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Protests And Protests, Unending Story Of JNU

As Delhi fumes with air pollution, there is yet another issue that is burning inside Delhi. The students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) are now on a clash with the management and police on fees hike. The JNU Students Union organised protest where thousands of students took part to address several issues faced by them, including the recent fees hike. 

During the protest, strife broke out between the police and the protesting students as they moved towards the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), wherein Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was addressing the university’s convocation at an auditorium. Water cannons were used to disperse the protestors and police stated that some of the students were detained as well.

The issue

The management of JNU recently increased the fees structure, and the students are protesting for a roll-back of the same. In the manual service charges of Rs 1,700 (which many increase/decrease according to the amount spent monthly on the electricity bill, sanitation among others) were introduced and the one-time mess security fee, which is refundable, has been hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000. The rent for a single-seater room has been increased from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month, while rent for a double-seater room has been increased to Rs 300 per month from Rs 10 per month.

The draft hostel manual also has provisions for dress code and curfew timings, the students union alleged, even as the administration denied these two claims. 

If you look into the fees structure, students will have to spend nearly Rs 4500-5000 apart from the mess bill which will be yet another Rs 2,500 and this will vary monthly and hostel wise. Moreover, late submission of fee will end up in a fine of Rs 50, which was earlier Rs 1 per day.

JNU students stated ‘academic emergency‘ at university

On Monday the protesting students of Jawaharlal Nehru University Student’s Union (JNUSU) said that the university is facing ‘academic emergency’ and went on to demand the dismissal of V-C M Jagadesh Kumar. They stated that he is incapable of carrying out his duty in any reasonable and democratic manner. 

The Union Human Resource Development Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank,’ was stuck inside the AICTE auditorium for 6 hours on Monday and was only allowed to leave after having a discussion with the JNUSU president. Nishank during the discussion had promised to look into the matter. 

On Wednesday, the JNU administration announced a partial roll-back in the fees hike and assistance for students of economically weaker sections. They also removed the provision for curfew timings and dress code from the hostel manual. However, the students responded saying that the strike would continue with student activist and former union president N Sai Balaji describing the move as a “lie” and a “trap”.

Revised manual of JNU

Under the new proposal by the JNU’s executive committee, the rent for a double-seater room, which was increased to Rs 300 per month from Rs 10 per month earlier, has now been reduced to Rs 100 per month. Rent for the single-seater room, proposed at Rs 600 per month from Rs 20 per month earlier, has been decreased to Rs 200 per month. The one-time refundable mess security fee has been hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000, although there is no reduction or removal of the utility charge of Rs.1,700 which was introduced lately.

Why hike is necessary?

Now what we have to see here is that from 1970 there has been no hike or revision made in the fees structure of JNU. In this era, it is understandable to increase the fees as Rs 10 for a double seater room in a metro city like Delhi is something which we can’t imagine. The hike was not too much though, if students and the people who support this protest could understand the simple fact, things wouldn’t have ended like this.

So Why a protest for such a minor hike?

When you compare this with the other universities fees structure, this question will trigger up in your mind. However, economically speaking–40% of the JNU students come from a family with income less than Rs 12,000 per month. So if you do some calculation, you will understand that with the new hike a student must spend approximately Rs 6,000 per month (including other stationery expenses). If you look it this way, do you think any family would be ready to spend half of their monthly income on education of their child? 

A public university in a democratic welfare state is expected to fund the education of its citizens as it is them who will lead our nation towards the future. You might think why not a select ideology and select few people, but how far do you think this will work?

How economically the hike is wrong?

Let me help you understand why the hostel fees hike is economically wrong. JNU has around 7500 students out of 2000 students have junior research fellowship (JRF). These students reside in the college hostel and hence don’t avail house rent allowance (HRA) of Rs 7,500. This helps the government to save nearly 18 crore rupees per annum (7500*2000*12). As the fees are hiked, these students will naturally leave the hostel and prefer to stay outside the campus and avail the HRA. Now, let’s take the case of rest 5500 students–they will have to pay Rs 2,000 per month apart from the mess bill which will total up to 13.2 crore rupees (2000*5500*12) annually. Thus the administration will have to incur a loss of around five crore rupees. So isn’t it actually these students protesting to save the hard-earned taxpayers money?

To conclude, let me tell you JNU protest is not for the people who have a lump sum amount as monthly pocket money. It is for those who are underprivileged. Yes, the hike is inevitable considering the economic condition–however, the decision should be taken by consulting with the representatives of these students or government should opt for giving a hike in HRA.

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