Apart from the attacks made by their students’ wing on various universities across the country, the BJP government who is ruling the centre has surpassed two and half years of its fascist regime. They have been till now using communal polarization to achieve their electoral pursuits. The government has failed immensely not only on just keeping their promises fulfilled, but has become a threat to the very idea of what India’s secular and democratic values stands for.
This government which entered into rule pledging to fulfil the needs of the student and youth, has however diverted from their shallow promises and is now, on the contrary, upto forming strategies on how they can suppress the voices of dissent and debates of students across universities in India. No wonder that they are doing so because the voices of dissent would frustrate BJP’s efforts to build up a nation inclined towards their political ideology of the hindutva. And the fact is that such voices of discussions and dialogues can only happen in universities, the very few available liberal spaces in the country. But even these spaces are being trivialized and taken away with. With lowering the funds inordinately for the educational sector from the Union Budget, the government has yet again proved its apathy towards the learning future.
The Modi Sarkar’s performance in education so far does not inspire confidence to overcome the issues of the students.The Budget allocation for the University Grants Commission (UGC), which provides funds and maintains standards in institutions of higher education, has been cut to an extent nearly half of what it was before. Inadequate funding has compromised the quality of education with the government not even strengthening the existing infrastructure. Also the introduction of Choice Based Credit System(CBCS) has denigrated the courses by diluting the academic content and introducing electives that is of in no relation with the field of study(The UGC’s cowardly political advantage in back-pedalling its own previous decisions on ludicrous grounds is another embarrassment). Even the learning outcomes in our school system remains weak. The National Achievement Survey, PISA and other measurements show that not even half the children in Class V are able to read a Class II text. The government seems bereft of ideas to remedy this.This itself proves how perilous and anti-student the government is towards the student community. Drastic fund cuts in educational sector and implementation of deleterious educational policies thus will definitely pave a concrete way for the Privatisation of our education system. This will bring quality education available only to an elite section of the society. Thus commercialising our education system and implementing various neoliberal policies in the field of education will therefore weaken the public education system of our country and will lead to an educational disaster.
With this record of under-performance, it’s disturbing that the government is busy in sabotaging the autonomy of institutions of higher education. The resignations of key academic leaders and reinstating them with RSS men has created widespread concerns. These can be noticed from the IIT-Delhi Director, to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT-Bombay, to the NCERT Director, and even the Chairman of the National Book Trust, the distinguished Malayalam writer Sethu Madhavan, seven months before the expiry of his term. Sethumadhavan was a well known writer, the point is that the NBT was chaired by a person who at least knows how to write a book – but the new regime has expectedly replaced him with Panchajanya,the former editor of the RSS mouthpiece. And what qualifications does Mr Y Sudershan Rao have to occupy as the Chair of the Indian Council of Historical Research – other than his Hindutva views? Saffronisation seems to be the name of the game across educational spaces.
Education is also the key factor for the upliftment of the marginalized sections of the society. It is perhaps the most critical means of improving the welfare of disadvantaged populations. But the continuous increase of fees and fund cuts has made quality education possible only to a particular section of the society. Due to these extensive budget cuts, it is not possible for the students from the socially deprived sections to pay these huge amounts of fees. And adding oil to the flame, the government has lowered the research fellowships also. The students from the socially backward sections are made to suffer during this BJP regime.
It is the students themselves who should be talking about these issues that affects them during this rule. But even the basic right to hold discussions are being attacked. The attacks on various academic institutions such as the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University, Hyderabad Central University, IIT Madras, FTII Pune are all examples. The Government along with its ‘goonda wing’, the ABVP is trying to suppress all the voices that comes against them. The latest incident that happened in Delhi University’s Ramjas College itself shows how intolerant the ABVP is towards dissent which made them attack even their professors and fellow students. The ABVP even went to the extent of giving rape threats to the girl students who were protesting against them. All these incidents indicates that there is a huge battle laying ahead to regain back our democratic campuses from these saffron forces.
Its high time that the students start acting vehemently against these atrocities. We need to have our ‘Azaadi’ from these neo-fascist forces. The time to reclaim back our spaces in universities from the saffron brigade has come. The slogan of Study and Struggle has to be heard over campuses to ensure quality education, to make our universities democratic again, and to ensure social justice to all sections of the society.
Chalo Delhi, organised by the Students’ Federation of India – SFI, will be a clarion call for the struggles for an alternative policy framework to fight against the current regime of the Modi government which will be projecting the anger that students all over India have towards this anti-student, anti-people governance. Thousands of students from different parts of the country will join the march on 3rd March from Mandi House to Parliament Street fighting against the attacks on education, democracy and social justice and to ensure a pro-student, pro-people new education policy. The time to reclaim our democratic spaces to discuss, debate and dissent has come.
Let the voice of Independence, Democracy and Socialism be heard all over the country…
Yadul Krishna is a left activist and a student of Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi.