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Thursday, November 14, 2019

fee hike in JNU ~ students protests, vandalise statue of Swami Vivekananda


What do you call a place, which is in news for wrong reasons all the time ?

Jawaharlal Nehru University's (JNU) top decision-making body on Wednesday announced a "major rollback" in the hostel fee hike, a senior official of the Ministry of Human Resource Development said  amid a massive protest by students over the issue. The officer said the JNU body also proposed a scheme to provide financial help to students from the Economically Weaker Sections. Can you imagine what the reaction was ?

It was set up in 1969 by an act of Parliament with the noble objective of providing quality education – and named after India’s first PM - Jawaharlal Nehru University.  G. Parthasarathi  was the first vice-chancellor.  The bill for the establishment of Jawaharlal Nehru University was placed in the Rajya Sabha on 1 Sept  1965 by the then minister of education, M. C. Chagla. During the discussion that followed, Bhushan Gupta, member of parliament, voiced the opinion that this should not be yet another university. New faculties should be created, including scientific socialism, and one thing that this university should ensure was to keep noble ideas in mind and provide accessibility to students from weaker sections of society.

Sadly, it has become a place where some groups of vested interests stay forever in the name of pursuing higher studies and research and speak against the Nation from the ramparts of the educational University.  With prices of everything from dosa to car going up, if the fees too are increased, a group calls it draconian and battles it out with brute power.  It seemingly was a regular move of proposed fee hike, administrative increase in room rent, service charges, water, electricity bills and mess deposits. 

It provides place if not education for those who once thought of pursuing studies abroad but settled here claiming that the cost of education is less, facilities provided is good and compares well with Universities abroad.  For many of us who come from low-income families, going to a bank for a loan is a reminder of our class position  ~ and those from rural areas, coming to the city in pursuance of education is the first step of excellence.  Govt provides various scholarships and measures in supporting the education of the underprivileged.  The education system is so divided that it encourages some to educate freely while some classes  struggle to get seats, more so in Govt colleges and other educational institutions. 

The cost of education in the city has gone up considerably that one may have to take bank loans or worser still, loans from private parties selling their property to get quality education ~ all in the hope of getting educated well, and getting good employment and thereby good remuneration – not all succeed in a society where some are benefitted at every step.  At JNU, student groups chose to battle out the proposed hike and it turned violent !

The struggle against fee hikes has been going on for more than two weeks now;  students have come out against the administration in the past few years. JNU still remains a symbol for  affordable quality education in this country.  JNU has changed the lives of many  students from marginalised and non-affluent backgrounds to transcend the socio-economic conditions from which they come.

All Govt support comes from tax-payers money but .. .. there are constant complaints that some students, read – student leaders are  freeloaders; these institutions cultivate a particular kind of ideological leanings among students that seems threatening to the status quo socio-political order;  and there are some courses in humanities that do not serve the Nation State or the Society at large.  The aim of education is to improve the quality of human beings and make students better citizens, not the ones to fight at will and harm public property.  Universities and hostels should never be places that allow elements to stay on forever; those who are not bonafide students should be flushed out.  Even in some hostels here, we often here that people who come to the city for one job or the other end up staying in student hostels, in the garb of visiting their relatives. 

At a time when people spend so much on movies, malls, food, and at times on unwanted beverages, increase in fees and expenditure are protested vehemently.  What students movements should aspire is good quality education and upliftment in society.  Education is the tool for social transformation.  Though the management announced   partial rollback   the JNU students' union slammed the centre, calling the announcement "eyewash".  There has been bigger rollback for students belonging to BPL category.  A JNU teacher has called the centre's move an attempt to mislead the students.  The students, who had been objecting plans for what they claim is a huge hike in hostel fees, amped up their protest on Monday as the university held its convocation that was attended by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'. They had surrounded the building where the event was being conducted. The Minister was stuck for over six hours at the venue.  That sounds hooliganism. 

Hundreds of protesting students had clashed with the police on Monday. Policemen in riot gear, completely outnumbered by the students, were seen jostling with the crowd.  To top them all objectionable messages were written on the Swami Vivekananda Statue inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus.  The statue is situated on the right side of the administrative block opposite the statue of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.  The incident has come to light just a day after students entered the JNU administration block and left painted messages for vice-chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar.  "You are not our VC. Go back to your Sangh," they wrote on one of the doors to the VC's office. Another message written on the floor outside the office read, "Mamidala, Bye, Bye Forever." On one of the walls of the administration block, the students wrote, "RIP VC."

~ in someways, that represents the quality of fight and the way it is heading for – should students select VC ? and decide on the action ? –things do not augur well.  How long should this continue, and why not strong action against goons ?
Sad !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th Nov.2o19.

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