Published: 16th September 2019
The Aishe Ghosh Interview: Ever since the BJP came to power, they have attacked education in JNU
Aishe was elected the President of the JNU Student Union this year and the whole process had its own share of drama. Will she get to lead from the front?
Aishe Ghosh hails from the industrial city of Durgapur. When you grow up in an industrial city, especially one that exists on a thriving communist land, it is only normal that trade unions and strikes are an everyday ritual. So for the young girl who grew up in this land, politics, concepts such as equal rights and workers' rights were introduced along with the letters of the alphabet.
Aishe was elected the President of the JNU Student Union this year and the whole process had its own share of drama of course. The Delhi High Court intervened and forbid the Election Committee from announcing the winners till September 17. When we did this interview with Aishe, the results were still on hold but numbers show that the SFI leader got the highest number of votes in the elections. Now everyone is waiting to see what the verdict will be. But Aishe is already on the streets, fighting, protesting — no, not for her post. But for democracy itself. In the midst of all the confusion, sloganeering, EC's violation notices, student-admin craziness, the MPhil student from the School of International Studies, sat down for a few minutes to tell us what her dreams for JNU were, assuming she would be allowed to implement them.
What have the last few days been like — pre and post-win? And how does it feel to not be officially declared the President, even one week after?
The fear now isn't whether or not I become the President or whether the rest of the panel gets their posts or that they will have re-election. We are now worried that the administration will dissolve the JNUSU entirely. The Union is not just a seat of power but also a seat of struggle. We have not come here easily but now we fear they might want to do away with the Student Union entirely. Coming to how I've been feeling, well we knew we had the support from the beginning and the like we hoped the students voted for us.
But what is unfair is that the election committee is coming under attack and the GRC is not supposed to be interfering in the elections. By hook or crook, they want to nullify the EC and they are using hooliganism to disrupt the process.
How did you decide to stand for the President's post?
I was a two-time convenor in the School of International Studies and I was already involved with the political happenings in the campus. The decision itself was only taken a few weeks before the nominations.
How important was it for the Left to win these elections after the BJP's resounding victory in the general elections? Especially because the Left student groups were so aggressively campaigning against them last year?
It was very important. Ever since the BJP came to power, there has been an attack on education in JNU. The administration has been making policy decisions according to their own whims and fancies. So it was important for us to win these elections, especially because I'm also a woman, a research scholar and the rest of the elected panel also represent marginalised students on campus. As research scholars, we all know and represent all the things that are going wrong with our academics and campus. It is important for the left to get a hold in all other campuses in the country too.
Have you been associated with the SFI for very long?
I have always been political and my parents were also quite political. I grew up watching CITU protests and the like so when I joined Delhi University for my under graduation in Political Science, I was introduced to the SFI but there because of the ABVP and NSUI hooliganism and muscle power we did not get a chance to participate in student politics. But we held independent elections and I won there. However, it was only when I came to JNU and saw how left-wing politics was thriving, I decided to join the SFI and get involved in student politics.
What do you think will happen, do you have any inkling?
No, we can't anticipate anything. But we are focused on saving democracy on campus.
Even though the ABVP has not won the election, they did still get better numbers and came quite close for some posts. Does this scare the predominantly and historically left-wing campus?
Well, the ABVP has the support of the administration so it's not a surprise that they got so many votes. Even the attack of the professor emeritus is an example of how BJP has a hand in these matters in JNU and the students know how things have been around here, these past few years. Whether is with the paper publication of lab experiments, every aspect of the activities on campus has been negatively affected because of the present administration.
So what are the first things on your agenda for the new academic year?
To ensure that the Union isn't dissolved we continue our resistance against hostel shortage, seat cuts, fee hikes and library fund cut. Reinstating GSCASH. These are the issues at hand currently, so we will be dealing with these first.
Some of the issues you have mentioned have existed in the last few years too. How do you think you would do things differently?
What the administration is doing right now is to divide the students with their notices, fines and circulars. What we have to strive to do now is to become united and concentrate on specific student issues. We cannot let what is happening outside, impact the students. We have to continue to resisting together and that's how we will be able to fight the problems that plague the campus.
Do you think you will engage with the VC more?
Since I was the convenor for two years I did get to meet the VC a couple of times. We tried to push for a lot of things. we tried to do our absolute best but the VC was never welcoming of our efforts. But we had a nice dean at the school who cooperated with us and helped us fulfill our minimum demands. We will try to engage more but he barely ever listens to us.
Are your parents worried at all about you taking up the President's post or are they just happy?
My family is quite political so yes, they are happy. However, it is normal to worry, they wonder how I will be able to manage everything. But I have their full support.
Is politics something that you are interested in even after you leave JNU's portals?
Well, that is the plan. I hope to get into politics someday but right now, I have to finish my MPhil and then do my PhD so the current plan is to be as involved in student politics as one can be