to challenge the authoritarian administration,
to isolate the compromising pseudo-left,
and to defeat the communal fascists!
JNU is not an island. The JNU administration represents the ruling class in the campus! We all know that this casteist-communal-patriarchal administration is up for selling JNU to the market forces. They have internalized the language and politics of World Bank, IMF etc. as well as the Tata-Birlas. According to them, JNU is being converted to a ‘world class university’. And naturally for ‘resource generation purposes’ they need to levy user charges for electricity, hike the price of prospectus, rent out PSR for commercial use! And with the ‘resources’ which is nothing but tax-payer’s money, we have the plasma TVs, the manicured flower pots, pointless signboards and hideous hoardings. ‘World Class’ therefore entails nothing but an external glitter, but with gradually privatized education and commercialized basic facilities, denial of minimum wages and basic legal rights to the mazdoors on campus. And the decisions for all these have been taken arbitrarily, bypassing all concerned bodies of students, teachers and karamcharis. Such anti-student policies, going by the World Bank model again, has to be necessarily implemented in such an undemocratic manner, more in consultation with the market than with the representatives of university community. After all, when the ruling classes ask the people whether they want to get displaced to make way for an SEZ or not!
The World Bank and its cronies have rightly identified students’ movement as the ‘biggest impediment to privatization of education’. And hence Lyngdoh came knocking! The Lyngdoh committee report is intrinsically linked to the larger designs of depoliticisation, facilitating a complete privatization of basic and higher education. It is designed to crush consciously articulated political dissent and opposition. The Committee states that students must be ‘integrationist’ and ‘nationalists’ at heart, and student politics should be aimed at inculcating values of social and economic ‘development’. But imposition of Lyngdoh Recommendations is a thinly veiled instrument for crushing the countrywide students’ movement that raises the genuine issues of the masses and also challenges the status quo. With clauses which will have far reaching consequences, it aims to ensure administration’s hold on the election process, confine student politics within the boundary of the institution, cutting it off from the larger political processes in the name of ‘unnecessary politicization of student bodies’. The Supreme Court Stay on the JNU election process, which is free of money and muscle power and known for its democratic credentials, prove beyond doubt that Lyngdoh is not meant to eliminate the drawbacks of student politics; rather it is here to facilitate state’s control and repression. In this, Lyngdoh is no different in nature from a vast range of draconian laws imposed by the state on the people from above, be it MISA, TADA, POTA, MCOCA, UAPA, AFSPA, NSA, etc to name a few. The only difference is that while these draconian laws target and suppress the struggling masses, Lyngdoh aims to clamp down on the students and the youth.
And when feudalism and the market ties a knot, social justice becomes a prime target. Measures like Lyngdoh are resorted to by the state to quell the simmering discontent among the large majority of students today, who is facing injustice, discrimination and exclusion at every step. Can we expect social justice from a state whose very fabric historically has been woven with brahminical ideology? The recent legislation of 27% OBC reservation was not a ‘gift’ from Manmohan and Co. It is an outcome if long battles that thousands of people for several decades have fought and even given their lives for. It was a movement that forced the state to recognize a right which the casteist society denied for centuries. However, just the passing of legislations don’t really mean their implementation. The casteist authorities always seek to take away with one hand what they were forced to grant with the other. JNU again provides a perfect example of this! Last year in April, JNU administration assured JNUSU that 27% reservations for OBC student would be implemented at one go. However it unilaterally decided later that OBC reservation will be implemented in a phased process. The excuse was infrastructural inadequacy. Making OBC reservation conditional on seat-increase signified reserving the seats for upper caste students. Even the stipulated 12% reserved seats for the first year of implementation was not fulfilled. While around 22% OBC students joined the campus without reservation, with implementation of reservation in phased manner, a meager 9.95% OBC students joined last year. Thus, the administration defeated the reservation policy even after it was made into a law. Same happened with PH reservations as well. Moreover, the administration took a unilateral decision of doing away with progressive ‘offer-system’ and initiated a ‘waiting-list’ system for admissions. It was clear that the waiting-list system is not a conducive system in a university like JNU where students apply from different parts of India. With a short notice in the waiting list, it is virtually impossible for non-Delhi students to come and take admission. And it makes it much more difficult for students coming from deprived socio-economic backgrounds take admissions, or worse, to wait till the next list comes. But it was a conscious policy of this casteist, communal administration to scuttle reservation, to make it an exclusive privilege of the metropolitan-‘meritorious’, upper caste students. After students’ agitation, the administration constituted yet another committee to look into the deficit in reserved seats and to review the wait-list system. It will be a time-bound committee, they promised! But as expected, we are yet to hear from that committee, while admissions for the coming session is just three months away! This year too, the administration has not yet come out with a clear roadmap as to how it will fulfill the mandated reservation quotas along with last year’s deficit! The administration with its actions has time and again made clear that it is against any step towards a just, democratic and inclusive education in JNU, and is an agent of all the regressive and anti-student forces.
The rising incidents of communal hooliganism are a product of this: Like imperialism is fuelling and feeding the fascist forces, JNU administration also shields and nurtures the communal lumpens. The sanghi perpetrators were left scot-free even after they vandalized and scuttled the presidential debate in 2007. The administration ignored the mass deposition of over thousand students, the video proofs that clearly identified the perpetrators and even the Shankar Basu Committee Report that categorically recommended strictest punishment for the sanghi goons. The same handful of sanghis had beaten up a student once more in Chandrbhaga hostel night in the following semester and the administration conveniently hushed it up. The goons, emboldened, dared to attack yet another minority student in Lohit hostel just few days back, spreading a sense of terror. These lumpens are pets of the administration, like they are for any ruling class. They help to keep students diverted from real issues like privatization of education, commercialization of basic facilities. Like their sanghi masters are doing outside, by diverting people from genuine issues!
The pseudo-left student organizations have failed to stop either the administration or the communal fascists. The parliamentary mother parties of SFI and AISA have failed to go beyond tokenism and phrase-mongering, to challenge imperialism or fascism in their immediate manifestations. Rather, they ally with these forces and compromise on the struggle at every step. Thus one can’t expect them to wage any genuine struggle against these forces, their rhetoric notwithstanding. Both these organisations have engaged in petty mudslinging and alleging each other for ‘failures’ while claiming ‘victories’ to themselves. They are the two sides of the same coin. They have sat on hunger strikes (in last year only there were four) whenever they wanted to score mileage over each other, while failing in all the major struggles. Non-implementation of reservation and seat-cut was one of the major struggles last year. The AISA-led JNUSU remained completely silent on the change to ‘wait-list’ system and continuously defended the administration’s position that there had been no seat-cut. SFI initially argued that there was seat-cut and even requisitioned a UGBM, but after their resolution was defeated made a complete u-turn. Both started an opportunist hunger strike after that, and withdrew after administration gifted them one more committee! They took out a victory march and forgot about the committee which despite being time bound, is yet to come out with concrete positions.
The betrayal of the fight against privatization by AISA-SFI is another glorious addition to their politics of opportunism! When the crucial fight against fee hike, electric meter and commercialization of campus spaces started, students responded in an unprecedented manner. There were more than thousand students who joined the long march called by JNUSU. When the administration refused to yield an inch on the major demands of removal of electric meters and reduction of prospectus price, the students debated in the UGBM and decided on a concrete course of action of blockading the ad-block after two days of strike. The students extensively boycotted classes for many days, participated in all the protest actions of JNUSU in large numbers. Yet the leadership betrayed the spirit of the movement as well as the UGBM mandate, by not going into the blockading. 722 students through an open letter asked the JNUSU leadership to respect the mandate, without any response. The AISA led JNUSU with their new allies SFI decided to stop the sell of prospectus in ad-block, a proposal that was defeated by the UGBM (AISA itself had debated and voted against it in the UGBM!). With barely forty students they went for this adventurist action, and the administration took disciplinary action against five of them (something they said will happen, only if we go for the blockading). They championed yet another defeated resolution of the UGBM to go for indefinite hunger strike (something SFI had debated and voted against in the UGBM!). One by one SFI and AISA withdrew from the hunger strike, as arbitrarily as they started it. The result is that the all the prospectus had been sold at the hiked price. The electric meters are still in place in Koyena! And to top it, now we have come to know, that the president had expressed his ‘remorse for the unfortunate protest’! This is the tradition of opportunist, bankrupt and anti-democratic politics of so-called ‘left’ AISA and SFI.
We the students are the union! All the struggles in JNU that have been won (in real terms) were because of collective, organized and principled students’ struggles despite the repeated compromises and betrayals by JNUSU leadership. The pseudo-left has compromised, failed and betrayed the movements to challenge the casteist-communal-patriarchal administration and its communal stooges. Let us radicalize the campus politics. And reclaim our historical legacy of militant students’ struggles! Fight to secure our future, with equality and social justice in education!