‘Difficult to adapt to life outside JNU’
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Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury on Sunday said that some concepts of democracy were in practice in Jawaharlal Nehru University "much before they became universal in India". He quoted incidents from his days in the university and clauses from the JNU Students' Union constitution, which he said, came into existence before they were made part of the parliamentary system. "The JNUSU has an inherent acceptance of democratic values," he said.
Yechury, who is the only person to be elected president of the JNUSU thrice, was speaking at the first seminar of former JNUSU presidents held at the varsity. The seminar was organised by the newly constituted alumni association of the JNU and administration, on the theme "Life Beyond JNUSU".
The JNUSU, when Yechury was at the helm, was instrumental in formulating changes in the university's admission policy to make it more inclusive as a "combination of merit and social status".
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat was one of the founding members of the Students' Federation of India. As the president of JNUSU, Karat wrote the JNUSU constitution, which is followed for elections at the university and is the model in the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations for conducting students' union elections in India.
Karat said, "When you leave the JNU, you face a reality where citizenship does not mean gender equality, caste discrimination, corruption and the power of capital in politics is prevalent. The JNU equips us to confront this reality."
Karat also spoke of "difficult times" for the union during the Emergency, when most of its leaders were arrested and incarcerated. "Our aim was to challenge set concepts and put forth alternatives," he said.
JNU faculty member Prof Anand Kumar spoke about the idea of simplicity that life at the university instils and said "purposefulness is a gift beyond JNUSU".
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