31 August 2019
Bhubaneswar: A presidential candidate for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) polls, which is scheduled to be held on September 6, has become the darling of social media for his past that is full of struggles.
Jitendra Suna, the presidential candidate of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), hails from a remote village Pourkela under Karlamunda block of Kalahandi district in Odisha.
Youngest among seven siblings, Jitendra was introduced to manual labour at a very young age. He used to help his father as an agricultural labourer and side by side continued his education. His mother, who was a vegetable seller, died when he was 8-years-old. Jitendra considers her as the head of the family who motivated him to pursue education.
He completed his schooling at the village school and had to travel five kilometres daily to pursue his Plus Two at Risida College. However due to poor financial conditions he had to stop midway and went to work with his brother as a helper with Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) in New Delhi, fitting gas pipelines, fixing stoves and digging roads in case of pipe bursts.
A year later, Jitendra returned back and pursued his graduation at Tusra College in Balangir. He had to cycle for 15 kilometres daily to reach the college as the shortest route to reach there was to cross the Tel River which lacked a bridge.
After completing his graduation, Jitendra was told about an institute in Nagpur which is providing free coaching for competitive examinations. However, it turned out to be a 10-month course in Ambedkarism and Buddhism. It was there that Jitendra and his sister, who is now a Research Scholar at University of Sydney, came to know more about caste based discrimination and how education can help in its eradication.
Inspired by some of his mentors at the institute, Jitendra sat for the JNU entrance examination in 2012 but was not able to clear it. He however cracked it in his second attempt in 2013 and went on to do an MA in History.
It was there he along with some fellow students founded BAPSA in 2014 to raise voices for the oppressed and marginalised communities of the society. It was also an alternative to the Left and Right wing politics prevailing in JNU.
After MPhil from the Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy, Jitendra is currently enrolled as a PhD student in the same centre.
As presidential candidate his agenda is to address the dropout rates in JNU, ensure hostel allotment to students, make sure students get their fellowships and eradicate various forms of caste based discrimination in the varsity.