Kasaragod: A day after the Rajya Sabha created history by unanimously passing the women's reservation bill setting aside 33% seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies, a college in the hinterlands of Kasaragod in Kerala's northern tip, did one better.
E K Nayanar Memorial Government College at Elerithattu, named after Kerala's longest-serving Chief Minister, elected an all-women students' council without a contest. The panel was set up by the Students' Federation of India (SFI), the students' wing of the CPM.
"We created history in Kannur University. Women were elected to all the eight major posts and 10 minor posts," said Shreya Jayan, the newly elected chairperson of the college in the hill panchayat of West Eleri, 60km northeast of Kasaragod town.
The college has been headed by female students in the past two years. Navya Suresh was the chairperson in 2022-2023, and Aika S was the chairperson in 2021-2022. Last year, female students were elected to five of the major posts, and male students were elected to four major posts. "This year we went for an all-women's panel," said Shreya, a second-year student in BA Functional English.
She said it was a natural progression. The college offers six undergraduate programmes in Economics, Hindi, Functional English, Commerce with Cooperation, Physics, and Political Science, and a post-graduate programme in Applied Economics. The college has around 600 students, mostly from West Eleri, East Eleri, Balal, and Kinanoor-Karindalam -- the hill panchayats in southeast Kasaragod.
Around 80% of the students of the college are female students, she said. "So we thought why can't women lead the college this time," she said.
SFI's Eleri area secretary Adon Francis said the proposal for an all-women's panel came from the college students. "The area committee and the college's unit committee discussed it. And we decided let's do it. All the women on the panel have a leadership role in the organisation anyway," he said.
Students' Union chairperson Shreya is the SFI's college unit vice president. Her batchmate Anju R is the vice-chairperson. Arya Raghavan, the SFI's area join secretary, is the general secretary of the students' union.
Nandana Mohan, a third-year student, is the joint secretary.
Megha T V will represent the college in the Kannur University Union council.
Saniya Prakash is the magazine editor; Anjana Vishwanath is the fine arts secretary; and Arunima C is the sports captain of the college.
Congress's Kerala Students' Union (KSU) and the RSS's Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) do not have units in the college. "The college has not seen a contest in the past seven years. But KSU sympathisers extended their support to us when we fielded an all-women's panel," said Shreya Jayan.
In 2018, Kalady Sanskrit University became the first varsity in India to elect an only-women University Union.