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The issues raised by the students and teaching fraternity of JNU are highly important and need to be understood in the right spirit, at the time when there is a sinister campaign going on to discredit the University and shut its door for the poorest of the poor of the country.

Why is there so much of hatred towards JNU in India’s rich urban savarna class and the root lies in that whatever the fault lines inside JNU and I have said it many time that caste supremacy of the elite remain intact in the JNU, yet it has also provided space to a huge number of groups which would not have got it in any other university. In the last few years, organisations like Birsa Ambedkar Phule Student Association ( BAPSA) has emerged a powerful tool to mobilise the students from the marginalised sections and they have challenged the main power groups. There are other groups too. Ofcourse, it remain the only place where the left student unions still holds their impressive influence over the students and the reason is the huge diversity and representation of wider sections in JNU, a unique point of the University.

But this uniqueness is under the challenge now. As JNU provided these spaces and now a large number of the scholars from deprived sections are emerging and challenging the popular narrative and questioning the authorities as well as building alternative narratives and ideas, the dominant forces remain afraid of these new emerging ideas. Basically, it is not a war on JNU but frankly war on India’s Dalit Bahujan classes and their scholars to ensure quality education remain out of their reach.

I dont blame the police for what happens. It is the easiest way to target them who are deep distress. The real villain is the JNU administration as well as those ‘minds’ who are working over time to deny India’s Bahujan communities right to quality education. Police just follow the orders and they cant say no to the orders of the high command therefore, we must focus on the real issues as what is the priority of the government. Why a narrative is being build around JNU that is the ‘den’ of ‘freeloaders’. It is an easy target and whatsapp universities are in action to carry such disinformation.

Freeloaders are much better the looters of the country. Freeloaders is a term used by the looters of the nation who remain quiet when State Bank of India write off debt of 1,63,934 crore rupees in the last five years. Who are these looters and why are they not behind the bar ? Whose money is this ? You are penalising the poor for their saving accounts but unable to take these looters head on. Some of them have run away London and NewYork, with active cooperation of the netas and power connectors. Look at the freebies that the netas provide to them with cheapest food at the canteen of India’s parliament. When each minister or MP has crores of rupees yet when they fell ill, they use the state apparatus but they are not the freeloaders.

We are often told about the ‘taxpayers’. I want to ask as who does not pay tax in India. Even a poor beggar pay tax when he buy anything. You have made India, a tax state. What is that without tax. Even walking on the road has tax. Each product that we buy has tax, any place that we visit has a tax.. so what is that which can be said to be without tax. When you collect tax from us, then you have duty to provide us services. What is the services that we are being provided. As per report in a news portal Government of India has collected over Two lakh Eighteen Thousand crore rupees till March 2018, as education, sanitation and other cesses that it imposes on people but when the question of distribution of it comes, Primary Education was not paid Rs 1,977 crore rupees while for Secondary and Higher Education, 94,000 crore rupees remained unpaid. The Research and Development department did not receive Rs 7,298. That shows our priority. You collect funds from people and these are cess which means paid by all, including rich and poor as it is from the item that we buy. Will we ever ask question about how much wasting money in funding the TV channels who are now fakenews industry ? Will we question the amount of money that we waste in luxuries of our political leaders’ particularly those in power. Somebody want to buy a new jet plane, other wants special tiles for his building, so many of us are fantasizing with millions of rupees of statues, other want temples of trillions of rupees but that is not questioned by us which will only befit the power elite and their false narratives.

JNU’s fee structure is being talked about too much but it is very much similar to other universities. There may be some minor differences but the fact is Hyderabad Central University and other universities in the South are much cheaper. Even Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University, student fee and hostel-mess charges are cheaper. Question is not that. The thing is that JNU is providing a qualitative education, it changes your horizon, your outlook. It make you question the power. It is a unique institutions but the government and its paid media feel that it is making student ‘awara’.

The campaign that is being run by the goons masquerading as anchors. It is more than shocking. Students dont come as they wish but they qualify the entrance examination unlike Delhi University where you only go through your percentager of your marks. Over 40% students hail from extremely poor family backgrounds and if the current fee hike continue, most of them will have to leave JNU. It means most of the Dalit, Adivasi, OBC students who are in JNU in large number will have to leave education or quality education if the fee structure is allowed to go unchallenged.

The government has already made the IITs, IIMs, medical institutions, Charted accountancy and other beyond the reach of the common people. Just by a few fellowships you cant hide the fact that a majority of people will find it extremely difficult to enter into these institutions. The Dalit Adivasi OBC students in these ‘speicalised’ zones are facing the tyranny of the administration as well as caste hindu students, who suffer from various complexes.

The issue of JNU is not merely hostel and mess charges. The broader question is that it is the issue of free and qualitiative education for all. We need more and more JNUs and Navodaya Vidyalayas to that to have space for rural poor and other marginalised in our education. Once they are in education, they will find their way out. JNU provides them opportunity to grow, to feel the freedom, enjoy the power of free thought and rational thinking. JNU does not ask its students to touch the feets of their teachers, here the teachers and students sit and discuss, sip tea together which is highly impossible at the Hindutva University of Varanasi. JNU give a kind of freedom to students which we dont find elsewhere, it gives them ideas to stand on their own and power to question.

The war on JNU is nothing but a war against intellectualism, free thinking and access to education to all the students who hail from the most marginalised sections. Like every other institutions, JNU too might have its problems and I am not among those who call it a ‘Jannat’ but it is the duty of the administration to sit with students and teachers to take a decision in the best interest of University and education so that those shortcomings can be rectified but it will serve no purpose if administration behave like a martial law dictator and criminalise the students. Peaceful demonstrations and sitting are part of democratic processes and can not be termed as in-disciplinary activity. The government can show its good intention by winning the heart of the students and meeting their demands. Any hike in the fee structure has to happen in negotiations with teachers and student leaders as such exorbitant hike will prove death knell for the dreams of many students hailing from absolutely poor background. JNU administration and government must act responsibly and negotiate to bring normalcy and stop the situation from deteriorating further.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity


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