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Is NEHUSU a democratic entity?

Editor,

I’ve studied (been) in the North Eastern Hill University NEHU) and seen lots of things that have provoked me to think whether whatever is going on in the University, especially when it comes to empowering the students justifies its existence in this present time. Talking about the NEHUSU (North Eastern Hill University Students’ Union) and the mode of election must be questioned here. Why does NEHUSU exist in the first place? It is there to represent the students of the University; to be the voice of the students, etc. In short, NEHUSU shoul represent the welfare of all students in NEHU. So if NEHUSU is for the welfare of all students then why has it become a communal Union? Since the University is open for each and every person who wants to study here it also means that every student has equal rights and opportunities, be they locals or non-locals.

But in every election of NEHUSU I could sense bias because I do not see the opportunity of equal representation. If we check the records of the past five years of the NEHUSU (Shillong Campus) elections, the candidates are all locals and by local I mean only the Khasis and the Jaintias, whereas NEHU has students from all the North Eastern states, from other parts of India and even from outside India.

We speak of diversities in our nation so why can’t we see the same in the NEHUSU election? Why are the non-locals discouraged from contesting these elections? There have been instances when non- locals wanted to contest but they were beaten up and threatened and told to withdraw their names from the election, especially by the KSU, NEHU. Some might argue that the non-locals are new to the University and don’t know much about it and that is why they should not contest elections. But in departments like Law, B. tech., Architecture, etc. the students study for eight to ten semesters which is more than enough to understand about students welfare and that of the University as a whole. If the local students in their 1st semester can contest the election then why can’t the non-local students from the 3rd, 5th or 9th semester contest in these elections as well?  Why is equal opportunity not given to them?

When the whole country is striving for equality; when equal representation is the sine qua non of democracy, then that should reflect in the composition of the NEHUSU too, being under NEHU – a centrally funded educational institution. Also when it comes to women’s representation there is a reservation of 50 %, seats in urban and rural local bodies in grassroots governance, decision making bodies so when it comes to educational institutions at least 40% seats should be reserved for women to enable them to be part of the decision making process. This is gender justice and if this is not practiced in a University then why speak about other institutions?

In my opinion the Constitution of NEHUSU should be changed and 50% seats should be given to the non-locals as well to make it truly representative. The NEHU authorities must take necessary action to implement this  criteria for the better future and uplift of the University and also to ensure that NEHU maintains its balance, does not have a communal bias and that it gives a fair chance to each and every student.

As of today the NEHUSU election has become such a kind of Autocracy where one can easily win the elections if he/she has a good links with the current NEHUSU members. Another trend is that one should be on good terms with the KSU to win the NEHUSU elections. As a matter of fact, in this year’s NEHUSU election only one party contested; there was no opponent. What we can assume here is that the NEHUSU election has become autocratic and their wrongdoings of past NEHUSU members are so obvious that no one wants to contest this election, except the few who are popular amongst the old NEHUSU members. This scenario is also not very different from the NEHUSU (Tura Campus) where only Garos are being elected.

It is time to remind everyone once again that NEHU is a central university funded by the central government, hence, each and every student must get an equal opportunity to contest in the NEHUSU election. If at the level of a University such ethnocentricity and communalism exists and non-locals are discriminated then can we imagine a future when one of these NEHUSU members will actually be in power and hold public office? At that level they would they not be more biased and communal? Or what if any of these NEHUSU members become teachers in schools, colleges and universities? Will they not be communicating this same communalism?

Yours etc.,

  1. Syiemlieh

Shillong- 19

Arbitrary toll collection at Umling   

Editor,

Identity cards of government officials with grades are being issued so that they can identify themselves at strategic places, otherwise they become useless objects if they are not respected by those who check them. It was very strange to note that the toll-gate collectors at Umling along the NH 40, during the morning shift at 6:45 AM on November 12, 2018 ruthlessly rejected my bio-metric identity card issued by our PWD authorities, while they accepted the same respectfully during other times in the past. Would that be because of the oddness of the new rules or is it because the non-local collectors at the gate are untrained, disrespectful and rude with the PWD officials? That created in me a feeling of unease because the toll is high and also because I use the road frequently.  If IDs belonging to government officials of all categories are not considered legitimate at the toll-gate then that should be made public so that we are aware of the rules. But strangely, the toll-collectors in the said toll-gate accepted other identity cards belonging to other government departments and honoured even those belonging to petty officials.  It is high time the NHAI toll-gate operators of our state take serious note of displaying a sign-board stating what category of government officers are exempted from paying toll at such check gates.

Yours etc.,

P E Hynniewta,

Shillong – 2

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