Wednesday 23 September 2015

Politics and Culture in Delhi University


The prime question of a student and the way in which his/her student life is to be destined is determined solely by his/her adherence to a form of culture. When a student leaves behind his home and school, he leaves behind a huge chunk of his/her culture (which is also true for students living in Delhi though they do not leave their homes completely) and the student’s most important need becomes culture. The student might have a prejudice on the question of culture and might have his/her own ideas about culture but seldom is it realized in true material reality when the student becomes a part of the university. Why is it so? This is precisely because the university campuses in general and the University of Delhi in particular have no culture. The phenomenon that gives rise to a collective culture in Delhi University has not yet been formulated. There are many reasons as to why there is cause for the phenomenon of culture in Delhi University which we would deal with later.
First, we must concern ourselves with the epithets of culture (and one can only call them epithets of culture in that they are stereotypical) which is imagined to be the case not just by the students but by the enterprises that concern the students as well. There is a relation between “student culture” and “youth culture” which I have no qualms with but it is often seen that in most cases one is forced upon the other, i.e. the student culture is forced upon the youth culture and vice versa and the source of these forces are the very enterprises that concern themselves with students. What enterprise am I talking of? Any and every body, group or conglomerate that does the job of inducing capitalism into the student masses. These “enterprises” (which are increasing drastically in number) enforce the larger “youth culture” upon the more precise and different  student culture” which can be seen and should be seen as detrimental to the space of the university, and the University of Delhi has become the fertile ground for this eutrophication  of weeds which is killing the more independent “student culture”! ‘Why do they do so’, one might ask, and the obvious answer to that is the general motive with which every capitalist enterprise works- profit. And as to the question of ‘why the case of Delhi University in particular’, the answer is that unlike JNU or Jamia which are closed campuses, the colleges of Delhi University are scattered around the city and make easy targets as the students are mostly undergraduates who aspire more fun and materialistic satisfaction than the contentment of their basic plight and issues. But as I have already mentioned, since there is no inherent culture in DU, these packets of commodity culture easily find its way into the main nerve of DU students like an injection of heroine. It is not mere coincidence and is very surprising indeed that the residing areas in the vicinity of DU colleges have an exorbitantly high rent such as Patel Chest, Vijay Nagar, Mukherjee Nagar and in South Delhi, Satya Niketan, Munirka and at the same time scores of high-priced and “modern cafes” open up, as is seen on the lane opposite to Sri Venkateswara College. This vicious treatment of students as cash cows is not “modern”, but feudal, backward and absolutely abhorrent in its economic oppression. And what’s more, not only do the philistine students (a minority that projects itself as a majority) is silent on these issues to a mum, they even enjoy the bourgeois illusion without the slightest hint of disillusionment. This perverse copulation of ‘student culture” and “youth culture” is a lethal poison to the intellect of student life which has been visibly on the decline. However, this intellectual degradation does not show and on the other hand, a rise of standards and civilized outlook is seen as a result of this in “youth culture”. The youth culture is a characteristic and an outlook of people of ages from seventeen to twenty seven which also brackets the average age of students but is not limited to it. Besides students, it also includes uneducated people of that age, educated and employed people of the aforementioned age bracket as well as drop-out students. As the population strives for educated members in society, there is also a quest nowadays for “capitalist composure” or so called “professionalism” (here we leave aside the much larger debate about social culture which includes religion, domicile, etc. as a factor). The proletariat characters are shifted to the realm of the counter-culture (for example, the kurta, jhola outlook which is also well exploited by enterprises like Fab-India owing to its attraction among the elite pseudo-socialist bourgeois liberals and winnable revolutionaries). Thus the youth, that is not the student, aspires more and more to be a part of the student culture to pass himself or herself as a member of a higher class, i.e. the intelligentsia. Therefore the question of outward appearances should be completely disregarded in the “student culture” as giving it a place will mean giving the monster of capitalism a place and I have already hinted to the fact as to how it is detrimental to the idea of “student culture”.

One might think that the subject we are dealing with here, that of fashion, is more or less trivial to the idea of culture nothing can be far from the truth than this assertion. Fashion is the source of all the glamour that “plagues” Delhi University. Yes, I use the word plague in its negative sense of the term precisely because it hinders the creation of a more basic student culture due to its superficial nature. If one wants o be fashionable, one can very well join a modeling academy and relieve himself or herself off the burden of being a student, because being a student requires following a certain code which is in the best interests of the student collective. This argument that I have just made might seem a tad bit orthodox (and some would even say fundamentalist) and due to this very supposed accusation on the issue that we need a student culture that rises from the basic needs of the student which remains unanswered. As a result of this, and as a result of the added capitalist exploitation especially targeted upon the students, it becomes a need for the student masses to banish fashion from the campus because an average student is too riddled with basic issues of sustenance to be worried about how to dress for college. And only those people will have a problem with this after my explanation who are either materialistic, superficial students made idiots by the bourgeoisie propaganda of addictive commodity fetishism or pseudo-intellectual liberals and hippie morons who talk of abstract freedom without realizing the ground reality and the oppression that it holds within. Both these groups represent a useless minority who do not suffer the pangs of financial oppression in student life. Although they are a minority, they are the most visible section of the student crow solely because they are a part of the much larger youth culture (which is also a fallacy and a giant solely created by media and advertising) and have derailed from and defamed the tenets of student culture. 

As a result, they eclipse what is supposed to be concrete student culture.
What should be the ideal case for every individual student is for him or her to be distanced from his individuality to be a part of a larger progressive (in proletarian terms) collective of students from the ground up and not by any external force because any external force, no matter how progressive or liberal, will be a capitalist force and hence exploitative and profit-oriented in nature. Egalitarianism (or even socialism) in the framework of capitalism is a mere illusion and a dream from which the student majority has to wake up. Equality under capitalism is a farce and students strive to be equals to their fellow students. Students are therefore the strongest collective after the collective of workers as they are united both in their workplace (that is, the universities) as well as in their ideology (that is the circumstances which gives rise to their consciousness). There is neither room nor time for a reformative action because every power system, be it the market forces which the students will face once they graduate from the university, or the administrative (bureaucratic) forces that reside in the university are antagonistic to the interests of the students. In simple words, everyone is against us and the only ones we can trust are fellow students.  But herein too, lies a problem that some students or student groups valorize administrative power as opposed to student power (the power of the student masses in the university) and use the administrative framework under the guise of a student group. We will deal with such student groups and the negative impact of such student groups when we deal with the political nature of Delhi University.

First we must aid the argument of the detrimental effect of the lack of culture (i.e. student culture) on the students through a psychological critique of a student in Delhi University. Primarily, a student studying in Delhi University is a “DU student” only before the ignorant public unaware of the structure of DU. In reality, a student studying in DU is a Ramjas student, or a Hnasraj student, and an RLA student, or a Venky student and is seen and characterized accordingly. Each college imposes a signifier (or simply a psychological symptom) on a student which is in no way cultural in nature. And because the signifier of the college is imposed on the student with no underlying culture (or a complete base which results in the manifestation of the psychological symptom), the signifier gradually loses its meaning on the student (and not for the student). What this essentially means is that the student becomes a part of a psychological process over which he or she has no control. Those familiar with epileptic seizure might understand what I am trying to get at, which is that a student has no control over the time he/she spends in college. He or she is unconscious (for the most part) only of the time when he/she is idle, or with friends an at that time what prevails among them is not a form of student culture but a brooding mundane discharge of non-intellectual blabbering (i.e. useless discussions and gossips inconsistent with the larger student collective). It does not mean that the average DU student is a fool but that he/she is rendered unconscious about the surroundings due to a lack of culture. You cannot call them fools in the same way that you cannot call epileptics insane.
The students of Delhi University are becoming nihilists, and not just nihilists in the classic philosophical meaning of the word. They are becoming technocratic nihilists. It means that their activity is in an outer dimension and does not materialize to form a complete psychological process. An example to ferment my argument is that the students of DU enjoy the most invigorating college festivals, and their parties sometimes overwhelm the workaholic IITians. Also, DU students can be seen in most of the clubs in Hauz Khas and yet the mood of any DU college is like a Gothic novel; bland and dismal, and without any color or hope. What this teaches us resonates throughout my essay, and is the central line of my argument; that the University of Delhi has no unified student culture.


The Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung wrote in his essay “The Culture of New Democracy” that ‘a given culture is the ideological reflection of the politics and economics of a given society. This statement also holds absolutely true when applied to the student society. The student culture in Delhi University is meaningless (non-existent) because the political and economic situation of the students in the university framework is absurd. Politics is the focal point of any form of culture in a society because politics decides how to address the needs and characters of a society. Politics involves within it an entire shed of tools ranging from popular opinion, nature of collective consciousness, the extent of reactionary force, the power of administration to even matters such as censorship. DU witnessed the use of the lattermost tool of censorship when the ABVP-led Delhi University Students’ Union banned a play by the Hindi dramatics society of Khalsa College because of its content. What we see in this sort of an execution of power is a regression and a lack of political aim. Let us, for one moment, move to JNU and examine its culture of putting up posters, politicized wall-painting (on the walls of the Central Library of JNU), of the night of presidential debate during the students’ union elections that factors into JNU’s “campus democracy
The “Ganga dhaba” of JNU is lively with conversations that pertain to political issues, social issues, historical and literary discussions and is always the centre of polemics. The bookshops of JNU offer a variety of texts by eminent scholars, rare writers and authors, magazines of all kinds and novels in Hindi, English as well as regional languages (of that there are a few though). Compare this with Delhi University where even the main campus (North Campus) does not have a proper bookstore (let alone a good bookstore such as the ones in JNU). Why is this so? It is not that North Campus has such a shortage of space that it cannot put up a book kiosk. The problem is the students who will be unwilling to buy the books (under the present cultural conditions) or simply will not be able to afford it (under the present economic condition of the students). But even if DU overlooks the above mentioned conditions to compete with JNU, there is an added political dimension due to which DU would not want to do so.

The mechanism that I mentioned at the start that creates the culture is not politics per se. Politics is a means of generating the mechanism that creates culture. The mechanism that creates culture and is generated through politics is consciousness. The axioms that can be derived from this premise regarding student culture are the following:
1)      A conscious student is a cultured student and vice-versa.
2)      A political conscious student is a cultured student
3)      An unconscious student is an uncultured student
4)      An un-political is an unconscious student and therefore he/she is an uncultured student.
5)      A political student is a conscious student and therefore a cultured student.

This is the most basic point of my argument about politics and culture in Delhi University. Moving on to more advanced points, politics is a necessary discipline to raise the consciousness of the students and give rise to a student culture. But how is its worth to be determined?
Here I would like to expand n the point of student groups and the negative impact of student groups that use the administrative framework under the guise of student groups. These groups rely on students as unconscious masses and they seek to make them political without the necessary step of raising consciousness. According to my derived based on a proper and objective premise, we can conclude that the political activity of these kinds of student groups are responsible of propagating  the popular discontent among the students who then hide behind fashion, parties and technocratic nihilism student politics aims to rid the students of. Who are these political parties that work against the interests of the students? These parties are always the parties in power, holding one or more seats every year such as the National Students’ Union of India and the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad and other parties along their line. Of all these parties, ABVP, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, an autonomous registered party working along the lines of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) boasts of having an ideology. An ideology is necessary for the cultural development of consciousness so there might be confusion as to why ABVP is included in the list of students’ group that harms the student. However much the ABVP talks of its Hindutva and Akhand Bharat ideology, it has no impact whatsoever on the issue of student culture precisely due to the reason that the students have seen their unprecedented reign in DUSU wherein nothing of significance has changed. As a result, they failed to play the part of integrating ideology to practical affairs of the university to bring about a systemic change. A systemic change can only be brought by a revolutionary force which is communist in its ideology. A communist ideology entails the surrender of power to the people (working class) who are the revolutionary masses realizing the correct nature of their consciousness by meeting the counts of oppression that has been dealt upon them. Parties such as the Students’ Federation of India, the All India Students’ Federation and the more popular All India Students’ Association will serve as the organized focus and constitute the necessary politics and ideology which will help to develop a student culture (as is the case in JNU by the effort of AISA-led students’ union there). ABVP practices a system of rigorous administrational procedure in its working, participates in delinquency and violence (which since they are in union is akin to state-sponsored violence) and follows the advice of political leaders of the BJP. Their organization is bourgeois and so their ideology is fascist in nature, much like the National Socialist Party of Germany, better known as the Nazi party. Therefore, with ABVP in power, we see a neo-imperialist and feudal culture in Delhi University. For this to end, we need a siege from the collective majority of students who will use the means of popular violence (As was the case with the Commune of Paris) to quell their state-sponsored violence and ensure the dictatorship of the proletariat. In terms of the university space, this means that the students become the proletariat (working-class) not by the virtue of their actual class conditions (their family background, their economic class) but by the virtue of the socio-economic oppressions they face, such as fee-hikes, high rent of accommodation, insufficient food etc., uninformed changes in the education system (such as the introduction of the FYUP, CBCS and the passing of the Central University Bill). The common students need to seize power over the university by any means necessary, either by electing a pro-student body like AISA, or by the violent overthrow of anti-student bodies like NSUI, CYSS and ABVP.

The seizure of power will only be complete once a single pro-student body, a proletariat vanguard of the students takes complete control of the university and is at its epoch. A democratic process such as the elections is a bourgeois technique by way of which the bourgeois pro-administration student bodies take control and wreak havoc upon the student majority by massive fund frauds, small-scale riots, racial altercations and most of all preventing the genesis of a proper student culture. The current political scenario in DU needs radical reforms such as a centralized vanguard party which is ideological in nature and through which the members of the students’ union are elected. This will ensure a pro-student and working-class ideology practiced from the top down. Such a centralized system is required because the student community in general and the student crowd of DU in particular is facing an assault on all fronts in the form of rent-mafias, big franchise restaurants, by the propagators of “youth culture” guised as student culture, by the dictatorial force of the university administration, and lastly by the corrupt Indian State (the government) which has lost all regards for its citizens. In such a case, we need a fortified vanguard from where we can defend ourselves as students and rid the university of all oppressive forces that seek with a blindfold our political consciousness. A single pro-student group will ensure the entry of ideologically correct conscious students as its representatives who will not only be the guardians of student rights but will also ensure the organic development of a student culture in Delhi University which has for long been in dire need of change in the university. Only by ensuring such a political and cultural change can we ensure the legitimization of the claim that the university officials make about DU being the best university in India. Only when the students can raise themselves to become wholly conscious (both socio-politically and culturally) that there will be a uniformity in the prestige of colleges in the true sense (and not in the perverted sense that the Central University Bill promises) and the students themselves will make the University of Delhi a premiere institution not just in India but all over the world.

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