JNU Is Not Outside India, Caste Bias Here Too: Prez Candidate Suna

The results for the JNU students’ union polls will be out by 8 September.

2 min read

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

Hailing from a village in Odisha's Kalahandi, 29-year-old Jitendra Suna has covered a long and arduous journey to be where he is at right now.

Pursuing his PhD at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, the Dalit student is this year's presidential candidate for the students' union polls at the varsity representing the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students' Association (BAPSA).

Having worked as a farm labourer and faced discrimination at an early age, Suna believes his organisation – of which he is also a founder member – represents a sort of 'unity of the oppressed'.

"BAPSA is a real struggle, one which represents the real voice here and one which fights for students' rights and their betterment. BAPSA is talking about 'oppressed unity'. So the students who come from oppressed sections – whether they are from Assam,'Gorkhaland', Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim or whether they are Muslims, Dalits, Advisasis and OBCs – we are talking about all of them," he told The Quint during a conversation ahead of the varsity polls.

'Education System Never Points Out What’s Happening is Wrong'

Going on to narrate his experiences of discrimination, Suna pointed out how the Indian education system has not been geared towards raising awareness on the issue.

“Children in Hindu households are taught from an early age how to behave with those belonging to different castes. When I used to be in the village, children used to shot casteist slurs behind my back. In a shop, they would return my change from a distance... My (caste) consciousness developed outside the education system. I studied about Ambedkar and Buddhism when I went to Nagpur. That’s when my consciousness got shaped and the sense of revolt and social revolution developed.”
Jitendra Suna, BAPSA presidential candidate

Even at JNU, which is often regarded as an institution where the principle of social inclusion is rigorously followed, Suna says that discrimination persists both in implicit and explicit forms.

This can, for instance, be seen during interviews, when people try to find out your surname to identify you and mark you accordingly, he points out. "If you see BAPSA's discourse, you'll see it doesn't glorify JNU. The reason for that is that JNU is not outside the country, it is very much a part of the country."

JNU is all set to vote on 6 September for the students’ union polls, with the results expected to be out by 8 September.

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