Shailaja Neelakantan writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education that student elections in India are a farm league for national campaign thuggery:
[S]tudent elections are seen as steppingstones to national politics, and therefore a route to wealth and power. Scores of important political figures, including Atal Behari Vajpayee, the former prime minister, got their start in university campaigns…
Mr. Rai’s death marked the climax of three and a half months of fear unleashed on Lucknow by members of various student groups, who defaced public property, extorted money from businessmen and doctors at gunpoint, and forced the university to shut down classes with threats of violence…
Many of these thugs become perennial students on the 10+ year plan:
Some Lucknow candidates have been at the university for as long as 13 years, earning not only bachelor’s but also numerous master’s degrees in order to continue their involvement in university politics while they wait to advance to the national level of their parties.
They’re generously funded by the national parties:
During the September elections, Mr. Khanna says, he saw student groups giving away mobile-phone cards, chocolates, and coupons for liquor, among other freebies. At Lucknow University, student leaders spent an estimated $444,000 on the elections this year. [Ed.: Yes, that's in dollars.] “We don’t get money. We get support and nonmonetary resources to mobilize students…” He was evasive as to what he meant by nonmonetary resources.