Students, teachers, organisations and unions marched in solidarity to protect Public-funded higher education. The march was led by DUTA along with various other organisations.
On the 19th of February, the People’s March organised by Joint Forum for Movement on Education, led by Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), Federation of Central Universities’ Teachers’ Associations (FEDCUTA), and Delhi University Karamcharis Union (DUCKU), shook the national capital.
The march started at 11 AM from Mandi House and reached Parliament Street by 12:30. Seas of red, white, chants of azadi echoed as students, teachers, unions and organisations joined the march to protest the commodification of public funded higher education, the 13-point roster system and the current state of ad-hoc professors in public universities.
The march was also supported by All India Students Association (AISA), Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF) and Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS).
2019 has seen repeated strikes by the DUTA, on asking professors about their struggle, Dr. Sanjeev Kumar from Zakir Husain Delhi College says, “We have come here under the fraternity of DUTA. The media has also turned a blind eye to our movement. We want justice, not just for our students but those who will be joining universities in the future.”
Professors from across Delhi University marched in solidarity. The staff associations of Lady Shri Ram College for women, Acharya Narayan Dev College and Zakir Husain Delhi College were also present.
“These protests aren’t the longest in DUTA’s history. The political events in the country have built up to the present scenario. Over the last 10 years, the MHRD has brought forth multiple changes like the annual system, FYUP and finally CBCS. With these abrupt changes,the teachers have finally realised that this is an attempt to dismantle public-funded education. It’s no longer about ‘privatization’ of education but ‘commodification’. There is an attack on pensions, teachers aren’t regularised, there are talks of getting teachers on a contract basis, financial grants have been taken away and replaced with education loans. All these are setting the conditions for the state to withdraw and capital to move in. We can’t fight just for DUTA’s demands if we don’t fight for commodification of education.” adds Mukul Mangalik, an Associate Professor of History from Ramjas College.
The march saw student and teacher unions and organizations from across the country, many of them chanted slogans in their regional languages. The spirit of resistance surpassed linguistic boundaries and was united with a common cry for azaadi.
Non- teaching staff were present at the protest too. The non-teaching staff of Kuvempu University, Shimoga, Karnataka gathered to protest for equal salaries, permanent jobs and changes in the hierarchical order.
Demonstrators formed small groups of their own while chanting the slogans, students of Ramjas College took to art to resist. They drew ‘Save Education’ and ‘Knowledge is for all’ graffiti on the ground with chalks.
A counter- protest started on the other side of the barricade. Demonstrators with the Indian Flag and posters saying ‘Pakistan Murdabad’ gathered on the other side of the barricade. The posters were soon taken down but the flags remained. Police surrounded the barricaded area. There were no attempts to barge in or counter-sloganeer from either side.
Image Credits: Adithya Khanna, Aakarsh Gupta and Jaishree Kumar for DU Beat.