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By Hiking JNU Fees, The Government Has Made It Clear That Students Don’t Matter

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By raising the fees of JNU and promoting a loan model, the government has once again made it clear that people of our villages are an area not included in its definition of development. If the children of farmers and labourers who have formed a university with tax money will be shown the way out while then the youth of the country sits silently, cannot be done.

The government is in a mood to sell everything right now. Government initiatives made up of the people’s tax money are constantly being handed over to the private sector. Every year, this government, which generously waived billions of crores of rupees for the rich, is continuously cutting the budget of government educational institutions and education.

The condition of government schools is not hidden from anyone and private schools are out of budget for majority of the population. By passing the All India Entrance Examination of JNU, when the children of the poor are reaching the best university in the country, which is also heard by crorepati MPs and other members of government.

The JNU model of education is constantly attacked. It has been so that the model of Jio University can be established in the country where only the children of the rich can get higher education. Yes, “knowledge is power” means the economically disadvantaged having to take over the country’s social, political and economic resources wanting to do away with the knowledge and thus forming the hated JNU model.

A photo from the protest.

It is strange that the Prime Minister of the country is constantly talking about creating an economy of $5 trillion, but the government of the country does not have the money to teach 5000 children. The government can spend ₹3000 crore on an idol, the leaders can buy 200 million private jets, but the government does not have budgets for universities.

The university is not a mall where you hang a 50% discount board. A progressive society should look at education from an investment point of view and not from a spending point of view.

Actually, the issue is not only about money, but a conspiracy to keep the children and girls of poor farmers and labourers away from the campuses. The government gave the slogan of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” (save the girl child, and educate her) and worked for “Raise Fees, Beti Hatao” (Hike fees, remove women entirely) instead.

In JNU, where the number of women has been outnumbering men for several consecutive years, there are many women whose dreams of a better tomorrow have been shattered due to the hike in fees. Despite all the conspiracies to keep the children of underprivileged communities away from JNU by changing the model of entrance examination in the last few years, even today, 40% of students in JNU come from families whose monthly income is less than ₹12000. The government wants to break the spirits and expectations of the students.

The forces in power have always created all kinds of conspiracies to keep deprived people from knowledge. Dronacharya got Ekalavya’s thumb cut so that the Arjuna remained the best archer. Even today, the government can capture a handful of people whom knowledge will benefit, because knowledge has the power due to which children of the poor people can improve their lives.

The fee hike is so high that the message sent across is that you should not become a professor in any university after doing a PhD. You should either pass Class 10 and work at a nearby dhaba or do a BA and deliver goods from door to door. The children of the rich read without any rest and the children of the poor work part-time and pay the fees. Is this a matter of increasing inequality or not?

The government wants the farmers to not get subsidy on their crop, but the country should continue to pay for a subsidy on the Parliament’s canteen food made by the crop of the same farmers. The children in the university should not get hostels for a minimal fee, but the MPs should continue to live in Lutyens bungalows for free. The billionaire should be excused bank loans while a poor child should be forced to aspire to step right into the trap of the loan.

The government wants to create such a generation of young people who study with a loan and later in repaying the loan, their condition will become so bad that they have neither the time nor the strength to raise the basic questions. False information about JNU is being spread by intrigue. For example, it is being said that the hostel fee here is just ₹10 a month, whereas the truth is that the hostels here have already paid a mess bill of about ₹3000 per month. Not only this, those who talk of doing PhD in JNU in five years, should really ask why even three years BA is being done over five years in government colleges at UP and Bihar.

But, they have a problem as to why a vegetable dealer’s child is opening his own company in the field of tourism studying Russian or French, or how they became a foreign policy expert by doing their PhD in African or Latin American Studies.

Today, all those people should come forward and join the struggle of JNU, who are giving both income tax and GST to the government after studying in government educational institutions. If they remain silent today, tomorrow their children will have to study via taking loans or while doing part-time jobs.

The fees of government colleges are constantly being increased all over the country and JNU has raised its voice against it every time. Today, the struggle to save JNU is not a struggle to save any single university, but it is a struggle to save those values ​​of equality and justice, which is the foundation of our democracy.

Featured image source: KholdoRadio/Facebook.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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