March 7, 2009

The battle has been lost, but the fight must go on!

The month-long struggle against privatisation of the campus has finally ended in a sorry defeat, with the JNUSU withdrawing its hunger strike yesterday, despite an overwhelming and active participation of the student community in its initial days. But unlike many retreats and compromises of the JNUSU in the past, this defeat is going to be a historic one, with far-reaching consequences. It is an inexcusable surrender of the leadership to the forces which are trying to weaken the students’ movement for our rights and social justice, apart from clearing the way for privatisation of education and basic facilities in JNU. This struggle moved inevitably towards a fruitless culmination ever since the AISA-led JNUSU compromised on the major demands raised by the student community. Moreover, it demonstrated scant respect for democratic decisions of the students, the leadership trying their best to demobilise the student movement from the path of a militant confrontation with the administration. The JNUSU leadership finally decided to retreat from the site of struggle apparently respecting an appeal by JNUTA. But the real reason behind this surrender was the lack of support from the mass of students, and the predictable treachery of their ‘most reliable’ comrades the SFI. They withdrew from this highly unpopular hunger strike as soon as it was ensured that the rustication orders on the JNUSU leadership will be revoked through JNUTA’s intervention. But it meant that none of the core demands of the struggle is going to be clinched, and we may soon hear about formation of committees to ‘look into’ the demands. Thus, all that this month-long movement has achieved is to stop the commercialisation of PSR, a demand conceded by the administration on 3rd Feb itself. There has been a calculated silence from both AISA and SFI on the demand of removing electric meters, which means that the JNUSU leadership has bought the administration’s lie that the meters will remain merely for some ‘scientific survey’. The demand to roll-back the hiked prospectus price has been thoroughly compromised, and the administration did not budge an inch from its stance except coming up with the dangerous ‘charitable exemption’ for BPL students. This move can very well be the prelude to a differential fee structure in the coming days. We only hope that the JNUSU leadership will at least refrain from claiming this as an ‘achievement’ of the ongoing struggle!

It is by now clear to all that the AISA-led JNUSU was interested in resisting the privatisation moves of the administration only in rhetoric and not in practice. This is similar to the anti-imperialist cries of the parliamentary left who are enthusiastically implementing the same imperialist policies wherever they are in power. By compromising and surrendering on every count, the present JNUSU leadership has conceded not only this movement but also the movements in the coming days which will be fought, if at all, against this very administration! The credibility of the JNUSU is at a historic low, and the responsibility squarely lies on the JNUSU leadership who has repeatedly betrayed the trust and responsibility placed on them by the students of the campus. What was common between the administration and the present JNUSU leadership in the course of the struggle however was the bypassing of democratic bodies and ignoring the aspirations of the student community. The administration had taken the decisions on meter, fee-hike, PSR, ‘beautification’ etc. unilaterally bypassing all the concerned bodies like CDC or IHA and without involving representatives form students and teachers. Similarly, the JNUSU decided on the course of struggle unilaterally, by undermining the UGBM mandate, implementing courses of action which were defeated by the UGBM, bypassing the debates generated in the All-Organisation meetings and undercutting the larger students’ aspiration to confront this authoritarian administration with more assertive forms of protest.

JNUSU leadership and its alliance of opportunism: the AISA-led JNUSU vested its complete faith in their new-found ally SFI, and vehemently attacked voices of dissent and criticism, conveniently forgetting SFI’s commendable history of ‘disassociation’, betrayal and opportunism. It is the same SFI which started with the demand of paralyzing the ad-block in the initial period of the movement, and then took a sly u-turn on the eve of the UGBM. They mouthed the demand of blockade after the UGBM passed it, again to slip away on the eve of the blockade. The AISA-led JNUSU chose to forget all this in the hope that by sticking together they will be able to revoke the rustications. But by running away from the struggle, the SFI has once again assured us that it is an honest and true opportunist, even though it meant leaving AISA high and dry. The other ‘natural ally’ of the JNUSU in the course of this struggle was JNUTA, to the extent that its mere appeals had more weight and importance for the JNUSU leadership than the commands of the students passed through UGBMS. Members of JNUTA came uninvited at midnight and addressed the rally on the eve of the blockade, dissuading the students from going for this confrontation. This was readily agreed to by the JNUSU leadership. Again the JNUTA ‘appealed’ to the JNUSU to withdraw the indefinite hunger strike even before the negotiations began on any of our demands. Such a unilateral withdrawal at the behest of JNUTA has been unprecedented in a JNUSU-led struggle. JNUTA from the beginning has made no commitment in supporting our demands other than expressing its mild protest against rustications. It is not hidden from anyone that the teaching community, with a few honourable exceptions, is whole-heartedly backing the administration’s present privatisation drive. The deplorable role played by the JNUTA a few years back during the struggle to hike MCM amount is still fresh in our memory, when it insisted that the struggle be called-off with a compromise. The struggle rejected such offer and went ahead without the support of the JNUTA, finally winning it with the sole strength of the students. Knowing full well this history, how can JNUSU allow the JNUTA to dictate terms of the students’ movement and be influenced by it, when the TA’s role can at best be advisory? JNUTA is not a neutral body. It has remained closer to the administration than the students. JNUSU leadership’s capitulation to the pressure-tactics of JNUTA and the administration has converted a possible victory to a near-certain defeat, for which it is answerable to the students.

The JNUSU leadership vested their trust on everybody except the students. So pathetic and bankrupt has been AISA-led JNUSU’s politics that it forgot the political nature of the struggle, and tried to evoke a non-existent ‘humanism’ and ‘sympathy’ of the administration through a indefinite hunger strike! The students who came for the long march, boycotted classes for a long time, participated in all other protest actions called by JNUSU, has been left betrayed and angered. But the responsibility of this historic defeat of the ongoing movement will have to be borne by the opportunistic JNUSU leadership, and not by the student community. As Brecht has put it, The defeats and victories of the fellows at the top are not always the defeats and victories of the fellows at the bottom. This is a defeat of the leadership, and its high time that the students of the campus prepare for a fresh round of collective struggle against privatisation

March 4, 2009

The authoritarian administration must be confronted!

The ongoing struggle against the recent wave of privatization in the campus which began with a spirited mass demonstration at the ad-block on 3rd Feb. has entered its second month today. Whereas this struggle had been unparalleled in terms of unprecedented student participation, it has also experienced vacillation and opportunism of the JNUSU leadership in taking the struggle forward for a decisive victory as mandated by the students through the UGBM. It is therefore not surprising that the administration has so far conceded nothing to our demands except scrapping the plan to commercialise PSR. The aggressive and hostile stance of the anti-student and authoritarian administration again came to light yesterday when it came up with yet another circular to justify its moves of privatization as well as its disciplinary action on the protesting students! It vilified the ongoing movement against privatization by claiming that it is based on mere rumors! As if the electricity meters, the hiked fees, the commercialized PSR, the mushrooming constructions and installations are all figments of imagination! As if thousands of protesting students are engaged in a bitter struggle with the administration for ‘baseless issues’!

On the demand of removing electric meters from Koyena Hostel, the administration reiterated its ‘decision’ of not levying ‘user charges’. But they have also mentioned that electricity consumption is rising and they need to carry out ‘scientific survey’ to measure that! The questions remain, what is the point of installing meters in individual rooms to know the amount of net electricity consumption? The Presidents of two other hostels were also told about the installations of meters in their hostels. What is the extent of their ‘scientific survey’? And what if after doing a round of survey, the administration scientifically decides to levy user charges from the students? Moreover, the administration initially planned to charge students for consumption of electricity beyond a certain level, but this plan was quickly shelved as a result of the mass discontent and anger the meters have generated among the students. The protest against installation of electricity meters was strongly registered right from the start, because the students vest NO trust on this administration which is giving the argument that ‘JNU students are prosperous’ in every possible public forum, thereby exposing their real intention behind installing meters in hostels. And why does the administration want to do a survey of the cost of electricity consumed by the students, whereas their enormous unaccounted extravagant expenditure remains unmonitored? This is nothing but the first step towards charging students for electricity in the coming days.

For fee hike of prospectus even the administration admits that the issue remains unaddressed. It claimed that the fee hike was recommended by a committee ‘duly constituted comprising some members of the Standing Committee on admissions’! This particular committee that the administration is referring to was however formed unilaterally by the administration; its formation was not discussed in any democratic platforms. More dangerously, the minutes of its meetings revealed that they had recommended the increase of the amount of entrance examination fees along with increasing the fee of the prospectus! The administration for this year chose to stick to only one of the several reactionary and anti-student recommendations it had made! That the administration, as an extension of the anti-people and autocratic state apparatus, is going on implementing pro-market policies in the campus one after another, is no surprise. This administration headed by the VC is an assembly of crooks that profess neo-liberal economic policies, and for whom the students of JNU, its past and the present hardly matter. Their agenda is to shape the future of JNU and its students in a particular mould. Unless they are kicked out of their positions of power, the misdeeds of the thieves in the Pink Palace will lead JNU to a socially alienated, privatized and corporate-friendly enclave, where only the privileged will have a right to entry! The students know the gravity of this challenge to defend the present and future of JNU; its time that the JNUSU leadership lives up to the occasion.

A few old questions and fresh reminders to the JNUSU leadership: When the desperation and high-handedness of the administration is becoming more and more evident posing ever new threats, is this struggle led towards the right direction? The struggle started with unprecedented students’ participation and very pointed demands against privatization. Despite the massive students’ support and UGBM mandate the leadership refrained from going into more assertive forms of struggle like paralyzing the ad-block by blockading its entrances. It chose not to go into any concrete protest actions when students were with them, even after the negotiations failed! Rather they championed a course of action which was defeated in the UGBM and with a handful 30-40 students tried to stop the sell of prospectus at a late stage of the struggle. Right after which, they championed another defeated resolution by going for indefinite hunger strike, which still continues.

Was the JNUSU leadership trying to avoid ‘coercive tactics’ and ‘disciplinary action’ from the administration by not going for a blockade? Administration however did take action even when they were merely trying to stop the sell of prospectus, proving that the administration has outsmarted JNUSU leadership in strategy. And now in yesterday’s circular the administration is calling even the hunger strike a ‘coercive tactic’! The point is, the administration will deem any course of action which genuinely challenges privatization as ‘coercive’ and will repress! De-escalation of the spirit and participation of students by JNUSU leadership apprehending reactions from the administration has diluted this crucial fight, not only in the mass participation but also in its aims and objectives, resulting in frustration and desperation among the common students, a reflection of which was witnessed today when a student threatened to jump from the 8th floor of library if our demands were not met. The JNUSU leadership has already retreated from demanding removal of electric meters, and now with more prospectuses getting sold each day and its closing date coming nearer, any possibility of JNUSU forcing the administration to roll-back fee-hike seems grim! The only issue to the current phase of the ongoing struggle emerges to be the revocation of rustications. Fighting the disciplinary action undoubtedly is extremely crucial, but if the entire struggle gets reduced to it, giving up on all other crucial demands, it will open up floodgates for privatization in the future, and will irreparably damage the credibility of JNUSU and the progressive student movement of JNU! The administration is determined to sell-off JNU. Only a principled, militant and collective struggle of the students can stop it!


February 28, 2009

Remembering Com. Naveen Babu...

“Silence!
Here sleeps my brother.
Don’t stand by him
with a pale face and a sad heart.
For, he is laughter!
Don’t cover his body with flowers,
what is the use of adding flowers to a flower?

If you can,bury him in your heart.
You will find
at the twitterings of the bird of the heart,
your sleeping soul has woken up.
If you can,
shed some tears.
and -
all the blood of your body…”
-from an anonymous poem written on the walls of Presidency Jail, Calcutta, during the Naxalbari uprising.

It was a revolutionary transformation of an ordinary student, from an A.P. village, who came to the capital city with high ambitions, into a guerrilla fighter of the revolutionary people’s war. That was the transformation of Naveen into Balakrishna. Starting his journey on the revolutionary path from JNU in late 1980s, Naveen embraced Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and within a decade reached the peaks of the Eastern Ghats at Darakonda, to lay down his life during an exchange of fire with the fascist Andhra Pradesh police on February 18, 2000.

Com. Naveen was in a village in Krishna district of Andhra in a middle peasant family. He completed his graduation in Hyderabad and joined M.A. Sociology in Meerut University in 1984. In 1986 he joined M.Phil course in Sociology in JNU, and after completing his dissertation in 1988 he joined Ph.D. Naveen formed the Student’s Forum, which stood for the exposure of the SFI’s politics of compromise in JNU. In 1986, the Delhi Radical Students Organisation (DRSO) was formed. In 1988 he joined the DRSO, and made it a force to reckon with in the campus. Com. Naveen was a revolutionary students’ leader who aspired to rejuvenate radical ideology in the university. He put in untiring efforts to build an all India revolutionary student movement and made himself and his room the centre for the revolutionary student movement in Delhi. He not only took part in every student movement at the JNU, the Delhi University and other colleges but also participated in programmes and activities organised outside the campus. Naveen not only countered the neo-colonial theories of the earlier leaders and thereby defend the political line of the DRSO, he also actively supported the right of self-determination of the nationality struggles, bringing DRSO close to the students of Kashmir and the North-East.

In 1989, when Delhi became the centre for the upper caste anti-Mandal mania, the DRSO swam against the tide, supporting reservations for the OBCs. When there were vacillations even amongst the revolutionary ranks, Naveen stood like a rock, patiently explaining the necessity for DRSO to support reservations, thereby drawing it closer to the oppressed sections. Since 1990, Naveen became a professional revolutionary. He left JNU in 1992 discontinuing his Ph.D to join a law course at the Delhi University (DU) in 1993. In 1990 itself, he represented DRSO in the all-India student body, AIRSF, taking responsibility for editing the student magazine KALAM. Naveen played an outstanding role at the International seminar on nationality struggles which was held in February ’96. The seminar, held under the auspices of the AIPRF played a key role in linking the class struggle with the nationality struggles, giving birth to the CCNDM - Coordination Committee of Struggles of Nationalities and Democratic Movements. This effort of Com. Naveen remains as a strong bridge between the revolutionary and nationality movements. As a part of this effort he clearly explained the process of emergence of class and revolutionary struggles in India to the representatives who came from different countries of the world. Particularly he accompanied the world famous intellectual, William Hinton, when he travelled to many places in India and hel ped him understand the movements going on in those places. In 1994-95, for the first time Naveen visited Balaghat district in order to understand the Adivasi movement in DK and the growth of Guerilla Zones.

With a pleasing personality, an affectionate behaviour, a microscopic analytical methodology, a role model living style, and with a continuous study of world literature for establishing socialism of which he dreamt, Com. Naveen never got tired of sharing his knowledge with friends and tirelessly sought to win over intellectuals to the side of revolution. With all these qualities he emerged as a role model for students and youth. Com. Naveen was known for his simple living habits and forth rightness. He was always ready to make honest self-criticism, showing an eagerness and sincerity to rectify mistakes. He always stood for taking up things critically, not blindly. He stood for fighting against wrong ideas, come what may. He was for principled fight, without any liberalism. Com. Naveen stood for the unity of words and deeds, theory and practice. He was an intellectual, in the tradition of martyrs Christopher Caudwell, David Guest, who laid down their lives in the Spanish Civil War, or Chaganti Bhaskar Rao martyred in the forests of Srikakulam. Com. Naveen blended his pen with the gun and laid down his life fighting the brutal Indian state for a new society free of exploitation and oppression.

RED SALUTE TO COM. NAVEEN!

Fight for revocation of the rustication and out-of-bound orders! Intensify the struggle against electric meters, fee hike, for social justice!

Yesterday the administration came down heavily with iron fist on five protesting students who were handpicked and summarily rusticated. No time to show-cause, no enquiry seemed necessary, because they were part of a JNUSU-led struggle against privatisation of this campus. It lays bare the real face of this autocratic administration and its design to privatise the campus by using all possible means at their disposal! Administration’s desperate act to strangulate this movement is similar to the way any organ of the ruling class clamps down to suppress people’s resistance. It is happening everywhere; let us be in no illusion that JNU administration is an exception. The administration wants to pursue the JNU of their dreams, where prosperous students buy their education and basic facilities and where they do not protest. They are clearly setting a standard for us to which we have to comply! And comply silently without any resistance. This is their definition of a ‘disciplined student’. It doesn’t matter to the administration the legacy the students of JNU uphold, the history of resistance we cherish and the collective spirit that students have shown in the face of privatisation moves by the administration! The history of the students’ movement of the campus is not a concern for the force which wants to determine our future in its own terms, on its own image! This is how the administration is strengthening the forces against the campus from outside: be it privatisation or Lyngdoh.

But should we go down without a fight? Clearly we have no other option but to uncompromisingly fight this battle tooth and nail. JNU students have repeatedly fought past moves of privatisation and commercialization, along with the repressions that followed as a result. Students of this university have fought to keep the fee structure low, resisted self-financed courses, resisted the hiked fee of prospectus and drafts, stopped the introduction of communal courses like yogic-science and astrology, stopped corporate funding in some schools, forced the removal of the monopoly outlet of Nestle, ensured minimum wages of workers on this campus. This time too, we have to fight to win, because what is at stake is our right to democratic education, right to dissent, right to subsidized basic facilities and social justice.

This authoritarian administration cannot be fought by undermining the students and their mandate. When the campus and its students’ movement is facing unprecedented onslaught from outside, we must be steadfast in our vigilance and critique against any subversion or compromise from within. This movement started with very concrete demands, and its course of action was set by the UGBM after much debate. It is a cause of grave concern that the JNUSU leadership is repeatedly disrespecting both the basic demands and the UGBM mandate, thereby helping the administration’s in its draconian moves. They have given up on the very crucial demand of removal of electric meters from Koyena hostel, citing dubious ‘advancements’ where there clearly aren’t any! Removal of the meters, not the mere suspension of ‘user charges’, is the overwhelming demand of the student community even now. In addition, JNUSU leadership (with extraordinary understanding and coordination between AISA and SFI) is repeatedly deciding on courses of action which were rejected by the UGBM, such as ‘stopping of the sale of prospectus forms’, ‘indefinite hunger strike’, etc. They have so far bypassed the resolution of blockading the ad-block, which was passed in the UGBM. In the days after this historic UGBM, AISA-led JNUSU managed to de-escalate and demobilize the movement so much, that the unprecedented and massive participation of thousands of students were reduced to 30-40 students on the day the selling of prospectus was stopped yesterday. Thus, this fight to defend the democratic ethos of the campus is ironically being fought by undermining the UGBM and its mandate, the highest and most democratic body of students. It shows the lack of integrity and commitment of the leadership to democratic values, and their lack of resolve to take this movement to a more assertive and logical stage.

Two days back, 722 students signed an open letter to the president of JNUSU with an appeal to respect the UGBM mandate, recognise the demand of removal of electric meters, and intensify the ongoing struggle by going for a blockade of the ad block. However, the decision of stopping of prospectus-sale yesterday and the hunger strike today reflects unilateralism and undemocratic functioning on the part of JNUSU Council. It has overturned the UGBM mandate and continues to impose a course of action on students which has already been rejected. DSU recognizes the need to collectively face the present onslaught on JNUSU and stand by it, but do not agree with the indefinite hunger strike as a mode of protest at this stage as it goes against the course of action decided in the last UGBM. In the last All Organization meeting, DSU and other organisations except AISA and SFI rejected the hunger strike, and since there was no consensus it was left to the JNUSU Council to decide, which predictably decided on an indefinite hunger strike. However, we are left with no other option but to stand by a JNUSU leadership that has compromised and betrayed decisions and aspirations of the students repeatedly during this movement at this crucial juncture in order to collectively fight the high-handed administration.

It is not that all students who came down to the street in such huge numbers a week back, came to the UGBM, boycotted classes for many days and participated in all the course of actions in large numbers to resist the drives of privatisation, have now lost interest! It is a matter that concerns each and every student of this university, for now and in the days to come. The issue of installation of electric meters or fee hike and rustication of protesting students are not in isolation, but are just the initial manifestation of larger assaults of privatisation and throttling of voices of dissent against it. Let us continue our fight to reclaim our university and our democratic culture!

February 26, 2009

DSU initiated a signature campaign in which 722 students signed an Open Letter to the JNUSU President demanding that the JNUSU uphold the mandate passed by the UGBM, respect the course of action decided therein, and therefore give a call for blockading the ad-block till all the demands are fulfilled, including the (1) Removal of electric meters from Koyena Hostel, (2) Complete roll-back of the hiked prospectus fee. The JNUSU must not betray the aspirations of the entire student community and must not retreat from this crucial struggle against privatization.

The text of the Open Letter is as follows:

"The ongoing struggle against privatization and for social justice led by JNUSU has failed to achieve two of its major demands:

1. Removal of electric meters from Koyena hostel. The installation of the electric meters is a systematic way to ensure the privatization of basic facilities. The mere assurances from the administration not to take user charges (which was their position even before the movement started) is just an eye wash to deter this movement and the JNUSU unfortunately is trying to sell the same logic. By keeping the electric meters the administration is keeping full scope for levying user charges in the future at their discretion, and no ‘written agreement’ with the JNUSU can stop them.
2. Complete roll-back of the hiked prospectus fee. The matter of the hiked price of the prospectus has not been addressed by the administration at all. Instead by talking about fee waiver for BPL students they have given clear indications to bring differential fee structure in JNU in the future.

We the undersigned students believe that no significant outcome has resulted from the many rounds of negotiations so far with the administration, unlike what the JNUSU is claiming currently. We apprehend that the leadership is heading towards a compromise with this corrupt, authoritarian administration, rather than confronting it. Therefore we demand to the JNUSU leadership:

1. To uphold the resolution passed in the UGBM and go for the blockading of the ad-block.
2. To take the ongoing struggle to its logical conclusion – of fulfilling all the demands which have not been achieved."


Let us not surrender before the fight is over! Resist any attempt to reduce this Crucial Struggle into mere Tokenism!!

Some organisations are spreading rumours about ‘achievements’ of the movement. But if we go by the reporting by the JNUSU leadership in All-Organisation meetings and their pamphlets, the electric meters will NOT be removed from the hostels. The administration has merely agreed not to take ‘user charges’ for the time-being, a declaration made three weeks back. People who believe that the administration is indeed investing so much money to do ‘survey of consumption’ are either fooling themselves or fooling others. And the JNUSU has simply given up on this extremely crucial demand of removing the meters, and is thereby facilitating the installation of meters in all the hostels in the coming days. With such an opportunistic approach, this fight against systematic privatisation of basic facilities in JNU is bound to get compromised right at the beginning! If the meters are installed, JNU is going to be the FIRST public university in this country where students will be charged for electricity separately. So much for our much-proclaimed historic legacy of fighting liberalization and privatisation! The sell of prospectus with a hiked price has also been going on for almost a month across the country and through postage. The proposal by AISA-SFI led JNUSU Council to stop the prospectus counter at such a late stage is a mere tokenism, which is too little too late in the name of fighting fee hike. In this stage maximum pressure should have been put on the administration to make them yield to our very pointed demands. Instead only the continuing JNU students and other students from the vicinity will be harassed by not letting them buy the forms. In our opinion this course of action shows a completely misplaced priority at this crucial stage of struggle. Instead of making the administration yield to all the demands, such tokenism is just a face saving device for the JNUSU leadership.

How democratic ethos got compromised in this struggle by the undemocratic JNUSU leadership. After the Long March of 10 Feb, when no consensus was reached for the future course of action, the students went for a UGBM, which is the highest decision making body of the students and whose mandate is binding on the JNUSU. The UGBM gave a concrete roadmap of struggle to blockade the ad-block and put maximum pressure on the obstinate administration. The JNUSU leadership however permanently withheld the decision to blockade the ad-block, and have now come up with a very different course of action. In the following AO meeting, after being pressurized by the rest of the organizations the decision to put blockade in abeyance was made a time-bound one, till the negotiations fail. The negotiations failed after four days. Yet the leadership took it to their discretion to say that since ‘the material conditions have changed the UGBM mandate stands null and void’! In the All Organisation meeting too, it is only AISA who advocated against the UGBM mandate; SFI maintained a convenient and well calculated silence while all the rest of the organisations pressurized the JNUSU to uphold the mandate. Since no consensus was emerging due to the AISA-SFI’s alliance to subvert the movement, they took it to the Council where SFI-AISA can work on their own, maintaining their newfound harmony! In a most opportunist way, they chose to implement a course of action that has been defeated by the UGBM, to only stop the sale of prospectus. Is this not a complete undermining of the democratic practices which the students’ movement in this campus has always upheld?

The university and student movement is going through a very critical phase. The stay order on students’ union election and the drive to privatize are not unconnected from each other. The need to gradually privatize universities, to turn education into a commodity which can be bought by the few who can afford it are all in the recommendations of the Birla-Ambani Report on higher education, a number of reports on education in India by the World Bank, the report of the Knowledge Commission etc. Students’ movement, as argued and identified by these forces, is the prime impediment on the way of privatisation. This argument has its merits. In JNU itself earlier drives of privatisation were resisted only by vigilant and assertive struggles by students. The forces which are hell bent on withdrawing the subsidy from education and basic facilities of students are the same ones which are trying to scuttle students’ movements and elections. They are the same agents of neo-liberal economic policies which are grabbing lands from peasants to make capital-intensive industries, selling the natural resources to imperialist forces, trying to turn the country into a Special Exploitation Zone.

And JNU is no island! The repeated statement by the VC that JNU students are ‘prosperous’ is a dangerous prelude to his further designs. His show of ‘charity’ by exempting the BPL students from paying for the prospectus adds to that. It is the clear signal to bring differential fee structure and to charge the basic facilities. The money of poor tax payers of this country can be invested in his ‘beautification’ drives, while ‘prosperous JNU students’ should manage their own education and well being! In the face of these multi-pronged attacks, what the JNUSU leadership chose to do is to completely concede before even trying to lead the fight! They tried to diffuse the unprecedented students’ unity and participation in this movement and undermined the mandate by the UGBM!

We will yet again reinstate our demands to the JNUSU leadership not to abandon or compromise in this extremely crucial fight against privatisation but to intensify the struggle to nip the designs of the administration right in its bud. Otherwise they will be equally responsible in ‘the attack on the soul of JNU'!

There can be No Retreat, No Compromise! We must Win this Battle!!

Tonight we enter into a more intensified stage of the ongoing battle! A battle with the corrupt, insensitive and authoritarian administration which is hell bent on privatising the university. This battle has to be clinched by us, before the administration wins it and succeeds in realizing their dream of turning this university into a corporate enclave.

The lies and insensitivity of the administration simply knows no bounds. In today’s newspapers the VC has given statements that JNU students are provided with ‘unlimited water and electricity’, that the number ‘of cars and bikes in front of hostels’ are a real proof that students are not from marginalized sections and that ‘90% of JNU students receive fellowships’! The VC, no wonder, sees what he wants to see. So the unlimited water that is sprinkled on his rose gardens in the summer when all the hostels remain dry is the only thing he can see. The students who own bikes and cars are the only students he’ll recognize and will try to justify his drives to privatisation at their cost! It is this same administration which had denied the full implementation of 27% OBC reservation. It required a forceful students’ struggle to force this same administration to hike the meagre amount of MCM. And the students who receive any kind of scholarship or fellowship (whose number is far less than 90%) knows how much harassment they have to face in the finance office every time. We remind Mr. VC and his coterie that the subsidized facilities that students have been receiving in this university since its inception is not a gift or show of charity from the administration but is a basic right of every student in this institution. Subsidy in education is being withdrawn in other universities as a ploy of the imperialist forces to privatise education and reduce it into a marketable commodity. Such designs have failed in the past in JNU because there has always been a thriving and vigilant students’ movement. The standard of its socially inclusive character and equitable education has to be defended and expanded rather than destroyed, as is being done by the present administration!

And all that ‘glitters’ is not JNU: it is not the pointless plasma TV, the ugly hoardings, the corporate parties in PSR, the flower pots, the electric meters, the costlier prospectus, mindless deforestation and construction which constitutes of JNU. Neither should it be the insensitivity of the administration, their shameless audacity to deny reservation over and over again, their rampant corruption, their boundless authoritarianism that should determine the nature and future of JNU. This university belongs to us. The socially sensitive, socially inclusive and democratic character that we have built over years has to be reclaimed from the handful of corporate-friendly dictators. This is a historic juncture for JNU, and everything that JNU has stood for is at stake today. The success or failure of the ongoing movement will determine how the future JNU will be. And the strength of the movement is us, the students of the campus. So join the protest march in large numbers that will culminate into a mass sit-in. With this peaceful form of protest, and by our collective strength of numbers and unity, we will defeat any attempts to repress or sabotage it

The Administration is Crumbling, Let’s Fight for the Final Victory!

The unprecedented mass upsurge of the students of JNU against privatisation and for social justice poured out to the streets to express the collective anger against the anti-student and undemocratic decisions of the administration. Today’s demonstration once again showed that the student community of JNU is not ready to accept these autocratic pro-corporate policies lying down. The administration made all arrangements to keep the thousands of protesting students out of ad-block: mobilizing large numbers of Group 4 guards, police, barricades. The ad-block was turned into a war-zone by the administration, but the students made sure that the administration faced a crushing defeat in the first round of this battle. Now comes the crucial moment of winning the war tomorrow. The only excuse that the administration has given today while talking to JNUSU is that of vice-chancellor’s absence from the city. It therefore becomes crucial for another mass student gathering at Ad block tomorrow morning and to make successful the second day of total strike to clinch our demands.

The strength and victory of our movement is in large number of students’ participation with a relentless and uncompromising struggle. Tomorrow’s total university strike and mass gathering is much more than an extension of today’s agitation, it is the moment to reclaim JNU. It is not a matter of a single day, it is tomorrow that will decide the future of JNU, whether this university will be for the students, for a socially-responsible and democratic education, or will remain in the hands of a few ‘dalals’ of neo-liberalism who will continue to sell the campus and its resources to corporates. We must unite and strengthen JNUSU at this crucial juncture. It is a historic moment for students’ movement in JNU. We are very near to a victorious culmination of the ongoing struggle, and we must once again show this authoritarian administration that JNU is not their fiefdom, JNU hamara hai!

“The defeats and victories of the fellows at the top aren't always defeats and victories for the fellows at the bottom.” -Brecht

The present struggle against privatisation is heading for yet another shameful compromise. This struggle started with unprecedented enthusiasm and participation of the students. But there is a general feeling that this struggle too is now heading towards a compromised end of which we have lots of precedence in the recent past. It is a sheer failure of the AISA-SFI led JNUSU to respect the students’ participation and concede to the corrupt and authoritarian administration, rather than taking the struggle to its logical conclusion through a more assertive form of struggle as mandated by the last UGBM.

What is being compromised by JNUSU leadership, and how? After more than ten days of spirited struggle the JNUSU has yesterday come up with a list of ‘achievements’! JNUSU is now claiming that all issues other than the fee hike of prospectus has been ‘clinched’. Much of its claims however are misplaced and misrepresented. The fact that the circular to rent out PSR will be rolled back was ensured by the administration after the 10 Feb Long March itself. Therefore it can not be flaunted as a ‘victory’ now to call off the current phase of the movement. Similarly, on the day of the Long March itself the Rector 2 agreed to give in writing that the administration will not take ‘user charges’, but maintained that they will not remove the meters. The fact that the movement went into a UGBM to decide future course of action was because the students did not accept these ‘solutions’ from the administration. The student community unambiguously demanded the meters to be removed from Koyena, and was resilient to the installation of the same in any other hostels. All know that the installation of meters is a systematic way to ensure privatization of basic facilities. And the administration in all possible public forums had justified the imposition of user charges giving the rubbish logic of ‘prosperous JNU’! Thus their mere assurances not to take user charges now are just an eye-wash to deter this movement, and the JNUSU unfortunately is now trying to sell the same logic of the administration to the students. The matter of fee hike has not been addressed by the administration at all. Rather they put forward this extremely dangerous argument of offering ‘fee waiver for BPL students’, thereby implying that all other students can afford the hiked prices of the prospectus. Isn’t this a prior indication to bring differential fee structure in JNU? And by keeping the electric meters the administration is keeping full scope for levying user charges in near future whenever they feel like it, and no ‘written agreement’ with JNUSU can stop them. The JNUSU leadership is either fooling themselves in vesting faith on them. Or more dangerously, they are acting as a stooge of the administration in materializing their designs of privatization.

They are arguing to stop the sell of the forms now, which is just a face saving device for both AISA and SFI. The argument given by AISA and SFI in yesterday’s all-organization meeting to stop selling of forms from the JNU counter now as the only course of action is a mere eyewash and a face saving device to pretend ‘radicalism’ after they have conceded the entire movement. As many people have argued in the past too, it is too late to be an effective action, when forms are being sold every day all over the country since past one moth. The possibility of the symbolic message that would have gone had this counter been stopped earlier is also gone since considerable time has been lost. Who buys forms from the JNU counter are mostly the continuing JNU students and few others from Delhi. They will be the only target of the struggle now, as in our assessment this will effectively put no pressure on this insensitive administration. In the proposal of blockading the ad-clock also the form counter would have been stopped but along with that the entire ad-block would have been paralysed too. The effect of such a pressure would have been much more on all the negotiations. The JNUSU leadership did not even try to confront the administration despite so much of students’ support before surrendering to them completely. This movement was unprecedented on the count of the students’ participation and a concrete roadmap mandated by the students in the UGBM. The leadership however is now conveniently trying to champion a defeated resolution of the UGBM where just the stopping of prospectus sale was proposed by SFI, rather than the one that was passed, thereby undermining the aspirations and the participation of the students. They therefore contributed rather than countering the undermining of the democratic space within this university. They scuttled the voice of the common students as much as the administration did!

A dress rehearsal for the upcoming elections in Bihar! The current bonhomie between the AISA and SFI leadership to sideline the common students who had consistently been in this movement comes as no surprise! It is a clear alliance of opportunism and compromise. SFI historically has never taken a strong stand against privatization inside and outside the campus, be it on the issue of removing the monopoly outlet of Nestle or in justifying corporate land grab in the name of SEZ! AISA also currently is in no position to take a strong stand, since their masters CPI(ML) Liberation are joining hands with the social fascist CPI(M) in Bihar in the upcoming parliament elections, the same CPI(M) who perpetrated the Nandigram massacre, the rape and murder of Tapasi Malik, the murder of Rizwanur, and in whose name AISA garnered votes in the last JNUSU elections. This is the magic of the farce called parliamentary democracy in India, and what we see in JNU is a mere fractional reflection of the same.

DSU appeals to the student community to force the JNUSU to abandon the path of compromised tokenism in the name of fighting privatization. We cannot allow the JNUSU leadership to betray the aspirations of the students and their mandate in the UGBM in this crucial juncture. JNUSU must uncompromisingly fight the corrupt and authoritarian administration and their designs to privatize the university, rather than claiming false victories.

“When the masses are not with you and you act, it is adventurism. When the masses are with you and you do not act it is real opportunism.” -Mao

The ongoing struggle against the drives to gradual privatisation of the university has reached a critical stage now. The demands of this movement had been so straight forward that either they can be clinched, or the movement fails. There is no scope for middle grounds this time. No space for maneuvering or committees. And this fight is an extremely important fight as it is not just about electric meters in one hostel, hiked price of prospectus, commercialization of PSR or OBC and PH reservation only. This is a fight to retain and reclaim JNU. A fight to uncompromisingly stall the efforts of privatisation before it engulfs the entire campus. A fight to ensure that JNU remains a socially inclusive, democratic institution which can organically accommodate students coming from even the most backward regions or social strata. And the direct adversary in this fight is the mindless, authoritarian administration whose only motive is to destroy the current socially inclusive character of JNU and reduce it to a corporate enclave, where education along with all the basic facilities are turned into commodities.

And the role of the JNUSU leadership so far in this struggle has been disappointing the AISA led JNUSU right form the start was determined to deescalate the spirit of the unprecedented students’ participation in this movement by proposing an indefinite hunger strike as the future course of action. They claimed that any other more assertive forms of protest will give ‘moral and political legitimacy’ to the JNU administration and negotiations will be difficult after that! As if this authoritarian and completely sold out administration cares for any legitimacy! Will the administration that threatened, misbehaved and did not even bother to recognize JNUSU’s legitimacy, will come down to a negotiating table unless it is sufficiently pressurized? The UGBM gave a complete rebuff to JNUSU and AISA’s proposal to go for hunger strike and other milder non-confrontational forms of struggle and gave a clear mandate to blockade the ad-block if negotiations fail beyond a certain time. SFI which started off with a call to ‘paralyse the ad-block’ and requisitioned for the UGBM on the same demand, conveniently made a compete u-turn on the day of the UGBM. It again returned to its earlier ‘radical’ pretension once the students mandated and upheld the demand for the more assertive form of protest of blockading the ad-block! And it shifted its position once again when the negotiations have virtually failed and according to the UGBM mandate its binding on the JNUSU to take the movement in this higher form. No surprises there! Their pretentious ‘war cries’ not withstanding, who will believe in their so-called fight against privatisation, when they have blatantly justified Nestle in JNU or corporate land grab and all other moves of liberalisation and privatisation elsewhere? The logic given by AISA and SFI for not going into this more assertive form of protest is that students are not yet ready!

What more can a common student possibly do? What made this particular movement stand out from all other movements in the past is by the sheer magnitude of students’ participation. Although the VC out of his utter desperation called the students ‘outsiders’ it was the JNU students who pro-actively and enthusiastically took part in large number in the protest demonstration of 3rd February, held parallel hostel GBMs and passed unanimous resolutions against the drives of privatisation, took part in the most vibrant and largest march of JNU’s recent history, came back in large numbers for a protest demonstration the next day, spontaneously took part in the mess campaign after the negotiations failed, participated and debated the matter in the UGBM which continued till seven in the morning, gave a mandate for the future course of action, observed two days of university strike with unprecedented spontaneity, boycotted classes for continuous three days often braving the threats form the teachers, took part in another march in large numbers, came to the ad-block early morning again in large numbers… What else can they possibly do to register their support for this movement?
The mode of protest that was upheld in the UGBM was NOT any coercive move. It was simply human blockading of the entry points of the ad-block to stop any body from entering, till the administration yields to our demands. This is to put maximum possible pressure on this absolutely arrogant and dictatorial administration which is otherwise not ready to budge even an inch from its position of privatizing the university.

What we stand to lose is more than this fight alone. The JNUSU leadership in its current status is on the verge of disrespecting the spirit of this movement. The large participation of students in every form of struggle in this movement had reflected the faith that the students had vested on JNUSU. And by compromising yet again with the administration, by not taking the struggle to a logical conclusion they are only betraying that faith and strengthening the designs of the administration. The JNUSU will also irrecoverably lose the trust of the student community. The VC has said in too many forums that the only impediment in realizing his dream of turning JNU into a ‘world class university’ is students’ politics. He obviously speaks the typical language of the World Bank. And we know too well by now the real character of the JNU of his ‘dreams’! The role of the JNUSU leadership far from countering boldly such designs is rather strengthening it. Their reluctance to implement the mandate of the UGBM equally sabotages the hard earned democratic ethos and practices of JNU. Along with this particular struggle, which in itself is extremely important, what we shall lose is the legitimacy of JNUSU in all the struggles in the coming days. Similarly the high handedness of the administration will also win along with its drives of privatisation, if we lose this battle!

Now that the negotiations have failed in yielding any positive outcome, we insist that the JNUSU leadership give a call of a blockade of as mandated by the UGBM to meet our demands of removing the electric meters from Koyena hostel, complete roll back of the hiked prospectus fee, scrapping the plan of PSR commercialization, full implementation of OBC and PH reservation. A retreat from any of these demands will be termed as a compromise and betrayal of the ongoing movement against privatisation. Let us also remind the JNUSU leadership that the victory of the leaders is always the victory of the masses. But the defeat of the leadership is not always the defeat of the masses!

Let us Barricade the Ad-Block!

The UGBM tonight is not only to decide the future course of the ongoing movement against privatization, but to decide the future character of JNU itself. We must not shy away from taking the authoritarian administration head-on by taking the movement forward and to a higher form.
The VC said all those who walked in the long march were hired form outside! He also said the JNUSU is distributing free food to allure people to protests! Surely the language of market is the only thing the VC and his stooges understand! That’s why he can’t understand why the students in this campus fought against Nestle and for the minimum wages of the workers, why can’t students appreciate his mindless ‘beautification’ and considers it to be shameful wastage of public money, why students protest against the rise of the price of prospectus, why they demand the implementation of reservation, why they want Alimiyat Fazilat certificates to be recognized, why they refuse to pay separate electricity bills, why they object when PSR is being commercialized!

Because in his vision of the ‘World Class University’ these are no issues! In the University of his dreams students do not protest at all. They just remain as isolated atomized individuals who quietly study the courses he offers. In his university students will have to buy their education and basic facilities as well! And that is why the VC and his stooges do not belong to this university!

The university community of JNU understands the language of people and struggle. We would like to remind the VC and his coterie, that it is this university and JNUSU which remained functional even when the entire nation came at a stand still in the wake of the emergency, or stopped the then Prime Minister from entering the campus. It is this university which gave safe shelter to hundreds of Sikhs during the 1984 riots. The students of this university, have stood by people’s movements time and again in various places. They have also taken part in people’s movements themselves and have even got martyred.

Within the university also students have fought against privatization, the introduction of self-financed courses, the introduction of communalized and reactionary courses like astrology and yogic science, fought for the construction of new hostels, struggled to enhance MCM, threw out the monopoly outlet of Nestle, fought to ensure minimum wages of the workers, fought to implement reservation and so on. And apart from these well known struggles there are also many initiatives every day by unknown students in various levels to make this university a better, a more democratic and humane space to live. Such silent struggles, unregistered initiatives make this university a better home for thousands of students, teachers, karamcharis and workers every day.

And that is precisely what the VC and his stooges seek to destroy. Because what drives them is the neo-liberal economic policies. Which apart from destroying also dehumanizes! Which along with oppressing also ensures repression of any voice for democracy or voices of protests that demand for basic facilities of students, equality in education or social justice!

And thus we are in a historic juncture. The administration has refused to budge an inch even after thousands of students marched on the streets protesting against the installation of electric meters, the commercialization of PSR or the hiked prices of the prospectus. They can not possibly move from their position as they are tied down to immense corruption themselves. And should we succumb to the situation even after thousands of us have come down to the streets together. This struggle has already moved to a peak of students’ mobilization and participation. The next step can only be to move ahead in the same spirit and barricade the ad bloc. As the next step of this movement, let us resolve not to allow anybody to enter the ad bloc and function till they withdraw these moves to privatise the university. This university is ours, and let us decide to take the movement to a higher form.

Any retreat from this point of the struggle will be pushing the ball to the administration’s court again. Any reduction from this participatory stage of the struggles by reducing it to a few people sitting on indefinite hunger strike will be detrimental to the unprecedented spirit of this mass movement and will be a compromise with its militant essence. We have a historic necessity to barricade the administration which is systematically trying to sell and destroy the university, our university. Let us try and strike at them to clinch not only the ongoing struggles but also all the fights in the days to come. If we compromise or retreat this time, we stand to lose not only our present struggle but our past legacy and the future too

February 16, 2009

Intensify the ongoing struggle against privatization! Make the administration dysfunctional until our demands are met!

After yesterday’s JNUSU council meeting and today’s all-organization meeting, it has been decided to observe a two-day total university strike on Monday and Tuesday, giving ample time to the administration for negotiations, failing which, the students would have no other option but to undertake a mass sit-in to make the Administrative block dysfunctional. The administration is bent on destroying the very foundations of the university, and force its policies of privatization of campus spaces. The administration has so far turned a deaf ear to the protest by thousands of students, forcing us to go into a more decisive agitation. At this historic juncture, it is our collective responsibility to take the movement to a higher form and participate with all our strengths in the course of action decided in the UGBM. The struggle is not just about a Rs.80 increase in the prospectus fee, electric meters in hostels, or commercialization of the PSR. It is part of the larger fight against the neo-liberal agenda of privatization of our education and commercialization of campus, against making our education available only to a few sections of the rich, who can afford to buy education in the market.

The UGBM on 12th February to decide the course of action in the ongoing agitation against privatization of campus resolved to undertake a stronger, militant and more concrete action in order to channelize the unprecedented spirit of the students against privatization. The resolution that was passed in the UGBM made it clear that students were against reducing the momentum that had been built during the demonstrations at ad block on 3rd or the long march on the10th of February and the subsequent protests. Instead, the students, realizing the immediacy of the issues and the administration’s arrogant, deceitful, non-responsive reaction to this mass mobilization, gave their mandate to making the administration dysfunctional until all our demands were met.

This campus has consistently fought against previous attempts by the administration to privatize campus spaces and commodify education through fee hikes, corporate funding of courses, contractualization of services in the university etc. The students have resisted attempts to undermine the hard-fought socially-inclusive character of JNU that has come in the form of scuttling of reservation policy, reversal of deprivation points system as well as the upcoming challenge of anti-reservation bills being passed by the parliament. The students of JNU have stood up against the reactionary state during Emergency, the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom and the black-flagging of the PM during his visit to JNU. in 1995, the administration was forced to revert its policy of fee hike and also reinstate the deprivation points under a militant agitation led by JNUSU. In 2005, students successfully threw out Nestle from campus. But the students are aware that the fight against privatization is far from over. The neo-liberal assault of the state on education and social justice continues in several forms inside and outside the campus. This is an unprecedented attack by administration on us in its drive to make JNU a ‘world class university’, and it calls for an unprecedented response from the campus community in the form of a mass participation in decisive actions, as was reflected in the Long March.

DSU appeals to all the students of JNU to participate in large numbers in the ongoing agitation under the leadership of JNUSU until all our demands are met. Let us observe a 48-hour total university strike starting on Monday, and join the march and mass sit-in as mandated by the UGBM. Let us all give the administration a strong signal that we will struggle unitedly against their attempts to sell out our education and the university in the market

Intensify the Ongoing Struggle! Defeat the Administration's Corporate Agenda!

After yesterday’s march where thousands of students had registered their protest against fee hike and privatization of JNU campus, the Rector assured the student community that the administration would discuss these issues when the VC would return to campus.

Today when the JNUSU went to make the students demands to the administration, the Vice Chancellor arrogantly denied all of them. Instead, he threatened the JNUSU and the protesting students that they would face dire consequences if the struggle continues. The VC claimed that thousands of students who marched yesterday were ‘outsiders’ and students of Jamia Milia and Delhi University who were hired by the JNUSU to do so. The administration, which is too scared to face the students and discuss the issues with them, instead shamefully chose to videotape the protest demonstration at ad block today.

The agitation against privatization has entered a crucial phase. For two weeks the protests under JNUSU’s leadership have continued and yet the administration has refused to discuss the issues with the students. After two days of strike by the JNUSU, instead of accepting to the demands like removal of electric meters from Koyna hostel, the VC declared that the administration plans to introduce electric meters in ALL hostels of JNU—above a nominal usage, students would be charged for electricity consumption.

Seeing the absolutely dictatorial attitude of the administration, the agitation needs to be intensified. The VC has rubbished not just the demands but the spirit of the JNUSU itself. The Vice-Chancellor’s words today only exposed his true face as the stooge of the state which kills peasants, adivasis, minorities in the name of neo liberal policies and SEZ. In all movements when the state intensifies its terror, the people intensify their movements and struggles through the necessary means to fulfill their just demands. At this moment we cannot take a step back but must further mobilize ourselves in a militant struggle that forces the Administration to fulfill our genuine demands. If not, we would be losing the entire battle. This struggle is not just about electricity meters, signboards, prospectus or the corruption in the administration, but rather about what JNU has been and what it should be.

The JNUSU has received a requisition signed by more than 1100 students for a UGBM to decide the future course of action. We appeal to all the students to attend the UGBM in large numbers to democratically deliberate and decide on the course of the struggle and to protect the ethos of the JNU campus.

February 8, 2009

Intensify the Fight against Privatisation of Campus!

"All issues are students’ issues, and no issue is students’ issue alone."

The massive protest demonstration on February 3rd at the ad-block called by JNUSU has sent a clear message to the authoritarian JNU administration that anti-student policies, including the ongoing privatization drive in the campus in the name of ‘resource-generation’, must immediately stop. While installing of electric meters in the rooms of Koena hostel, a sharp increase in the price of the JNU prospectus, renting of the PSR, making of OBC reservation conditional to ‘availability of infrastructure’, curtailment in dhaba timings were some of the immediate demands, the students also collectively expressed their anger against bypassing of the student community in decision-making, and imposition of policies that go against the grain of JNU as a socially-sensitive and responsible institution. Taking full advantage of the supreme court stay on JNUSU elections, the administration has intensified its efforts to make JNU a corporate-friendly university, in the unfounded expectation that there will be no resistance from the students. The administration is introducing anti-student polices one after another in quick succession, and has once again challenged the student community to take up the responsibility of defending what JNU stands for: a democratic, inclusive and socially responsible education that upholds the spirit of criticality and non-conformism in thought.

The intensification of the privatisation drive in the campus: The students’ movement of JNU has fought attempts at privatisation and corporatisation of campus spaces in the past, the successful struggle against Nestle in 2004-05 and Tata funding in the School of Arts and Aesthetics in 2007 being recent examples. Past attempts at fee hike was also fought and won. However, this does not mean that the campus have remained immune to the larger policies of Liberalisation, Privatisation and imperialist Globalisation. Crores of rupees are being invested by corporate houses in the science centres of JNU to facilitate market-oriented research. Highly expensive courses such as the Global Studies Programme in CSSS have been introduced which are sponsored by multinationals like BMW and Mackenzie. Ford Foundation has provided funds for setting up and running the Centre for Law and Governance. Corporates like Mahindra and others have come to JNU for recruitment, and curriculums of many centres have been changed to cater to the needs of the market.

These are only a few examples from our campus how privatisation and corporatisation is being implemented in higher education. Today higher education remains accessible to only a few who can afford to pay hefty fees for technical courses in IITs, IIMs, engineering, medical and media institutes and so on, be it public or private. ‘Merit’ is not a criterion of admission for those who can pay large capitation fees and buys degrees in the market. Even in neighbouring DU colleges, the yearly fees have become highly prohibitive for a majority of the students from weak economic and social backgrounds. The fact that fees in JNU have remained low and thus affordable in some ways to the deprived classes, is because of the progressive students’ movement which have struggled against the logic of the market to uphold a democratic and inclusive education. With the onslaught of neo-liberal policies of the state, this too has come under attack. The days are not far when the administration will introduce a steep increase in the tuition fees and hostel rents etc. with the argument that the university needs to generate its own resources. The administration has tried to justify the electric meters in Koena hostel by arguing that most of the students get scholarships, and hence should bear a portion of the cost of education and facilities they receive.

Privatisation in the campus is taking place at many levels. Not only is the PSR being rented out or auditoriums made open for commercial use, even the essential services in the campus are also being made contractual where private companies such as Group 4 is in charge of campus security, Chase is providing library workers and lab assistants, Vayudoot is employing workers for gardening, garbage collection and electrical works, Garima is running messes in Chandrabhaga, Lohit and Mahi-Mandvi hostels, and so on. Much like the students who come from economically and socially weaker sections of the society are being denied the right to higher education, the workers are also denied their basic work-related rights under the privatized regime.

Attempts to scuttle 27% OBC Reservation: The rights and opportunities of the marginalised sections to education in campuses like JNU are being further jeopardized by the scuttling of OBC reservations even after it becoming the law of the land. Last year when after a protracted battle –both inside and outside the court– 27% OBC reservation got a go ahead, the JNU administration subverted it by a drastic reduction of seat cuts, and ensuring that a mere 9% students could take admission under the provisions of the act. Even though the administration assured that this year the full quota of 27% would be fulfilled, it has been again made conditional to ‘infrastructure’. Making the provision of 54% seat increase conditional on OBC reservation itself was a ploy to prolong and scuttle the implementation of reservation, and this year too the same logic of inability to increase seats have been used by administration. Whereas funds are in no short supply to be lavishly spent on needless extravagance in the name of ‘campus beautification’ and putting up of expensive gadgets and furniture all around, lack of funds is the excuse for not providing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate new students. This design to put hurdles on OBC reservation, along with that of PH category reservation has to be defeated, and we must ensure that the full quota of OBC and PH category reservation is fulfilled this year, without any reduction in the overall seats offered. The present agitation under the leadership of JNUSU must be intensified in order to force the administration for the full implementation of reservation policy in letter and spirit.

Authoritarian JNU administration: Even after the massive demonstration of the students, the administration in its discussions with the JNUSU has not shown any sign of genuinely addressing the demands. Disregarding the collective opinion of the student community the administration refused to remove the electric meters in Koena hostel, and in fact is contemplating its installment in other hostels as well. The decision to rent PSR has only been temporarily set aside, and it has declined to reduce the price of the prospectus. Despite repeated demands, the administration has not committed to implement 27% OBC reservation by this year. In all, the administration has yielded very little to the demands of the student community, and has only come up with vague and temporary assurances. This leaves the students with no other option than to further intensify the ongoing agitation by forging a unity of struggle and uncompromisingly fight for our legitimate rights.

The administration feels emboldened by the stay on the JNUSU elections and making this an excuse has been acting in an authoritarian manner. The JNUSU and the student community have been kept out of decision-making, thus trampling on the democratic rights which have been achieved through years of struggle. Meetings of Academic Council and various committees such as the Campus Development Committee are being held without any student representation, which has allowed the administration to impose its decisions on us. Previously unheard-of committees have suddenly sprung up, which are taking unilateral decisions pertaining to campus life. The administration must be confronted and their undemocratic decisions have to be rejected at every step, and be made accountable for its misdeeds as well as anti-student policies. This struggle is at the same time a part of the struggle to defend our democratic rights, the JNUSU and its constitution.

University for whom? It is not a coincidence that the supreme court stay and the phase of intensified privatisation has come at the same time. The administration feels that the student movement has been weakened by the onslaught of Lyngdoh. As the Birla-Ambani Report recognised students’ unions as the main hurdle to privatisation of education, the present VC too thinks that student politics, which has been the hallmark of JNU, is an impediment to the making of a ‘world-class’ university. In their scheme of a world-class university, the students will not have the right to raise demands and will have to bow to the decisions from above unquestioningly. No critique and resistance to the policies of the state will be tolerated, and no social concern or peoples’ issues will be addressed. In a world-class university, everything including education will be sold at the market price, ‘professionals’ will be produced for the industry. There will be no place for dissent, no place for opposition and alternatives. This is the essence of the world-class university which administration wants JNU to be, the same essence of the market and of imperialism.

JNU is not an island: Much like the oppressed classes of the country finds themselves at the receiving end of Indian state’s neo-liberal policies, and repressed through the use of violent force if they chose to resist them, the students too are faced with an onslaught on their basic rights, including the right to education. And at a time when an overwhelming majority of the peoples are facing an all out imperialist onslaught, how can a campus like JNU remain immune to this process? The same undemocratic and anti-people policies that are imposed elsewhere in the name of development are also being implemented in our campus with the same authoritarian manner. A Nestle outlet, electric meters, hike in the prospectus price, renting of campus spaces and facilities, Global Studies Programme, Posco scholarships or Ford sponsorship etc., all are manifestations of the same process. When we, as students, collectively stand against these policies in our campus, we also therefore strengthen the people’s resistance against the ongoing assault of privatization and imperialist plunder.

Intensify the ongoing struggle against privatisation in the campus! Guard against sectarianism! It is only an uncompromising and collective struggle that can resist and finally defeat the JNU administration’s anti-student and pro-corporate policies. The demonstration of 3 Feb is a reflection of this spirit. In the recent past, however, we have been witness to the betrayal of the students’ movement by JNUSU leadership, be it from SFI who sided with the administration in the struggle against Nestle and the in workers’ issue, or from AISA in the fight for OBC reservation which defended seat cuts last year. SFI is continuing with its tradition of sectarian one-upmanship by indulging in parallel agitations such as ‘paralyzing the administration’ without taking JNUSU or the larger student community into confidence, and thereby undermining the present struggle. The same SFI which was crying hoarse in the last UGBM of undemocratic JNUSU functioning did not wait to build a consensus in the JNUSU council meeting and went ahead with its own programme. Such acts of sectarianism will weaken the ongoing struggle for social justice and against privatisation, and will embolden the administration at a time when the JNU student movement is faced with grave challenges from inside and outside the campus. Let us intensify this struggle without falling prey to sectarian politics.