‘A Blow to the Head makes an Instant Hero in India’. I was in the middle of my computer lessons when this headline caught my eyes. I opened it without much thought, but when I was done with it, I had only one thought in my mind: It’s high time that I stopped spending hours on Buzzfeed quizzes.
The eye-catching article in the New York Times website was of Aishe Ghosh, the president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union. Aishe, 25, who did her undergraduate in Political Science from Delhi University, is now pursuing her master’s degree in International Relations from JNU. She was amongst the 20 students who got injured in the mob attack on January 5 on the campus grounds.
We see her on the Internet as a girl with an easy smile and messy ponytail, a bandage on her head and a cast on her hand. But she isn’t just a petite little bruised figure. She is one of the most recognised student leaders in India right now. Today, she is the hope for thousands of students who want to study but can’t afford high fees. Today, she is the face of a huge movement at JNU for affordable education.
She was elected president of the union in September 2019, after which Ghosh began protesting against hikes in hostel fees and other issues. Before the violence broke out on the campus, she had posted a picture urging the students to raise their voice on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.
I’m not taking sides on this issue. Maybe whatever Aishe is doing, protesting against the vice-chancellor and government’s decisions might be wrong. But that’s not the point, the point is she had enough courage to take a stand for what she believes is right.
Aishe is not out to take personal vengeance, she is raising her voice against the administration as the student body president of the students. I read an article online in which a student said, after she was attacked, “Aishe is fighting for all of us. When she was attacked, every one of us was attacked.”
The same article portrays her natural political skills and the wisdom to deal with personal remarks. When some people told her that she doesn’t look like a president because of how thin and petite she is, she retorted, “How much do I need to weigh to look like a president?” Maybe that’s what made me look up to her so much, maybe it’s because we both have one thing in common – people telling us how thin we are.
A version of this article appears in print on February 10, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.