Redefining Student Politics
From discussing Marx and student politics to obsessing over Coke Studio and old photographs, Panjab University’s first ever woman President Kanupriya has charted her course of action.
The conversation starts with music. She says she just cannot get over film Rockstar’s instrumental track The Dichotomy of
Fame. The irony is not lost. While almost every second person stops to congratulate her for emerging as the first woman president of the Panjab University Students Council, Chandigarh, Kanupriya, a MSc Zoology (II year) student, says, “Yes, it is a bit overwhelming, but I get energy spikes from just being around people." The 22-year-old defeated five male rivals fielded by parties including the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), the Students Organisation of India (SOI), the Punjab Students Union (Lalkaar) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI).
Representing the left-leaning Students for Students (SFS), the young lady, whose father is a businessman, and mother a nurse, hails from Tarn Taran, a small town in Punjab. “It feels really good when the place which features in drug abuse headlines everyday gets a new subject and welcomes it as a ray of hope.”
Kanupriya, who uses only her first name, remembers that it was in 2015 that she became politically inclined —when more than 400 women joined a rally by SFS to protest against eve teasing and sexual harassment on campus. “I saw a group of students working on ground issues, keeping their individual interests aside. My interest kept growing as I regularly participated in different seminars, discussions and protests,” she says.
Admitting that she did have her share of doubts about male students ‘accepting’ a woman as their president, the student leader adds, “I must say that times are surely changing. As much as women are empowering themselves, men are more conscious than ever. Both men and women have been coming to me with their problems and suggestions.”
For her, the top priority right now is changing the discourse of student politics. “Frankly, we have always worked towards introducing revolutionary political solutions to every problem from the smallest ones to important ones like anti-fee hike and gender equality struggles on the campus,” she says.
But yes, she does miss speaking frequently to her parents. “I think they also get to know through newspapers and channels that I am doing fine. Ever since my name was announced, I have not had time to even go and buy another SIM card.”
For someone who looks up to freedom fighter Bhagat Singh for the values he stood for, Kanupriya does not really shy away from making her political stand very clear. She sees herself as an active part of resistance politics/ people’s politics, in the years ahead, Kanupriya adds, “Surely I will pursue politics after my studies. However, I have no intentions of participating in electoral politics.”
Ask her about her stress busters and she is quick to reply. “I share a safe space with my close friends and their hugs solve pretty much everything for me.”