Student, admin face-off as old as JNU

Published on Nov 26, 2019 12:06 AM IST
HT Image
HT Image

New Delhi

Though students from Jawaharlal Nehru University have been protesting against the hostel fee hike for almost a month, the agitation over affordable and accessible education in the varsity is not new. In 1972, three years after the university was founded, the students’ union had started the first protests in the varsity demanding for a more “inclusive” admission policies and a reduction in the mess fee.

CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat, who served as the president of JNU students’ union (JNUSU) in 1973-74, said, “Since JNU was a national university, we had to ensure that students from all backgrounds came to the varsity. The-then union members analysed the first-year admissions in JNU and found that around 70% of the students in social sciences were coming from three Delhi colleges, including St Stephen’s College and Lady Shri Ram College.”

To ensure that students from marginalised backgrounds too reach the university for higher education, the students’ union then began an agitation. “We even gheraoed the-then vice chancellor Gopalaswami Parthasarathy and held the first one-day strike for our demands, which included capping of mess fee at R 100 per month,” Karat said.

Since October 30, JNU students have been protesting against the steep hike in hostel fee, which they claim will push the marginalised students out of higher education. Claiming a right to accessible and affordable education for all, students took to Delhi’s streets and called for a complete shutdown in the university till the fee hike was rolled back completely.

JNU administration said the hike was long due and has offered a 50% fee confession to students belonging to Below Poverty Line category following protests by students.

“Currently, JNU is having a deficit of more than Rs 45 crore. It is largely because of the huge electricity and water charges and the salary of contractual staff....Thus, there is no alternative for the Inter Hall Administration than to collect service charges from the students,” the university said in a statement last week.

Sohail Hashmi, writer and an alumnus of JNU, said: “We also demanded students’ participation in all levels of decision-making, including formation of mess committees with elected representatives. When the mess bills started shooting up, we had organised protests. Many students could not afford a mess bill of Rs 200 even at that time.”

“If the university had been allowed to function the way it was, it would become just another university in Delhi. There needed to be mechanisms so that students from all over the country could come to the national university,” he said.

Thus, after student interventions, Karat said the university moved from a completely merit-based admission system to its model of deprivation points wherein previous academic record would not receive 100% weightage. Instead, students from SC/ST/OBC communities or those with economically weaker sections would be given points for admission. Currently, only undergraduate and postgraduate students are eligible for deprivation points.

“After a struggle, negotiations were started and the policies were changed along with administration and it was implemented in 1973,” he said. “Even the demand to cap the mess fee at Rs 100 was accepted by the university.”

On Monday, former JNUSU presidents, including Karat and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, extended solidarity to the ongoing protest by JNU students against the hostel fee hike and demanded a more affordable and accessible public education system.

Issuing a joint statement, 12 former JNUSU leaders called for a judicial inquiry into the police lathicharge on JNU students during November 18 march, to include students’ representatives in decision-making processes of university, and an increased budgetary allocation for education.


    Kainat Sarfaraz covers education for Hindustan Times in Delhi. She also takes keen interest in reading and writing on the intersections of gender and other identities.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Many regions in Karnataka are expected to receive light to very light showers, while others are forecasted to remain dry, latest estimates said. (Keshav Singh/HT)

    Rain lets up in Karnataka, forecast for very light showers in some areas

    Rain in Karnataka seems to be showing signs of letting up at last, especially in the coastal areas that have been battered non-stop with landslides and house collapses, killing over 70 in around two months. The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre on Tuesday forecasted isolated very light to light rain over the state. Kurkunda in the Shahapur Taluk of Yadgir district on Tuesday received the highest rainfall of 47 mm.

  • Around 24,000 hectares of farmland has been marooned. (ANI)

    Odisha floods: Over 250,000 people across 10 districts affected

    Floods have affected over 250,000 people in at least 1,400 villages across Odisha's 10 districts as heavy rainfall in the upper and lower catchment areas of the Mahanadi swelled the river and led to breaches in embankments, a top official said. Special relief commissioner P K Jena said around 24,000 hectares of farmland has been marooned. Over 700 boarders were rescued after their school in the Cuttack district was marooned.

  • The NCRTC has set the target of 2023 to start operation on the 17-km stretch between Sahibabad and Duhai on the primary section of the corridor.

    Rapid rail to deliver vegetables, milk in Delhi-NCR | What we know

    The NCRTC established Regional Rapid Transit System - a rail-based, high-speed regional commuter transit system for Delhi-NCR, will also facilitate transportation of goods, Livehindustan reported. The first RRTS train set arrived at Duhai depot in June from its manufacturing unit in Savli in Gujarat. Delhi-Meerut Rapid Rail Line successfully conducted its first trial on August 7. Here's what we know about the transportation of goods via rapid rail in Delhi-NCR 1.

  • The minimum temperature on Tuesday was 24.6°C. (File image)

    Cloudy sky, light rain expected in Delhi today: IMD

    The India Meteorological Department on Wednesday said Delhi is “likely to witness generally cloudy sky with possibility of very light rain or drizzle” on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the average maximum temperature was recorded at 33.1C, which was one degree below the normal temperature around this time of the year. The minimum temperature on Tuesday was 24.6C, which was two degrees below the normal temperature at this time of the year.

  • Bengaluru could see power cuts in many areas on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. (FOR REPRESENTATION PURPOSE)

    Scheduled power cuts in Bengaluru from August 17 - 19: Report

    Bengaluru's electricity board, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited, has planned scheduled power outages in the city on August 17 and 18 to undertake maintenance and repair works. Multiple projects were delayed in the city in the midst of relentless rain, such as the shifting of overhead cables underground. Many similar works are underway, which are usually carried out between 10 am to 6 pm.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, August 17, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now