The once rugged Aravali range which stands near Vasant Vihar is now a home to one of the world ranking university, my beloved Jawaharlal Nehru University. Covering around a 1000-acres of land the campus houses some of the best and excellent schools and centres of education. It has 14 major Schools and Centers ranging from Languages to Social Sciences to Molecular Medicine to Nano Sciences, with a strength of around 5000 students and Teachers approximately. Several of these Centers have been declared as “Center of Excellence” by UGC. The campus in total has 17 hostel accommodations- 7 all boys, 5 all girls, 4 co-ed, and 1 for married students. Residential accommodations are available also for the Professors and staff.
Students are diverse in JNU, basically a microcosm of the Indian Nation. Students from all over India, from every nook and corner, every society and stratum are drawn here and Foreign countries as well. To make sure that this is maintained, annual admission tests are simultaneously held at 37 centers spread across the country. Also special care is taken to draw students from underprivileged backgrounds by reserving 22.5 percent of the seats. Overseas students form around 10 percent of annual intake. The residencies of students hostels and faculty blocks are interspersed with one another, highlighting the vision of a large Indian family.
JNU provides its students with a huge platform of liberal and democratic student politics. Each and everyone is exposed to it which helps them to explore in the potential politics. The major student political bodies on campus that operate are both left and right oriented. AISA, AISF, SFI, DSF, NSUI, ABVP being the most active ones. Every year a new Student Union body (JNUSU) is elected through the process of voting. The parties campaign in schools and hostels through speeches, fierce poster and cartoons, followed by Presidential Speech debate. Everyone is encouraged to participate in it. The election season and the Presidential Speech debate is a delight to watch which is one of the most interesting affairs on campus. However, only a particular amount of students actively participate in politics. Other students are somewhat more academically inclined and state neutral views on politics. One common mistaken fact about JNU is that, it is often assumed to be a left-oriented campus. For many years now the parties coming into power are left-oriented but that doesn’t mean that all parties do not get equal opportunities. All parties are given fair chances to work and campaign in the campus.
Students in JNU live a very chilled out life. There are other activities as well which form an indispensable part of the students life other than politics. They engage very actively in discussions and debates on issues trending. A huge amount of students support queer identity, spreading more awareness and actively participating in movements. As the campus allows one a liberal space where one can place their opinions, accept, criticize and debate views of each other, one can often find such discussions traveling from classrooms and hostel rooms to dhabas. JNU has a tremendous dhaba culture, which provides tasty delicacies at affordable prices. One can also call it as the cheapest food-joint in Delhi. A few of the popular dhabas are Ganga dhaba, Sabarmati dhaba and Godavari dhaba. Many at times various musical shows, meetings are organized at these dhabas as they are the best places of interactions. The campus also has 24*7 working small food places and canteens around campus and in hostels too. If you ever happen to visit the campus you will also come across Raju da ka canteen, Shiv bhaiya ka canteen which are very popular among the students residing in hostels. The campus hosts other food festivals additionally-International and national both, at dhabas and open air theaters. There are various student forums established on the basis of respective regional areas and states which also organizes various cultural and food festivals. ‘Confluence’ being one of the largest among them which celebrates life and culture of the eight sisters of North-east States.
This is not all, the hostels every year organize Cultural and Hostel nights, sort of a competition among the hostels. The entire program is carried out by students from decorations to arranging food to DJ. This is one time of the year when one can witness students involved in serious discussions deciphering complex topics and theories by daytime and dancing to the tunes of Govinda, bhojpuri songs and Punjabi beats by night. There is this weird function also organized called ‘Chaat Sammelan’. The concept itself is hilarious as are the performances by various students who can make you go laughing-rolling-on-the-floor.
The student-teacher relation is very amiable. Personal interaction of students and teachers equally form a very lively generation and transmission of knowledge as does the classroom and laboratory teaching. The campus is very safe for all students, girls and boys alike. No restrictions or bars or moral policing on dressing up. Recently, the campus had fallen into the prey of a huge row when also some random students were incarcerated owing to “JNU dressing style” which was defined as ‘jhola-beard style’. Firstly, not all students dress up that way and secondly, students in JNU are also aware of latest trends in fashion. But the thing is, this hardly matters to them. All have the freedom to dress as they desire. The campus library which also is a big landmark, being the nine-storied highest building on campus, has 24*7 open reading rooms so as to be convenient for students to work and study at any time of the day or night. There are various clubs run by the students related to cultural performances, sports and other activities. ‘Kallol’ organized by the students of School of Languages, Literature and Cultural Studies is the most popular among them. JNU Mountaineering Club organizes moon-light treks every year to Qutub Minar. They also organize desert treks and mountain treks according to the favourable time of the year.
The campus is also a home to a varied wildlife including peacocks, neelgais, mongooses, porcupines, snakes and squirrels. They are so at home in the campus that you can watch them live around you. Waking up at the call of peacocks is not an uncommon phenomena in the campus. The greenery and quietness of campus is what every ex-jnuite definitely craves.
However, the academic is the most important priority of the students. As much as they like to involve in these programs and movements, learning from them and utilizing it in their academia is the main aim of the students. Focusing and exploring on new ideas is of utmost importance. These students know exactly how to balance fun and studies together.
En masse, living in JNU is no less than an adventure of a lifetime. Here you grow and see things as you have never before, find friendships which might become some of the treasured relationships of your life. You never know you might witness one of the important events to be later discussed in history. Life in JNU is not just a lifestyle, but a way of life.