Ex-JNUSU presidents pledge support to students’ struggle

They endorse call to form human chain at CP tomorrow

Several former presidents of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) on Monday said that the ongoing protests on the university campus was not a “Left-wing students against the Right-wing government issue, but a fight to save public funded education”.

“Students are rising in protest all over the country against the anti-people and anti-education policies of the government being dictated by corporates and vested interests. We pledge our support to the struggle of the students of JNU, to the struggles of students in all parts of the country and to the democratic struggles of the people for access to free and quality education for all,” the former student leaders said. They endorsed the JNUSU’s call to form a human chain at Connaught Place on November 27 as a part of the ‘national protest day’ to be organised at multiple venues across the country.

CPI(M) polit bureau member Prakash Karat, who was the third JNUSU president, said it was the students’ union that had protested and ensured that JNU would have an inclusive admission policy and that mess bills would be capped at a certain amount so that people from diverse backgrounds and socio-economic status would be able to study, as the university in its early days was under threat of becoming an elitist organisation.

He added that the claims that taxpayers’ money being wasted on students was “nonsense” as the country is not run on income tax paid by 3% of the population alone.

In a statement, the former student leaders said that the latest attempt by the JNU administration to unilaterally and without any consultation with the elected representatives of the students, the JNUSU, enforce an unprecedented hike in hostel room rents, fees and security deposits has to be seen as part of the regressive assaults on higher education that have increasingly and systematically been put in place, ever since the “Modi-Shah regime has come to power”.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “With the decline of democratic practices under the present regime, the practice of resorting to executive orders to implement policies without public debate has become the new normal.” Mr. Yechury was the JNUSU president in 1977.

The former student leaders rubbished the claims that “taxpayers” money is being “wasted” on the students. “Today all of us, including school and university students, are ‘taxpayers’. In fact, collections from indirect taxes are almost as much as those from direct taxes. We now need to demand that our money should be spent on us, and on the education and healthcare which will build our society and meet the needs of the people, particularly the younger generation who are our future,” the statement read.

The leaders added that rising costs of higher education, shrinking budgets and employment opportunities, and an economy now recognised to be in a structural recession, have all contributed to putting higher education out of reach for more than 90%of India’s younger generation. “Replacing grants and scholarships with institutional and individual loans is a crisis-ridden strategy. Massive tuition and hostel fee hikes and introduction of the notorious ‘self-financing’ professional courses, while scholarships remain stagnant are just the latest means to keep out or push out the majority of students from higher education and to reduce higher education to a preserve of the elite,” the statement said.

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2020 3:11:56 PM |

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