On Monday, 11 November 2019, the Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal came to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi for its third convocation. While the graduating students might have been set free to leave the varsity to carve out their careers, the minister was stuck there for 6 hours.
This happened because the students of the varsity staged strong protests against the administration over the steep increase in fee, dress code and curfew rules laid out in the new hostel manual.
The students have been expressing their dissent over a fortnight now, but the protests escalated sharply on Monday when they protested outside the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) auditorium, where Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu addressed the convocation gathering.
Over 600 security personnel were deployed outside the campus to contain the agitating students. According to the police, they only used mild force and did not lathicharge the students. The latter however allege otherwise.
New Hostel Rules vs. Students
Below is the revised rent for hostel rooms and services for JNU students.
Apart from the revised fee structure shown above, the new hostel manual includes the following rules:
- Curfew time is fixed at 11:30 PM.
- No student allowed in someone else’s room post 10:30 PM.
- No visitors allowed after 10:30 PM.
- Fine of upto INR 10,000 for violating hostel norms.
- Hostel administration can deny entry to visitors.
- Students need to take permission from warden for night outs.
The students demand a complete rollback of the hostel manual. Furthermore, they want their representatives to be a part of the discussion to frame hostel rules.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union feels that the university is facing an academic emergency. They don’t deem the Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar fit for his duty as he has not been able to fulfill his responsibilities in a democratic and reasonable manner.
As a result, they want Mr. Kumar to be step down from his post.
Also Read: JNUSU Presidential Candidate, Jitendra Suna, Used To Earn Rs. 30-40 Working As A Labourer When He Was 8
Why Students Are Not In The Wrong
26% of students have family income less than INR 6,000 per month, whereas the estimated new hostel fee will be INR 6,308 per month.
The hike in the fee is significant enough to keep nearly 40% of students from studying in the university as majority of students come from backward and rural backgrounds.
It’s a protest to not make education a commodity up for sale as every students should have access to good quality education at affordable cost.
The authorities say that they increased the hostel fee because it had not been revised for over a decade. The infrastructural development warrants such increase in fee.
However, I don’t think sleeping over the hostel fee over a decade and then introducing a steep hike one day is any way to work towards infrastructural development.
Also, regressive hostel rules that curb the students’ freedom will not contribute to a positive learning experience at the varsity. All they will do is lead to rebellion, which is evident even now.
Rollback Or An Eyewash?
After JNU’s Executive Council Meeting, the Education Secretary R Subrahmanyam took to Twitter yesterday and wrote,
“Executive Committee announces major roll-back in the hostel fee and other stipulations. Also proposes a scheme for economic assistance to the EWS students. Time to get back to classes. @HRDMinistry”
However, this was misleading as only a partial rollback was announced for students below the poverty line (BPL) who are not availing any scholarship.
The students’ union slammed the HRD Ministry and the Centre for the false narrative of a rollback. Subsequently, the students continue to protest till all their demands are met.
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