Every year, major engineering institutes in
India like IITs, NITs, etc. organise the students’ representative body through
faculty selection or a general election process. In 2014, Sardar Vallabhbhai
National Institute of Technology (SVNIT) made a structural transformation in
its students’ council process. The institute that was earlier indifferent to
the idea of holding student body elections, has brought in democratic elections
in its procedures. Until April 2014, student secretaries and representatives were
selected by the faculty and HODs based on their affiliation and goodwill with
the latter.

As per the Lyngdoh Committee Report of the
University Grants Commission (UGC), implemented in 2006, all universities and
colleges in India are mandated to conduct student body elections. While most
contemporaries of SVNIT have been following this rule, the institute introduced
it in their procedure only this year.

However, the demand for such elections did not
come from students in the years past. It was the idea of the management and deans
to involve students in the selection process of their representatives. “It was
the decision of the Board of Governors,” said Prof H.B. Naik, Student Affairs
Dean at SVNIT. Some SVNIT students told PaGaLGuY that while they had been satisfied
with the previous selection process, the current election-based system,
introduced in April 2014, has proved to be more efficient. Mohit Singh, the
Student General Secretary, says, “Students come and tell me that the present
student body team is more friendly and empathetic to the students. Being in my
fourth year and having seen the previous student bodies, frankly, even I have experienced
the difference in efficiency between then and now.”

The management says that even though it was the
first time that the entire college went through the election process, they did
not encounter any major glitches. The current Student GS received 1040 student votes
and won by a healthy margin of 300 votes.

As per the Lyngdoh Committee Report, the
institute will have to conduct an analysis 2 years after the first elections, to
measure its points of success and failure. Thus the impact of a democratically
elected student body and how it has brought in effective changes can only be gauged
next year.

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