Students to march to Parliament for jobs, hostels & scholarship

If the Government can spend ₹10,000 Crore on the manned mission to space, ₹5000 Crore on publicity and ₹3000 Crore on a statue, why can’t it spend more on education?

NH Photo
NH Photo

Saurav Datta

As many as 2.4 million posts in Government are lying vacant even as unemployment rate in the country is the highest in the last 20 years, riled student leaders at a briefing in the national capital. Accusing the NDA Government of pursuing policies detrimental to the interests of students and youth, they declared that like farmers, they would also march to Parliament in February to protest against the policies.

Employment in the Government, they charged, was being provided to a privileged few even as the Government promotes contract labour with low wages and with no social security or dignity. “Employment should be a fundamental right of the youth,” declared Sucheta De of All India Students’ Association (AISA).

The Government’s allocation on Education in percentage terms, said the President of JNU Students’ Union N. Sai Balaji, is the lowest since Independence. From 4.77% of the Union budget in 2013-14, it has come down to 3.48% in 2018-19, he claimed. HRD ministry’s own statistics, he pointed out, admitted that only a quarter of the youth, 25.8% to be precise, in the 18-23 age bracket had access to higher education.

But the Government is busy denying hostel accommodation and scholarships to the poorer students and thereby preventing weaker sections from accessing higher education, alleged student leaders.

Kaushik of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle alleged that the real brain drain was not the flight of intellectual capital to developed countries but destroying the dreams and aspirations of thousands of students from underprivileged backgrounds, and then subsequently keeping them out of dignified and sustainable employment.

Salman, president of the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union spoke against the oppression of Muslim students in universities, branding some of them such as Jamia and AMU as dens of terror- just to keep Muslims away from higher education.

“The very policies of this government militate against the idea of the public university as a centre of plurality and diversity. Reduction of scholarships, draconian curfew measures, denying hostel accommodation to women and introduction of self-financing courses in place of public funding- are calculated to keep women away from education and the workforce”, said Avantika of Pinjra Tod movement by girl students in universities.

A collective of 50 students’ unions and youth organisations, they said, have come together to organise a students’ march to Parliament on February 7 to protest against the Modi Governmnt’s policies. A Young India National Coordination Committee (YINCC) has been formed, which issued a Young India Charter listing the dreams and demands of the youth of the country.

More hostel and scholarships, an end to service on contract in government departments, anti-sexual harassment cells in universities, more central universities, increase in public funding of education and more academic autonomy to universities are some of the demands on the list.

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