No woman to vie for Panjab University students union president

September 11th, 2008 - 12:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Sep 11 (IANS) Seventy percent of the students in Panjab University (PU) are women, but in the last three decades its students union has never had a woman president. Nor will it this year, as all candidates for the president’s post in the Friday poll are men.Women have contested and have been elected for the posts of vice-president and secretary, but not for the top post.

The failure of the four major groups contesting the polls this year - Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Indian National Student Organisation (INSO) - to put up a woman candidate for the president’s post this year as well has drawn flak.

“It is not that girls here in PU lack leadership qualities. It is just that there is little interest in politics,” Nishtha Jaswal, Dean Students’ Welfare, PU (Women) told IANS.

“Girls of PU have won many laurels for the university. Therefore, we cannot doubt their potential and we just need to wait and watch. I believe that very soon, we will have a woman president,” she added.

“Generally, women have a pre-conceived notion that politics is a dirty game and not meant for sensible people. Even in our Lok Sabha elections, we have very few female candidates,” said Vikas Rathi, president of INSO’s state unit.

“However, many women in our party want to contest for the president’s post and to lead from the front. We are seriously thinking of promoting them and maybe in the next two to three years you will see some woman candidate from INSO contesting for the top position,” he added.

“We cannot say that women here do not want to contest the elections. They refrain from it just because of peer and parental pressure. There is no dearth of enthusiasm in them as during campaigning they have clearly outnumbered their male counterparts,” Harmanjit Singh Deol, former student leader of PU, told IANS.

“We should take inspiration from Shika Chauhan who is perhaps the first woman to be elected the president of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) students union last month. At PU also, inhibitions are fading and many women are coming forward,” said Prerna Mittal, a student who is also an activist.

Panjab University is one of the oldest universities in India. It was established in 1882 in Lahore. In 1956, PU was relocated at Chandigarh.

Around 9,000 students study at the PU campus in spread over 550 acres here. The university has around 60 teaching and research departments and over 170 colleges are affiliated to it.

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