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.

India Today - - FEATURE - By Sukant Deepak

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.”

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