‘It’s a Sham’: Why JNU Students Disagree With Partial Fee Rollback

“We will protest for a rollback on fees for all,” said Former JNUSU President Sai Balaji.

3 min read

After over two weeks of massive protests by the Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ (JNU) students, the varsity’s executive council meeting on Wednesday, 13 November decided to partially roll back proposed fee hike. However, the students say it doesn't really help them.

Expressing their anger with the administration, the students said that they have only reduced a portion of the room rent but in reality this does not make much difference.

The revised structure makes single room occupancy rent Rs 200 while for double, it will be Rs 100. The caution deposit will be Rs 5,500. The service charges, however, continue to be charged at Rs, 1,700.

‘Nothing But Headline Management By the Govt,' Says Umar Khalid

Speaking to The Quint, activist and former JNU student Umar Khalid said that majority of the fee hike that was proposed remains the same.

“The government and the JNU VC is giving the matter another twist. First they said the economically-weaker sections will be provided assistance by the administration, later the administration has come out with a press release stating that Below Poverty Line (BPL) students will be given concessions in the fee structure,” he said.

“He stated that according the government of India, a person comes under the BPL category if he has annual income of Rs 27,000. It further comes down to 73 Rs per day. The minimum wage for an unskilled worker is Rs 341 per day. So even an unskilled worker is not eligible for a concession.”
Umar Khalid, Former JNU student

Khalid further slammed the government for diverting from the main issues the country is facing. He said that when the government is faced with questions of unemployment and farmers' distress, it removes data. “Now when it asked about the fee hike which affects more than 40 percent JNU students, it is using the media that is loyal to them to spread these lies,” he said.

Cruel Joke on the Students: Ex-JNUSU President

Explaning why the decision of the JNU's Executive Council is particularly interesting on two points, JNUSU’s former President Sai Balaji told The Quint, “Withdrawing restrictions on curfew timings and dress codes is a good step, but the government has played a cruel joke on the marginalised sections of students today.”

“The service and utility charges and the annual 10 percent fee hike remains the same. But the interesting thing is that they have said that the BPL students will get a 50 percent concession by the administration. It only sounds good, but if you see the students who earn meagre amount of money monthly, how will they pay the fees?” he added.

Balaji said this will prompt the students to protest further.

“We will protest for a rollback on fees for all,” he said.

Another student Om, who is a member of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students' Association (BAPSA), echoed Khalid's and Balaji's views saying that the new manual released by the Executive Council doesn't make much difference.

“The annual income of my family is Rs 50,000 that comes down around Rs 4,000 per month. If hostel fee is cut down to half, say at Rs 3,500, still how am I going manage studying in JNU?”
Om, JNU Student

Meanwhile, JNU vice-chancellor Jagadesh Kumar on Friday, 15 November urged the varsity's agitating students to call off their protests, saying dialogue “cannot be dictated through coercion and illegal methods.”

Earlier, the fee was hiked from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month for single, and Rs 10 per month to Rs 300 per month for double sharing hostel residence. The JNU student union (JNUSU) protested against the same on Monday.

Meanwhile, the JNU administration had contested that the fee had not been increased for the past 19 years. The student union had demanded to have a discussion before the proposed hike.

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