Is campus politics allowed in IITs in India?

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Author: Hakimuddin Kuwakhedawala      Post Date: 26 May 2023        


Campus politics, the active participation of students in political activities within educational institutions, has been a topic of debate in India for decades. Amongst the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) has not remained untouched by this phenomenon. This article explores the question of whether campus politics is allowed in IITs in India and delves into the arguments surrounding its implications for the academic environment.

Understanding Campus Politics

Campus politics encompasses a wide range of activities, including student elections, student unions, protests, and ideological debates. It provides a platform for students to express their opinions, engage in activism, and advocate for various causes. While some argue that campus politics fosters democratic values and active citizenship among students, others contend that it leads to disruptions in academics and hampers the primary purpose of an educational institution.

The Standpoint of IITs

IITs, renowned for their emphasis on technical education and scientific research, have traditionally maintained a relatively apolitical stance. These institutions prioritize academic excellence and the holistic development of their students. Consequently, they have discouraged overt political activities that may hamper the academic atmosphere or cause unnecessary disruptions.

Regulations and Guidelines

While IITs do not outright ban campus politics, they have established regulations and guidelines to ensure a conducive learning environment. These rules aim to strike a balance between freedom of expression and the smooth functioning of academic activities. For instance, IITs may require student political groups to register with the administration, adhere to a code of conduct, and obtain permission for organizing events or protests on campus.
IITs primarily focus on providing a comprehensive education that equips students with technical skills, scientific knowledge, and critical thinking abilities. They emphasize co-curricular activities, such as specialised clubs, cultural organizations, and entrepreneurship cells, to encourage a well-rounded development while maintaining a distance from partisan politics.

Arguments in Favor of Campus Politics

Proponents of campus politics argue that it serves as a training ground for future leaders, activists, and policymakers. They believe that political awareness and participation are crucial for the holistic development of students. Engaging in political activities helps students understand the complexities of the social and political landscape, nurtures critical thinking skills, and fosters a sense of responsibility towards society.
Moreover, campus politics provides a platform for marginalized voices and enables students to raise awareness about important issues, such as gender equality, environmental sustainability, and social justice. It allows them to organize campaigns, debates, and protests to highlight these concerns and drive positive change within the campus and beyond.

Arguments Against Campus Politics

Detractors of campus politics argue that excessive political activities can disrupt the academic environment. They contend that prolonged conflicts, ideological divisions, and power struggles among student political groups can lead to a hostile atmosphere, negatively impacting the educational experience of other students. Frequent strikes, protests, and demonstrations may disrupt classes and impede the smooth functioning of academic activities.
Moreover, opponents assert that campus politics often gives rise to identity-based politics, fostering divisions along caste, religion, or regional lines. This may undermine the unity and diversity that IITs strive to promote, hindering the exchange of ideas and intellectual growth.

Striking a Balance

To strike a balance between allowing campus politics and preserving the academic environment, IITs need to manage political activities carefully. They should encourage healthy debate, intellectual discourse, and the peaceful expression of diverse viewpoints while discouraging actions that disrupt the educational ecosystem. By facilitating an inclusive environment that values dialogue and mutual respect, IITs can harness the positive aspects of campus politics while mitigating its potential drawbacks.

So, campus politics is not explicitly forbidden at IIT.
Author: Sheo Shankar Jha      Post Date: 26 May 2023        
While working in Bokaro Steel Plant as an executive, I came across many IITians with whom I have had free talks with them regarding their hostel experience and prevalence of politics inside their campus. Some of our colleagues had completed their studies from IIT Madras, IIT Delhi, IIT Kanpur to name a few and I was substantially benefited with their association to know how politics inside their campus influenced them. They were generally of the opinion that these institutions provide a platform for the students to come together to identify their problems and discuss ways to solve problems being faced by them. IIT campuses located at different locations have numerous issues such as administrative, academic, social and economic etc which cannot be solved with the guidelines and notifications issued by the authorities alone. They need to have full participation and co-operation of the students. Here the student politics help the institutions to identify and rectify the different issues amicably. It promotes a means for students to educate themselves about taking up assignments so that these could be accomplished successfully.
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