FEE HIKE IN JNU: A BODY BLOW TO MARGINALISED STUDENTS
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students are up in arms against the ruling regime. JNU is under attack once again from the Sangh Parivar’s fascist ideology and atrocities. Fee hike is the outcome of the draft education policy of Union government to commercialise and corporatize education in India. The tremendous fee hike will ensure that JNU will become an elitist university eligible only for a few rich students while denying cheap education to a vast majority. The current fee hike is a body blow to the poor students pursuing almost free education in the prestigious and historical institution.
Students from the marginalized and poor sections will have to give up if the proposed hostel fee hike is implemented. The hike will also significantly affect female students. The University Grants Commission (UGC) stopping the funds to the university is the root cause for the fee hike. Why the UGC has stopped the grants? What is the role the Union HRD ministry in these conditions? Why the government is silent on this issue? And when the students get agitated, they are being brutally attacked with tear gas, water cannons and mercilessly lathicharged. It is not only an attack on the students but is a calculated move to strike the progressive institution itself and promoting commercialization of education itself. Today, there are only a few public universities wherein educational cost and expenditure are affordable and viable to all marginalized communities.
JNU has from the time of its creation has been producing generations of socially conscious people. And today they play the role of nation builders due to the JNU culture and character of qualitative but cheap education with its best academicians.
Instead of making education much more accessible and affordable for diverse students, the Union government is bent upon to deprive them higher education. It is unprecedented how in the last few years the university has been getting community of students trying to access higher education. The fact is that the government has not invested enough in good quality public institutions of higher education.
It must be taken note that the students of JNU are rightly and unanimously protesting against this, not only for themselves but for the millions of those who will be deprived of a rightful opportunity to access good quality education. The protest against the fee hike is piloted by all four Left students’ organizations – All India Students’ Federations (AISF), All India Students Association, Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Students’ Association. Almost all the other organizations working in the interest of students are holding the same view including the opportunistic ABVP.
It is a laudable decision of the JNU teachers association to oppose the changes in the hostel manual. The teachers association quoted the university’s 2017-18 annual report, which shows approximately 40 per cent of students in JNU come from families with a monthly income of less than Rs 12,000. The only reason students of poor category choose to study in JNU is because education is cheap and it would be easier to prepare for competitive examinations even without coaching because of the library facilities. Students are asking where the Union government’s inclusive policy is. Education must be inclusive and affordable. So, therefore, the present proposed hike in fee hike in JNU is inappropriately high and this shall make higher education inaccessible to a larger section of students in the present and future too.
The students are demanding a roll back of fee hike proposal. Otherwise the poor students will not be able to study.
The RSS-controlled BJP government has once again shown its antidemocratic attitude against the JNU students. Students are studying and are also struggling each day with new onslaughts every day. Students cannot be cowed down with such repressive and oppressive tactics.
Turmoil after turmoil is going on with the tacit understanding with University administration and Union Human Resources Development ministry. The ABVP, which has been betraying the JNU students’ community, is siding with communal forces. The Vice Chancellor instead of supporting the student community has taken a stand supporting the ruling regime. He refuses to meet the JNU Students’ Union.
Hundreds of students on November 10 entered the convocation ceremony area and raised slogan: “No Convocation without Affordable Education”. The main reason for the anger among the students is the introduction and imposition of service charges – for maintenance, mess workers, cook and sanitation – which were so far not included in the hostel fee. Under the new hostel charges, students have to pay an approximate service charge of Rs 1,700 per month. Rent for a single room has been increased from Rs 20 to Rs 600 per month, and for a double sharing room from Rs 10 to Rs 300 per month. Students will also have to pay utility charges, which did not have to so far.
The protesting students, hundreds of them had forced the Vice President Venkaiah Naidu to leave the event escorted by the police team. The students’ union submitted a 11- point memorandum to the HRD minister demanding that the draft Inter – Hall Administration (IHA) manual be withdrawn and that a fresh IHA meeting, including various stakeholders of the university be called.
The move on the part of JNU administration is exploitative in nature and against the socialistic interests of the students belonging to the poorer sections. JNU is popularly known for its progressive environment but the Union government with its puppet JNU administration through its Vice Chancellor is systematically targeting and aiming to destroy all democratic norms, curbing the freedom of speech and expression. The JNU administration has failed to discuss the genuine issue with the students and when they protested against this, it is letting loose repression on students.