Theatre of the absurd: outcomes of the Lyngdoh Committee Report

by Ritwik on July 22, 2009

The following is a riveting drama possible only in the contradiction that is India.

*a nod to history: all characters & situations in the following work are imaginary. Any resemblence to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

The players:

The Long Arm of The Law: it is omniscient. It extends everywhere, in every domain, in every direction.

JM Lyngdoh and minions – tasked by The Long Arm of The Law to rewrite the rules of student union elections.

“Student”  “Leaders” – who are neither one nor the other.

Universities – the canvases on which above artists show-off their wizardry.

Jawaharlal Nehru University – it happens to be an actual university [gasp!] with a functioning and vibrant students union [big gasp!] comprised of people who are students as well as leaders [gasp leading to asphyxiation]

Narrator: at times, a direct victim of aforementioned wizardry; at other times,  a scarcely believing observer of this theatrical production.

AND ….

The Report: it is the final word, to be applied in unaltered form all over the country. Logic, common sense, practicality all be damned.


Act 1

It is felt that student union elections are infested with corruption, overt political interference and unaccountability. The Long Arm of The Law tasks JM Lyngdoh and minions to rewrite the rules of student union elections.

Act 2

JM Lyngdoh and minions tour the country. Write what is already known: student union politics is dirty. Then they visit JNU, and document the election process in that university and immortalize it in the form of The Report. They effect certain cosmetic changes [no printed posters, for example] but otherwise are so impressed by the JNU election process that they essentially plagiarize it. They mention that elections in JNU are vibrant, participative, issue-oriented, non-violent and non-coercive.

Act 3

The theatre shifts to Delhi University. The Report mandates that “Student” “Leaders” must have a certain minimum attendance, otherwise they’d be barred from the election process. This results in established party candidates magically acquiring 90% attendance overnight. A clean independent candidate like the Narrator is conveniently dispensed with through this filter.

Other points of The Report – like campaign expenditure limits, non-use of vehicles, even non-use of printed posters all lie in tatters. Voter turnout plummets to 25%, from 45% an year ago.  Thus, voter participation also lies in tatters.

The Result: DU elections proceed as before, with no qualitative change whatsoever. However, on paper The Report has been implemented. This is to the satisfaction of The Long Arm Of The Law.

Act 4

JNU elections are held. Lyngdoh recommendations are not implemented because they are already in place [Lyngdoh copied from JNU, remember?]. Printed posters and pamphletes are still allowed. Unlike DU, these pamphletes stress on issues and ideology. They are not modelling portfolios of candidates like in DU.

A new students union is chosen. It does good work, like raising the issue of labourers on campus not being paid minimum wages. [contrast this with illustrious “Student” “Leaders” in other universities].

But The Long Arm Of the Law is unamused. Criticizes JNU for not implementing The Report. Suspends the union.

Result: Union is still suspended. The country’s most vibrant and effective students union movement has suffered a massive setback. Nobody knows what is going to happen next.

Act 5 – Conclusion:

The Report set out to duplicate the JNU model in other universites. Other universities function as before; the report is implemented only on paper.The JNU election process is on life-support, desperately seeking blood transfusion.

The Law is satisfied in its glory.


‘clean independent candidate is dispensed’-that still pinches! But anyhow…
Especially the act showing its utter failure!

by Neelakshi on July 22, 2009 at 9:48 pm. #

need more of political satire.

by Aaditya on July 22, 2009 at 10:01 pm. #

@Neelakshi: Thanks :) And of course it pinches, it was an act of utter stupidity.

@Aaditya: I am confused. Does my post need more political satire or does the world around us need it in general? If it is the latter, hopefully we are in the process of doing something about it :p

by Ritwik Agrawal on July 22, 2009 at 10:10 pm. #

excellent use of sarcasm to reveal the flaws in government policy. I particularly liked

“Jawaharlal Nehru University – it happens to be an actual university [gasp!] with a functioning and vibrant students union [big gasp!] comprised of people who are students as well as leaders [gasp leading to asphyxiation]”

by Raghuvir Dass on July 23, 2009 at 11:13 am. #


How is it that the flaws of a larger system were reflected in a smaller subset of itself, found utterly unacceptable by the larger system, ordered corrected by the larger system, a process which was perverted by the self-same flaws it was trying to correct, and eventually led to the enforcement of these same flaws??

(The flaws being low voter turnout, overall lack of confidence in political system, and rampant corruption.)

by Sky on July 23, 2009 at 11:17 pm. #

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