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  • The Edict

The Political Future of Ashoka? An Interview with the Independent Presidential Tickets

by Pooja Airy (UG'25) and Kunal Singh (UG'25)

This year, there are three independent Presidential tickets on the ballot for the upcoming Student Government elections. The Edict reached out to them to better understand their manifestos and hopes for their tenures.

“Accountable And Accessible Ashoka”: Navya Asopa (UG’24) and Domil Antony Johnson (UG ‘25)

Navya Asopa (pictured left) is one of the independent Presidential candidates for this election cycle. Navya believes administrative transparency is a key issue that needs to be addressed at Ashoka. She will focus on revoking the new ID card policy and addressing the disabling of the Ashoka email ID as a consequence of late fee payment, along with various “student life and residence issues”. She also opposes the “rampant sexual assault cases on campus, and an acute silence from the administration’s side”. Echoing Navya’s concerns, her running mate Domil Antony Johnson (pictured right) emphasises the responsibility to “tightly” scrutinise the administration’s actions.

By examining the financial aid criteria which she feels are “not very transparent and clear to students”, Navya hopes to see a thriving caste and class diversity on campus. Finally, Navya wants to promote affordable stationery and groceries. For Domil, similar concerns are paramount: they believe that “unnecessary money” needs redistribution to clubs, societies, and student teams representing Ashoka [Domil did not elaborate on what they mean by “unnecessary money”]. They also stress the need to provide free academic printouts to students. They want to focus on the availability of nutritional diets in food outlets across campus. Issues which have been previously reiterated among the student community – the disappearance of RH water dispensers and proper WiFi – are problems they wish to seek a solution to. The need to have a gender-sensitive environment on campus and more neutral washrooms is something that they want to work on if elected. Navya and Domil’s campaign aims to establish greater accessibility and accountability within the Ashokan community.

“Empathetic, Not Sympathetic”: Rutupurna Debalina Naik (UG’24) and Swayam Nath (UG’25)

Rutupurna Debalina Naik (pictured right), Presidential Candidate, and Swayam Nath (pictured left), Vice Presidential Candidate, have a long-standing professional relationship that dates back to the latter’s first week on campus. As members of the since-dissolved party Sattva, they quickly realised they worked well together as a team, sharing similar ideas and goals. Based on their aligned vision, they decided to run together for the presidential elections, positioning themselves as a team that cares about people beyond politics.

Rutupurna stated, "We are not sympathetic, we are empathetic," when asked about their manifesto. Their platform includes a range of priorities, such as addressing workers' issues, special accommodations for neurodivergent students, enhancing community engagement, and improving transparency between the student body and administration. Rutupurna specifically highlighted her commitment to promoting transparency and effective communication between the administration and the student body, a concern which seems to pervade all campaigns. They are determined to create a safe space at Ashoka where people stand with each other, rather than against each other. Overall, their campaign aims to build a genuine connection with the student body while addressing the issues that matter most to them.

“Realistic and Honest”: Hazim Bin Fayaz (UG’24) and Aditi Bathla (UG’24)

Hazim Bin Fayaz (pictured left) and Aditi Bathla (pictured right), Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates respectively, “are students who have “continuously been working for student welfare” in several domains. They realised people often feel the need to engage in a face-off with the administration, and instead advocate for a “combined effort to reach practical solutions” beneficial for everyone. Their motive for running as a presidential ticket is to “reduce the gap that is present between the students and the administration in this campus to make it a thriving place”.

After considering the span of their tenure as well as various potential bureaucratic hurdles, Hazim and Aditi aim to divide their work into short- and long-term goals. In an email sent out on 28th April with the subject line “Hazim & Aditi's Election Campaign Thread”, the candidates pointed out that the MyAshoka portal does not require user authentication, enabling anyone to access other students’ private information. Through a “simple, achievable and realistic” manifesto, they communicate that their first priority is fixing the privacy issue with the portal. Long-term goals include advocating for a “faster and less taxing grievance redressal mechanism in statutory bodies”, and mandating a “regular audit of food outlets on campus” regarding health and sanitation. Ultimately, Hazim and Aditi wish to keep their campaign “concise, but impactful”.

The Edict also conducted an interview with the Presidential Ticket from Leher. Voting is currently scheduled to open on 30th April.

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