences in student politics cannot be neglected. The political storm that India witnessed last year after the suicide of a ‘Dalit’ scholar at the University of Hyderabad and episodes of events in Jawaharlal Nehru University have several lessons. In these rows, students used their political platforms, under the norms and values of democracy, to take political stands and questioned their laws and policies, advocated social justice, and also sought the definition of nationality. It was seen that the student leaders had clear policies and strategies based on their political inclinations the progressive left or the traditional right. Contrary to this, mot student unions are mere sister organizations of mainstream political parties. Many of the leaders in the working committee of the student unions have come into power from the favoritism of political leaders. This is why their actions and strategies are frequently dictated by their parent political party. For example, during the Madhesh agitation in 2015, no student unions played a proactive role in ending the political deadlock. Student leaders have to realize their responsibility in social transformation and nation building. (Acharya, lochan. (https://thehimalayantimes.com/opinion/student-politics-role-future)
K.S. Sabarinadhan, son of former speaker of Kerala State Legislative Assembly, the late G. Karthikeyan, entered the political arena in 2015 after winning the election from Aruvikkara constituency and becoming one of the youngest members of the Kerala Assembly. In a short period of time he has garnered a reputation as a proactive MLA as well as a sensible legislator. The management graduate who used to be a senior manager with Tata Trusts began his journey from the prestigious College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET).
“In school in Loyola, I was pretty studious, although I used to take part in various extracurricular activities. CET brought me out of the private school cocoon and gave me a more accurate picture of society. Growing up in a politically-active household, I was always aware of current affairs, and in CET, I became active in student politics. Off-college and political experiences influenced me much more than electrical engineering, which was the course I was pursuing. There were people from different parts of the state as well as the country studying there. So, I got to learn how differently various people view politics, religion, and social issues.
Working with Tata Trusts was an enriching experience that helped me understand in-depth, the country’s social realities. I travelled to several places which, otherwise, I would not have seen, such as remote tribal villages. There are many highly-qualified people from some of the best universities in the world, working for the welfare of people in these villages many of them in conflict zones. I learned from them that many serious issues that I viewed in black and white are not that simple. Campus politics is important as far as students are concerned. There have been several incidents when campus politics have gone out of control. Things usually turn sour when the management ignores the students when taking decisions on behalf of their welfare and studies. It is the only platform for students to express their issues and opinions. Taking away politics from campus will further alienate them and might lead them to more radical methods”. (Aswin V.N. (http://www.thehindu.com/education/campus-politics-is-important/article19980714.ece) UPDATED: NOVEMBER 04, 2017 12:47 IST
As we know in this age of political advancement and awakening, the students’ life in itself has been a politics for the last many years. Moreover, every young man has some inspirations and some sentiments. These inspirations and sentiments can only be given a practical shape if they are allowed to understand their problems and they should have a full say in making those problems solved in the right way. The students have their own affairs and discussion, such discussion involved their personal politics and the politics of students’ life.
Lyngdoh rule on the campus
The recent interim order of the Supreme Court to implement the Lyngdoh committee recommendations on students’ union elections is widely accepted by the academic community. It of course was a setback to the vested interests that advocated for apolitical elections in colleges and universities. The six-member committee headed by the former election commission Sri. J.M. Lyngdoh, was appointed by the MHRD on the direction of the Supreme Court in December 2005 had to study on the diverse specifics of student union elections. After its regional meetings for public discussions in Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Delhi, and considering the views of various parties, in May 2006, the committee submitted its report to the Ministry for Human Resources Development as well as to the Supreme Court of India.
Appointed by the apex, the Lyngdoh panel, in its efforts to detain undesirable elements from spoiling the campus peace during elections, had recommended;
a. The minimum and maximum age of 17 to 22 years, respectively, for undergraduate students and a minimum age of 24 years for postgraduate students to be eligible to vote. The panel further said the relaxation in the age limit would be given appropriately in professional colleges, where the courses often range between four and five years, and for research students in universities, it had been specified at 28 years. Only those students, who had attained minimum permissible percentage of attendance as prescribed in a college or university, or 75 per cent where it had not been prescribed, would be eligible to vote.
b. The contesting candidates shall have one opportunity to contest for the post of office-bearers and two opportunities for the post of an executive member.
c. To keep anti-social elements away from the campus politics, any student with a criminal record, which included trial in a case or a conviction, a misdemeanor, or being subjected to any disciplinary action by university authorities, would not be eligible to contest.
d. To check the use of big money in student politics, the maximum limit for spending by a student in election had been fixed at Rs 5,000. The political parties were completely banded from financing the elections of candidates of their affiliated student organization’s as the students were only permitted to raise small funds from contribution among themselves.
e. There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. It also prohibits use of printed posters, pamphlets or any other election material as only handmade posters would be allowed.
The question raised before the Court was whether an educational institution can legally prohibit political activities within the college campus and forbid students from attending or organizing meetings other than the official meetings and whether such restriction or prohibition would amount to infringement of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution under Article 19 (I) (a), and (c). The Court was of the opinion that such restrictions will fall under ‘reasonable restrictions’ under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution.
The Constitution guarantees all citizens with the following fundamental rights under Article 19 (1)(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions.
The Constitution itself clarifies that “the State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part (Part III of the Constitution which explains the fundamental rights) and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void”. The Court that is assumed to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens from any kind of its infringement through state intervention surprisingly invents that forbidding such rights to students could be considered as ‘reasonable restriction’
The Constitution itself allows the State to impose reasonable restrictions on the fundamental rights. It also explained the concrete conditions under which such restrictions can be imposed. The Constitution states that, nothing in sub-clause (a) and (c) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such laws impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. Hence it is vividly clear that such fundamental rights can be restricted only when it consequently affects the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality etc. Furthermore, whatever restrictions imposed on the fundamental rights can be done only by the State. (Rajesh,K.K https://archives.peoplesdemocracy.in/2006/1203/12032006_ragesh.htm)
Supreme Court arrived at the conclusion that the ban on political activities of students shall amount to an infringement of the fundamental right to form associations, freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution. While stating this, the committee quotes a 1981 report of a UGC committee, which restates the necessity of political activities. Political activities in the Universities is natural because the university is a community of thinking people, of those who are exploring the frontiers of knowledge and of those who criticize and evaluate every idea before accepting it. Our democratic tradition, and the constitution, ensures fundamental rights to all citizens, which include freedom of speech and thought, and freedom of association.. One of the important recommendations of Lyngdoh Committee is about the right of universities to decide the mode of elections. The committee while recognizing the autonomy of the university recommends, “Subject to the autonomy of the universities in respect of the choice of the mode of election, all universities must institute an apex student representative body that represents all students, colleges, and departments coming under the particular university. In the event that the university is wide spread, individual colleges may constitute their own representative bodies, which would further elect representatives for the apex university body”.
One must understand the spirit of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations, which uphold the democratic rights of students, and the statutes of universities towards materializing democracy in its true sense in the campuses, hence any mechanical interpretation and implementation must be resisted alertly. Lyngdoh committee recommendations will become a well-built weapon to the progressive student politics that consistently fights to ensure democratic rights of the student community.(Rajesh,K.K https://archives.peoplesdemocracy.in/2006/1203/12032006_ragesh.htm)
The committee’s report deliberately ignores the phrase ‘Student Politics’, instead uses phrases like ‘Student Elections’ and ‘Student Representation’. While it romanticizes the role of student movements in the “Satyagraha machine” before independence, the report goes on to construct its image of a student union as primarily concerned with campus issues, protected from political and ideological discourse. At one point, the report criticizes the role of political organization’s as they unnecessarily politicize the election process. The Lyngdoh Committee apparently wants elections, but without politics. It is not only an unrealistic goal, but also a highly questionable one. It is easy to be turned off by politics when we witness the violent hooliganism that is often carried out in the name of Student Politics. But that doesn’t mean we can or should wish away the existence of political parties in any political process. As the Lyngdoh Committee has shown, good intentions with meaningful reforms in student politics. (http://thecompanion.in/how-the-lyngdoh-committee-recommendations-are-actually-strengthening-the-hold-of-established-parties/ )
Voting BehaviourModern democracies have introduced universal adult franchise. The right to vote has been conferred on all the citizens without any kind of discrimination. In India also all the citizens irrespective of their difference of colour, class, caste, creed, religion, region, race or sex are given the right to vote. The right to vote is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitutional law of the country. In India, every man or woman of 18 years of age is entitled to enroll himself or herself as a voter and to vote in the public elections. Elections serve as the central political expression and exercise of power within democratic states(Jones, Martin, Rhys, and Woods 2006).
It is philosophically accepted that in a democracy, each vote is equally valid amongst all other votes and thus each eligible voter casts only one equally valued vote. (Jones, Martin, Jones, Rhys, and Woods, Michael. 2006). Article 326 of the Indian Constitution grants universal adult suffrage to citizen who is above 18 years of age. Elections and voting are an crucial part of the democratic political system. One of the major tasks of the political parties is to contest elections. They select such candidates who have greater chances of winning, who have greater influence on voters. Voting refers to the political process of electing representatives to a legislative body. The elected representatives would play an important role in decision-making process.
“Voting? is one of the most commonly used terms in contemporary age of democratic politics. The democratic systems, can be termed as number system, where the party with the highest number forms the government and each adult citizen uses “voting? as a means for expressing his/her approval or disapproval of governmental decisions, policies and programmers of various political parties and the qualities of the candidates who are engaged in the struggle to get the status of being the representatives of the people. In a limited way voting refers to the function of electing representatives by casting votes in elections.( Hazarika, Biraj )
However, in broad terms, as Richaed Rose and Harve Massavir point out, voting covers as many as six important functions:-
1. It involves individual’s choice of governors or major governmental policies;
2. It permits individuals to participate in a reciprocal and continuing exchange of influence with office holders and candidates;
3. It contributes to the development or maintenance of an individual’s allegiance to the existing constitutional regime;
4. It contributes to the development or maintenance of a voter’s disaffection from existing constitutional regime;
5. It has emotional significance for individuals; and
6. For some individuals it may be functionless i.e. devoid of any emotional or political significant personal consequences.
Voting is the main form of political participation in liberal democratic societies and the study of voting behavior is a highly specialized sub-field within political science. The analysis of voting patterns always focuses on the determinants of why people vote as they do and how they arrive at the decisions they make. Sociologists tend to look to the socio-economic determinants of support for political parties, observing the correlations between class, occupation, ethnicity, sex, age and vote; political scientists have concentrated on the influence of political factors such as issues, political programmers, electoral campaigns, and the popularity of party leaders on voting behavior. (Harrop, M. and Miller, W. L. 1987)
Voting behavior is a form of electoral behavior. Understanding voters behavior can explain how and why decisions were made either by public decision-makers, which has been a central concern for political scientists or by the electorate. (Goldman, Sheldon, June 1966).
To make inferences and predictions about behavior concerning a voting decision, certain factors such as gender, race, culture or religion must be considered. Moreover, key public influences include the role of emotions, political socialization, tolerance of diversity of political views and the media. The effect of these influences on voting behavior is best understood through theories on the formation of attitudes, beliefs, schema, knowledge structures and the practice of information processing. For example, surveys from different countries indicate that people are generally happier in individualistic cultures where they have rights such as the right to vote (Diener, Ed January 2000).
Additionally, social influence and peer effects, as originating from family and friends, also play an important role in elections and voting behavior (Braha, D., & de Aguiar, 2017).
The degree to which voting decision is affected by internal processes and external influences alters the quality of making truly democratic decisions.
Determinants of voting Behavior:
The behavior of a voter is influence by several factors such as religion, caste, community, language, money, policy or ideology, purpose of the polls, extent of franchise and the like political parties and groups make use of these variables for the sake of winning the battle of the ballot box. Despite making their professions for enlightened secularism, politicians can be found invoking appeals to the religious and communal sentiments of the people; they can also be found involved in exploiting the factors of language or money to achieve the purpose of emerging successful in the war of votes. Appeals are issued and canvassing campaigns are conducted in the name of a particular policy or ideology for the same purpose. The interest of the voters and accordingly their behaviour at the time of voting is also influenced by the nature or purpose of the elections or the extent of the suffrage. The force of charisma has its own part to play where by voters are influenced by the slogan like “Garibi Hatao”, or ‘A vote for a pair of bullocks is a vote for Panditji is and a vote for panditji vote for stability and progress; or ‘ Indira means India, India means Indira’ etc. Voting Behaviour studies can be divided into two major categories; one school of thought has followed the sociological approach. The study which is most representative of this point of view is contained in the book ‘voting’ by Berelson, Lazararsfeld and Mcphee. It stresses the fact that socio-economic and ethnic status is related to the process of the voters choice. The conclusion in the books ; Within the various social strata (ethnic, religious and economic) the political parties maintain fairly constant rates of support which differ markedly from one stratum to next .In order to account for this, one has to assume that political discussion goes. On mainly within certain groups and is much less likely to cross social barriers of all kinds. The other school of thought is represented by the authors of the American voters. In contrast with the sociological approaches of the Columbia school the Ann Arbor group presented the psychological and political approach. The psychological approach does recognize the role of social characteristics like socio-economic status, religion and family influence. However, it argues “The distribution of social characteristics in a population varies but slowly over a period of time. Yet crucial fluctuations in the national vote occur from election to election. Such fluctuation cannot be accounted for by independent variables which over brief spans of time, do not vary. The attitudinal approach directed more attention to political objects of orientation such as the candidate and the issues, which do shift in the short term. Parties, candidate and issues are the immediate determinants of voting behavior. They are the intervening variables. The data pertaining to the elections and the electoral process can help us to analyze the voting behavior of the people of India.( Akhter, Zahida and Ah. Sheikh, Younis )
The voting behavior studies conducted in India have identified the following main political and socio-economic factors which act as determinants of voting behavior in India are as follows.
Race: Sometimes and in some regions, yet race plays a role like in North Eastern states, it will be very tough to get elected by any south Indian and so is the case with south India also.
Religion: It is as fact that religion plays a important role especially where both the followers Hindus and Muslims are situated in a constituency. This gave a support to Religion based parties. Though in a secular state like India, it must not be used.
Casteism : This is the biggest determinants of the voting behavior for the past five decades in India. This is the most ancient and widely used factor. Parties give tickets to the candidate of a caste which has the majority in the constituencies.
Regionalism: After 1990s it is getting more and more importance. Demanding separate region, promoting region specific interest, claiming representation to end exploitation etc. are the main emerging causes from regionalism.
Language: Language does not play a big role but at national level but it is deciding factor at state level politics
Charismatic Leaders: Leaders like J. L. Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Jai Prakash Narayan, attract a number of voters due to their personal influence of behaviour, look, style, and ideology.
Ideology: Some political ideologies play a deciding factor like democrats, socialism and communism.
Development: Development factor is practised in developed democracy. It is a sign of old and smooth running democratic system. It is expected that this is the main and desirable factor that should play a big role in determining the voting behaviour.
Incidences: Some important and sudden events and incidences can change the equations in politics.
Cadre: Some of the voters are emotionally attached to the political parties and they vote in the name of the party only.
Individuals: The ability and specialty and popularity of the individuals as the candidate also influence the voters.
Statement of the Problem
Given the special significance of students in the politics of many new nations, certain questions undertake importance and interest. These are: whether or not the students should take part in the politics or student politics should keep separate from, opposed to, or ahead of, mainstream politics. The student politics can be assessed within this range by reference to goals and methods in the categories: Ideological; Regime; Programmatic/Party; Interest; and Issue. Such an analysis of student politics in Sikkim is carried out in this study.
Reviews of the Literature
Philip Altbach (1967) in his article, Student Politics, particularly describes the student movement in American society. He argued that the higher education in American society has been characterized by a combination of wishful thinking and un- realistic expectations. The role of the students mainly manifested in stimulating discussion of important educational issues, and in the civil rights movement. He further tries to analyze the more realistic thinking concerning the feasible role of students in various movements for social change in the developing nations.
Phillip G. Altbach (1971) in the article, Student Politics and Higher Education in India, argued that for over a century, student unrest has been one of India’s most serious educational and political problems. Student agitation has caused state governments to fall and has forced the central government to revise its language policies. While there has been much discussion of the problem of student unrest and activism in India has been much discussion of the problem of student unrest
Ian Weinberg and Kenneh N. Walker (1969) in their article, Student Politics and Political Systems: Toward a Typology argued that the forms in which institutionalized student politics appear in different nations are closely linked to the attributes of the political and educational systems of each nation. The basic factors for the involvement of students in the politics are government control over university structure and financing, and recruitment to political careers through party sponsor- ship of university student aspirants.
Lloyd I. Rudolph, Susanne Hoeber Rudolph and Karuna Ahmed (1971) in their article, Student Politics and National Politics in India mention that the emergence of youth as a new political class is a consequence of the creation and prolongation of youth as a distinctive life-stage with its attendant cultures and social arrangement. The rise of the student politics in India has its base in the European and American student politics particularly during comparable periods of their democratization and industrializationand activism in India, there has been little analysis of the underlying problems students face in a society strained by severe academic and educational crisis.
Scope of the study
The proposed research work will try to highlight the electoral politics of Students Organization, Voting behavior and the influence of students Association in Sikkim University (2016-2017).
This study shall have the following objective:
To analyze the electoral politics of Student Organization.
To analyze the voting behavior of students during SUSA election.
To analyze the role of Student Association in Sikkim University.
This study shall have the following Research Questions:
What are the major dimensions of electoral politics in student organization?
What influences the voting behavior of students during SUSA election?
What is role of the Student Association in Sikkim University?
This study shall contain both the qualitative and quantitative method. Articles, Books, Journal shall be used as secondary sources to have a basic understanding of student politics. Interviews among students shall be conducted to understand the views on the topic.
Techniques: Questionnaire, Schedule, Face to face Interview
Research Design: Exploratory, Descriptive
Sample Size: 50
Sample Technique: Simple Random Sampling
This work will be divided into following four chapters dealing with various aspects of the research works.
This introductory chapter will deal with the research outline that is statement of problem,
Objectives, research question and methodology.
Student politics in Sikkim: overview
This chapter will cover the role of politics and its influence on the students of Sikkim.
SUSA Election and Voting behavior
This chapter will look forward into the voting behavior of students in Sikkim University and role, of student association in Sikkim University.
This chapter will be devoted to the major findings, conclusion and recommendation