Protests were carried by the All India Students Association (AISA) for reopening of college campuses along with other demands of the student community.
On 21st January 2021, the All India Students’ Association (AISA) took the step of holding protests and demonstrations for the immediate reopening of college campuses at the headquarters of the University Grants Commission (UGC). It was brought into action by students from all over Delhi who had joined demanding the same.
Mr Kashif Ejaz, the Secretary of AISA emphasized and repeated the demands and needs of the movement; the public meeting became a viewer of different problems raised by other members as well. Mr Ranvijay, National Vice President went on to criticise the pro-corporate policies initiated by the current government. Illustrating the trifles and difficulties often faced by the students; Neha, Abhigyan and Dolan from Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), Delhi University (DU), and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) respectively expressed their views about the campaign as well.
Abhigyan who is currently the Delhi State Vice President told DU Beat,
“AISA has been campaigning for about a month for the reopening of campuses nationwide. All the students we have reached said that they need access to the University. We see this movement as a movement against exclusion, privatisation and corporate loot in education and we do not see the Government’s push of digitisation divorced from the NEP. AISA will continue these protests until robust measures are not taken by MHRD, UGC and respective Universities.”
An active member of AISA and a student of AUD, Neha expressed:
“In AUD seats are divided into NCT (Delhi applicants) and ONCT (Outside Delhi applicants) seats which constitute 85% + 15% respectively. We spoke about how in AUD out of the 19 PG courses to which admissions took place recently, all 19 has empty seats in EWS category, 15 in ST category, 16 in SC category and 17 in OBC category. The New Reservation Policy is completely denying SC/ST/EWS students the right to the reservation that too in a university named after Ambedkar. He (Joint Secretary of UGC) said, we will speak to the State Government, and sort this out. Very diplomatic answers, nothing concrete at all.”
A memorandum was submitted to the Chairman of UGC that threw light on the demands raised in the movement by a delegation from AISA that consisted of Prasenjeet Kumar, the National Working Secretary. The memorandum consisted of the following demands:
- All college campuses must be reopened with adequate safety measures.
- Pending scholarships should be disbursed.
- In all Universities and Colleges, there should be a proper implementation of reservations and positive action policies.
- Necessary aid of Internet and laptop facilities should be provided to students in need.
- All tuition/hostel fee must be waived off for the lockdown tenure.
- Uniform access must be available for Hindi reading material.
- Research scholars must be given a one-year extension.
In a dialogue between AISA and UGC, the former explained to the latter how the above demands are the basic requirements for students if one needs to walk down further in the path of education. Replying to the same, the Secretary of UGC stated how the Commission has already issued guidelines regarding the reopening of colleges and implementation of the same will be done in an autonomous manner. On the issue of aid required for students in need, the UGC declared themselves to be sympathetic regarding the needs. AISA asserted that if positive steps were not taken for the above-highlighted concerns, this movement will continue and will reach out to all the Universities of the country.
“The basic question that we want to ask the government is- If cinema halls can open- if thousands of people can gather at Hyderabad for an event without wearing masks- then why put a full stop on education in the name of the pandemic? We are demanding that the colleges should reopen because students from the marginalized communities would probably share one room and they cannot study in such an environment. Household spaces are gendered, so women scholars are expected to help in the household course and it is difficult to juggle both studies and work.”Stated Dolan who is the Delhi State Vice President of AISA and a research scholar at JNU.
Recently activists of Student Federation of India (SFI) who were protesting in front of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) demanding the reopening of Universities have been detained. 10 SFI activists including SFI Delhi state President Sumit Kataria have been taken into police custody. Some students have also expressed their disbelief with these Students’ bodies as they think they are being ignorant to the underprivileged students right now to travel and take risks to come this far.
Featured Image Credits: AISA