The elections witnessed a female candidate and a post-graduate candidate – Surbhi Narain of the Sarojini Naidu Hall won the elections for GSec Soc-Cult, while Indranil Hatai, a Ph.D. student has been elected as the GSec Sports & Games. While we’ve had a post-grad contest the elections as recently as last year, 1999 was the last time a female candidate contested and won – Smitha Uthaman, Soc-Cult. The fact that two major sections of KGP – the women and the post-graduates – have gone unrepresented or under-represented for such a long time raises questions on our whole electoral system. When asked about the reason for this perceived prejudice or lack of interest, Surbhi says “I think this [the elections] is a case of more male candidates rather than no female candidates. It’s bound to happen with the campus sex-ratio”. But that’s only part of the answer. The power-brokers, the seniors of the hall, play an important role in the election dynamics. “Our seniors from previous years didn’t dare field a candidate from SN. They didn’t think she would even have a shot. Their arguments are not entirely false, considering the number of chauvinists on campus. Surbhi’s SOP is an example of the same”, says a third-year student from SN. She adds, “After Surbhi’s resounding victory, things are definitely going to change.” When questioned on the alleged chauvinism, Surbhi says she did come across students who questioned her candidature only on the basis of her gender, and if she could handle such a huge responsibility. She finds the perceived chauvinism ironical though, considering India has a female president and West Bengal, a female Chief Minister. Does she think the ‘prejudice’ will die any time soon? She firmly believes so. A lot depends on how she performs in her tenure.
The representation of post-graduates in campus administration is an oft-debated topic. For a group that comprises almost 40% of the campus population, they have a very low presence in positions of power. And it’s not by choice, apparently. There is a visible disconnect between the under-graduates and post-graduates on campus – the GC and campus events are proof of that. There have been improvements lately, especially in sports, but there is still much left to be desired. According to Indranil, the lack of participation from the post-graduate students in the elections stems from the fact that most of the time they don’t have ‘proper information’, and are deeply involved with their academics. He doesn’t rule out a lack of interest too. So what made him contest the elections? “I’ve lived in KGP for six years, and I believe that I can put to use my experience and understanding of KGP for the betterment of the students”, says Indranil. But there has always been skepticism surrounding post-graduate post holders. They are often said to have very less knowledge of campus happenings and funda. The fact that Indranil met only a handful of Inter-IIT players before his SOP was a point that was raised constantly – his detractors claim that if he hasn’t met any players or captains, on what basis has he formed his proposals? Despite his victory in the elections, there are several who question his ability to carry out his responsibilities.
Yes, we have a female and a post-graduate student elected to the Gymkhana. But does that mean KGP is moving away from the alleged chauvinism and sectarianism? The vote count is too close to form an opinion, as both Surbhi and Indranil belonged to the winning LLR-SN-Nehru-RK pact. Will we see more participation from the post-graduates now that they have an elected representative in office, or will the dormancy continue? This election surely has raised some interesting issues on KGP dynamics. Whether this is a random happening or a sign of the change to come, only Elections 2013 can tell.