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The only difference between politics in a college campus and politics in the outside world is that the college politics is much more interesting and maybe a bit more subtle. However, those students that are actually involved in college activities take it as seriously, as if the nation’s fate depended on it. But what gives them that passion? Is it love for the college? No, that’s not it. It’s a matter of standing by your principles.

Now, students of engineering, medical or any business course are not really into college activities either because they are felt to be unproductive, useless from a career point of view and rather time consuming. But it is in law colleges that we truly see students participating in social service or cultural groups. They generally don’t do it because they want something to be put on their C.V. They do it for the love of helping the helpless, for making a difference or (some of them) just for fun. The special characteristic of law students is that they all want justice (or at least their version of justice). Everybody in a law college wants to voice out their opinion. Law students understand the relation between being in a student body and personality development, which will not only be useful in their career but in almost every aspect of their lives. After all, most of our freedom fighters (Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal Nehru and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to name a few) are from the legal profession. The Indian National Congress contained 39 lawyers out of 72 members during its inception. When we look at these numbers doesn’t the correlation between leadership skills and law-life become more obvious?

The status of a law college is, among other things, defined by the amount of extracurricular activities and number of ‘official’ clubs and committees in the college. I fortunately study in a highly developed and culturally advanced college. But the only reason for this is because my college was established156 years ago making it one the oldest law colleges in Asia. Not that I am saying that the systems that are followed don’t need work but they are better than those followed in other law colleges I have seen. Allow me to explain how democracy, transparency and accountability play key roles in my college and how they can be improved:

The main reason why student politics is looked down upon by the institutions is the fear of students demanding transparency from the college.You all know about the Right to Information Act. If you study in a government institution like I do you have the right to file an application under the Act and seek college accounts and records (One among the very few advantages of being in a government college). My college had put up a list of selected candidates by means of an interview for admission in second year. Some of us students applied to obtain information regarding the basis on which the second year admission had been given. The relevant authority contacted us within 10 days. However, if you study in a non-government institution you can’t do anything officially. But this is where an unofficial student body plays a huge role.

In my first year of law school, I was in a non-government institution (Because I did not get the ‘required percentage’ in 12th). Some of my newly made friends and me, in the start of the academic year, went to the office and asked questions regarding some additional fees that the college was demanding. The office staff asked us why we came and on hearing the reason told us to wait out. We waited and after every 20 minutes went back in to check if they were ready to hear us. There was no crowd in the office that day and the staff was not doing any work of particular importance. At one o’clock they said the office timing for students are over and that we should come tomorrow. We did come tomorrow.... But with a group of 30 people who we shared our experience with. We spoke directly to the Principal and the fee was reduced. In addition, I made a very noble and trustworthy group of friends (and unfortunately a very powerful enemy- the Principal!)

A similar incident had taken place in the start of the next academic year, when some of us transfer students went to ask for a N.O.C. to change our college. After we all went individually and were refused, we went as a group. When the Principal still refused, we stood in front of her auto-rickshaw as she was leaving and demanded the N.O.C. We got it the very same day.

Though your college may not be gracious enough to reveal college expenditures and staff member’s salaries but they may just listen to complaints against some staff members for acting out of order and initiate investigations against them as has happened in my college few years ago. I do not wish to use the old ‘united we stand….’ But I can hardly imagine doing any of the above mentioned tasks alone.

So, I encourage all my fellow young leaders to take that first step of putting your hand forward and getting to know your college mates well. You could start a system which would improve with time and last for years making brilliant students which would in future result in brilliant citizens. Start today. Or do you want to wait 156 years?

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