The campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU at New Delhi has been in the news for some time, not because of any of its student’s merit but due to all wrong reasons. This time, the varsity is again in the middle of controversy due to the recent fee hike order on hostel accommodation. The lodging fees of the hostel, which was earlier Rs 10 and Rs 20 was raised to Rs 300 after a span of 40 years, which includes utility and service charge, which was zero until now. This fee structure was formed back in the 1950s and 1960s when the government was mainly focused on encouraging education for increasing the mass of skilled people needed for industrialization.
The subsidy was provided to the students at that time so that education remains in everyone’s reach. The fee structure was made by keeping in view the students of below the poverty line. But now the revised fee structure has become ire for the students as they launched a massive agitation against it. Students are protesting the fee hike and demanding a rollback of the increased fees. Students are accusing that if the fee hike is imposed forcefully on them, it will make education unaffordable for the students who hail from low-income families or have a limited source of income. Then students will be forced to drop out and discontinue their studies. The fee hike is just not limited to JNU as other government-aided educational institutes are also planning to revise their fees structure and increase the monthly fees.
However, the logjam between the students of JNU and the government did not stop to a civilized protest, and instead, it turned violent. The students making a protest march to the parliament against the fee hike clashed with the police, bringing a grinding halt to the traffic. The protest did not stop there as there were reports of violence within the varsity of JNU as students vandalized the statue of Swami Vivekananda inside the campus. Due to the stiff agitation by the students, the university administration decided to roll back the fee hike partially for below poverty line students who do not have any scholarship.
The history of agitation in the JNU campus is old, and in recent times it has gone quite volatile. Back in 2016, the JNU campus was in news when the students held a protest march against the judicial hanging of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhatt, who were found guilty in masterminding the terrorist attack on parliament in India. The students were found to singing and saying anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans during the event. Though it was named a cultural event at the time of organizing it, but soon the whole episode moved in an anti-national direction. Many were booked in the case of sedition, including the president of the student’s union Kanahiya Kumar for instigating anti-national activities inside the JNU campus. Some political parties also showed interest in the events held by the students union on the campus and also extended support to them in a direct and indirect form.
But the fundamental question which remains is that is JNU becoming a breeding ground of anti-national activities, or its politics played over it. The recent events are tarnishing the sanctity of the prestigious educational institute, and such incidents are sending a very dangerous message to other students across the country. It is true that the underprivileged students do need government aid and support for the completion of education and make a better future for themselves. The fee hike can be reasoned, or there can be a way out where the financial way out for easing the pressure on students. But there should be a complete halt of politicizing the issue, and both government, as well as students, should bring the matter to an amicable solution rather than clashing with one another.