Students’ Voices Amplified: SFI Delhi Launches Poster and Action Plan for Student Manifesto

When students go to the polling booth, it’s vital they consider their future before casting their votes. Empowering the youth to shape political representation is essential.
Students’ Voices Amplified: SFI Delhi Launches Poster and Action Plan for Student Manifesto
Ayanabha Banerjee/The Mooknayak

New Delhi: According to the World Population Prospects, 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25. Yet, the demands of students are seldom conveyed through the election manifestos of political parties.

As the world’s largest democracy gears for its biggest election, the Delhi chapter of the Student’s Federation of India (SFI) has taken the initiative of bringing in a ‘Student’s Manifesto’, the draft of which is scheduled to be released by March 7.

The SFI Delhi will march with the manifesto to the offices of different political parties. For now, they have decided to walk to the office of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on March 7 and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on March 19.

Through a press conference that took place at 36 Canning Lane, Mandi House, the student activists released the posters and the action plan for the manifesto.

The manifesto has a list of demands, which include concessional metro passes for students since they have to travel long distances to attend their college classes, stopping constant hike in course fees, regularisation of salaries of teaching and non teaching staff, among others.

“Bus passes are not enough because it generally takes a longer route, and many students understand and know metro routes better and feel safer than the buses,” Mayank Azad, the state coordinator of SFI Delhi, told The Mooknayak.

One important demand is to take back the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) and the National Education Policy (NEP). As per the manifesto, this is expected to result in increased dropout rates and challenges in successfully obtaining a degree, given numerous students already struggle with completing a basic degree.

Abha Dev Habib, the president of the Democratic Teachers Front and a physics professor at Miranda House, said, “A student who is going to the polling booth should think about their future and then decide on casting their vote. This is why it is important that the youth themselves get the right to decide what they want to see being represented in politics.”

“Students are being termed as customers and many policies are being shoved down their throats. So, the students themselves have to come out and say that they do not align with the policies.”

She laid stress on a few of the issues faced by the students. She said the NEP, which has reduced the quality of education but increased the fees, is not what the youth hoped for.

“Central universities should be talking about inclusion because students from all over the nation come to study here. But, thanks to the BJP, that is not the case,” she said.

According to her, there have been next to nil appointments in the Delhi University. Now, when the appointments are actually happening, one could easily see how teachers from the minority communities are facing the brunt. Many are being removed after having served the institution for decades. 

She further said people are taking to social media to comment on the authorities “selling” seats, which is something the university should be embarrassed about.

Umar Farooq, a student at the Rajdhani College of the Delhi University, said, “There has been a trend where politicians ignore the calls made by the students. If we come out during the election time, maybe they will listen to us.”

“Even after being from the Delhi University, I have been unable to take accommodation in a hostel because there are not enough rooms for all of us. The PGs (paying guests) charge an exorbitant sum, which would mean a student having to spend almost Rs 20,000 every month.”

He said not everyone can afford the amount. There has been an increasing hike in fees, and it is leading to inaccessibility towards such institutions.

Aditi, a master’s student from the Delhi University, talked about the obstacles that are faced by a female student. “Talking about the gender dynamics in a conservative nation like ours,” she said, “How in a household, the academics of a male child is generally taken more seriously than of a female child. Money is saved for a daughter’s marriage rather than her studies”.

Less expensive central universities provide relief to female students. But with the constant rise in fee structure, that is also being difficult for them.

She further talked about the lack of safety in girls’ colleges, with recent cases of abuse taking place in many colleges such as Miranda House and Gargi. “Whenever the fest season comes, we get to observe boys climbing over the walls to get inside our campus to harass us in a space that is otherwise supposed to feel safe,” she said.

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