The University’s contracted sanitation workers continued to raise their demands by organising a hunger strike, two days after the May Day protest.
Starting around 9:30 a.m, the safaikaramcharis (sanitation workers) of the University of Delhi (DU) supported by multiple student organisations, sat on a hunger strike to raise demands of securing their livelihoods, among other things. This comes after a protest that was organised on 1st May 2019 on the occasion of International Labour Day.
The safaikaramcharis were supported by various student organisations. Among these were students from Students’ Federation of India, Parivartankami Chhatra Sangathan (Pachhas), Pinjra Tod, Collective etc.The hunger strike was marked by sloganeering, speeches, songs sit-ins, and a display of solidarity, went on near the Faculty of Arts building of the University from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The protesters demanded reinstatement of jobs following change of tender, permanent jobs for permanent work and payment of held up salaries, Provident Fun, Employees’ State Insurance and bonus amounts.
However, unsatisfied with the response of the administration, the protesters had decided to carry out a signature campaign and a hunger strike on the following two days.The following day, the protesters organised a signature campaign. Over 400 students from different courses and colleges joined in to express solidarity with the safaikaramcharis.
However, even after today’s proceedings, the protesters said there had been no response from the side of the administration. Thus, to carry on the demonstrations, a protest outside the Deputy Proctor’s office and a rally have been scheduled for 4th May and 6th May 2019 respectively.
On talking to DU Beat, Diya Davis, a member of Pinjra Tod and one of the protesters present at the venue today, said, “It is very clear that the University is hand in gloves with NexGen in terminating the workers. This is to simply teach a lesson to all workers that if they demand for fair wages and other constitutionally granted rights, they will be easily replaced. Workers organizing and raising voices against their exploitation threatens the admin and these private contractors.”
M.Sc. Mathematics students in DU received their results on 8th February 2019, and have been protesting the large-scale failing since 14th February 2019.
Since 14th February 2019, the students of M.Sc. Mathematics Department of University of Delhi (DU) are protesting against the administration for allegedly failing 35 out of 45 students in the Fluid Dynamics Exam. They further claim that 150 out of 300 students failed the first semester Field Theory paper and 130 out of 300 failed the Measure and Integration paper. The students believe that the reason for this is that the faculty feels that the answers of the questions coming in the exams must be according to the notes by the teachers; the students who referred several books to answer the questions were detained. Apart from this, there are students who have been marked absent though they were present for the exams.
The demands of the students are as follows: Firstly, an independent investigation committee, not comprising of any faculty member of the department to re-evaluate the abovementioned three papers, free of cost. Secondly, each student must be shown the answer-sheet of the exams, be it an internal in-house exam or semester exams. Thirdly, the protesting students want the faculty members to lay more emphasis on research-oriented projects where they are allowed to show creativity instead of the ongoing ‘ruttafication’ culture prevailing in the University. Lastly, they are also demanding that students should be allowed to clear their backlogs through re-examinations within two months after every semester. Currently, students have to wait for a year to sit for the re-examination.
On 20th February 2019, the form of the strike was changed into a relay hunger strike. On the same day, C S Lalitha, HoD of the Mathematics department gave a written assurance to the students to fulfill their demands. She also accepted the demand for a feedback mechanism wherein the students are assigned the power to review the teachers’ performance by grading them. The students also demanded action against the anti-women nature of the department. However, these demands were not met by the administration despite passing of the deadline.
Image Credits: Students of M.Sc. Mathematics department
The students have also complained of backlogs in the department, from about 370 students taking admission, and only 30% of the students being able to complete the degree exam. They claim that this is because the exams are designed in a way of testing their memory rather than analytical skills. A student informs DU Beat, “Just because I used the variable ‘X’ instead of ‘Y’, my marks were deducted.”
Srijani Kar, a second-year student informs DU Beat, “There are few students in the mathematics department who complete their masters in two years because of evaluation of this kind and wait to clear backlogs and give improvement tests. Students are unable to be eligible for the NET and JRF, they can’t study further, and can’t get scholarships. The final-year students will be stranded.”
On 27th February 2019, the students have also alleged that Professor Prakash Chandra Jha, Dean of Mathematics Department said that an investigation committee checked their papers, and there hasn’t been any increase in marks except that of two to three students. He also asked the students to take INR 10,000 from him and get their papers re-evaluated. A student further adds, “He asked some of us take money from him personally and get our answer scripts re-checked. However, we denied because this fight is for each one of us. He further stated that the answer sheets are ‘confidential’ and cannot be shown to us.”
DU Beat spoke to Professor Jha. He said, “The issue doesn’t fall under my preview. I don’t look after the examination.”
On 1st March, the students staged a protest outside the department for their long standing demands. The protest was organised by Bhagat Singh Chatra Ekta Manch ,Law Students’ Initiative , Democratic Students Union DSU, and was supported by Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Union (AISA), Pinjra Tod, and Krantikari Yuva Sangathan. However, the protest turned violent hurting the students and the security guards. Gajesh Singh, the Chief Security Officer, hurt his leg and fractured his hand in the violence that broke out. According to the students, the department gate was locked by the guard, and when they asked for entry, the guard abused the students. They also allege that the security officers turned violent on the protestors.
Mr. Singh, Chief Security Officer
However, Gajesh Singh,Chief Security Officer, informs DU Beat that there were around forty to fifty students who wanted to lock CS Lalitha in the department. They had brought locks with them. Singh says, “The students did not inform the administration regarding the protest. They wanted to lock her (the HoD of the department) inside the campus. Humne bacchon ko bola baat karlo madam se, unhone mana kardiya (I asked the students to talk to ma’am, but they refused)” “When I did not allow them to go inside, they started pelting stones on me and the other guards. They brought stones with them. In midst of all this, I fractured my hand. The students also beat up the other guards.” The guards are in the process of filing a FIR against the students.
Bijinder Singh, another guard on duty substantiates the whole incident. He said, “The students’ wanted to lock the HoD inside the department. In the midst of all this, violence broke out.”
DU Beat spoke to Kawalpreet Kaur, Delhi University AISA President. She said, “Delhi Police was seen assaulting the students. The administration had denied meeting the students. If the management doesn’t listen to the student grievances, what will they do? The students are fighting for their rights, and we support them.” On asking her why the protest turned violent when AISA always condemns the use of violence and hooliganism in the University, she added, “The HoD called the security and they beat up the students. We condemn the violence that broke out during the protest. However, the student political wings in the University are there to help the students fight for their rights.”
“SFI also condemns the attack on the democratic space of the University and administrative highhandedness. Again, SFI would like to extend its solidarity with the Maths Faculty of DU”, expressed the SFI press release.
Siddharth Yadav, Delhi State Secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad condemned the same. He said, “We stand by the demands of the students but the way opted for raising the demands must be non- violent. For raising genuine issues, beating security guards, throwing stones, trying to kidnap the teachers must not be the way. Left organisations have started practicing the same which they do in Jawaharlal Nehru University which indeed would not only bring down the weight of the demands but spoil the campus environment as well.”
DU Beat tried contacting C.S. Lalitha, however, she was unavailable to comment.
The Left student organisations to march to Parliament over communalism,privatisation of education on 18th February 2019.
After the protest march for farmers, the students plan to march in protest against the Modi- government on higher education and its anti-student policies on 18th February 2019 to Parliament of India. The march is part of a Pan-India campaign that is being organised by several student organisations including the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO), Progressive Students’ Union (PSU), All India Students’ Bloc (AISB), and All IndiaStudents’ Federation (AISF) with the slogan ‘Save Education, Save Democracy,
Save Nation’. Students have been one of the worst affected sections in the country under the NDA regime, according to the organisations’ Press Release.There have been a series of attacks, on multiple levels and character, which have
resulted in weakening of Indian education system on one hand and sabotaging the very idea of education and its social responsibility, on the other.
The main demands of the ‘Chalo Delhi’ march is to establish a nation-wide, fully state-funded, and free Common Education System from kindergarten to Post Graduation, government spending to at least 6% of the GDP and 10% of the central budget on education, and guaranteed employment to all. The students also aim to stop communalisation of education, implement the existing reservations properly, and ensure social justice in government as well as private
institutions. The protest will also highlight the need to release money for all pending scholarships immediately, establish more fellowships for research scholars from deprived and underprivileged background, protect federal
character of education, and stop gender discrimination and atrocities on girl students. The student organisations have said in a statement, “There is also a serious threat of unemployment before the youth in the country. Rate of unemployment has been the highest in 20 years. The promise of creating two crore job opportunities every year was forgotten immediately after Modi came to power, and the educated youth live in a condition of disarray. No rhetoric can mask the truth, India lives in a dangerous reality.”
Neelanjita Biswas, a member of SFI, in conversation with the DU Beat correspondent said, “The Leftist student organisations have planned a march on 18th February 2019 to save education. There is a nationwide attack on education and unfair budget allotment in the education sector. It seems as if the nation is frustrated by the current government policies- kisans (farmers), karamcharis (the working class), and now the students. It is high time that students fight for their rights.”
On Tuesday, 11th September 2018, DU Beat conducted an interview with Neelanjita Bishwas, the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) in context to the Delhi University Student Union Elections to be held on the 12th of September 2018.
Neelanjita is pursuing Political Science Honours from Hindu College. She is from West Bengal and has been working with SFI since class 12th. Here are some excerpts from the interview.
A majority of students feel detached from DUSU (Delhi University Student Union). In such a scenario, what is your model of establishing accountability? We certainly consider this a major issue. As made clear in our agenda, we plan on holding regular union GBM (General Body Meetings) with students. Yesterday, we held a program called “Ask Your Candidate” and answers pointed questions about our manifesto and policies. We are ready for all sorts of criticism and questions. What are your party’s opinions regarding the autonomy drive of the colleges? Our party clearly opposes any such autonomy of colleges. We understand that autonomy entails economic privatisation which will lead to fee hike and compromise the diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity of university spaces. SFI has struggled against autonomy in the past and would continue doing so. How inclusive do you think SFI in terms of minority representation? At SFI we believe in equality. In fact, only after the recent NSUI allegations of casteism, we looked into the issue of minority representation and found that we have people coming from all socio-economic backgrounds in our party. Lyngdoh Committee lays down five thousand rupees as the maximum expenditure amount. How does your party maintain it? To make things clear at the very beginning, we are against the Lyngdoh Committee for its restrictive nature. Having said that, we are the only party that follows the expenditure and paperless election regulations, when everyone else is abusing it indiscriminately. The administration should take stringent actions against the same. At the same time, seeing other leftist parties engage in the same is extremely disappointing. This election year, AISA has been accused of aligning with CYSS for monetary gains. How do you see these allegations? First of all, it was disappointing to see AISA not aligning with us, in spite of our ideological similarities and the many wars we have fought together. As far as your question is concerned, I believe it would be more proper to pose this question to AISA leadership. In an environment where clean and honest politics has a history of not bearing fruits, what motivates your party to keep on fighting? A drive to weed out the corruption and mismanagement of resources, I would say. There is an inner drive which propels one to keep on working against all odds.
The University of Delhi (DU) has commenced admissions to undergraduate courses from the 19th of June 2018. Significantly, this year’s admission season is marked by a pronounced fee hike in many courses across the varsity.
Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students’ Association (AISA) have resisted this move towards fee hike. Interestingly, this hike comes at the backdrop of the teacher and student community’s struggle against the onslaught of ‘autonomy’ in DU’s affiliated colleges.
In conversation with DU Beat, Vandana Kaul, a Professor at Deshbandhu College, said, “The fee hike is indeed serious. We saw that in the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) strike, students and karamcharis had both expressed their grievances against the fragmentation and privatisation of DU through graded autonomy. The fee hike is a consequence of this move towards autonomy.”
Madhurima Kundu, Secretary of AISA’s DU unit, told the DU Beat correspondent, “On the first day of this year’s admission season, we had protested in front of the Vice Chancellor’s (VC) office. We had met the Dean of Students’ Welfare as well. We were informed that the hike in fees was carried out without knowledge of the varsity. Now, we will be holding protests in the colleges where fee hike has taken place.”
Meanwhile, in a phone call conversation with DU Beat, Anshika Dutta, a DU applicant of this academic session testified, “I have taken admission in Kamla Nehru College for B.Com (Hons) in the first list. And I had to pay over INR 13,000 for my admission.”
At Dyal Singh College, the fee was increased last year as well. The staff council has asked for a roll-back, alleging that it was done without the Governing Body’s (GB) nod. The circular which reached DU Beat through a representative of the SFI read, “In Dyal Singh College, Garden Fee has been hiked from INR 25 to INR 300, Annual Day fees from INR 30 to INR 300, Sports fees from INR 600 to INR 1500..”
Countering the claims that the fee hike was done without the approval of the GB, Principal IS Bakshi said, “The rule is, once the fee hike was decided by the Chairman, it has to be approved by the GB. I have placed it on the agenda. If re-thinking needs to be done, we will decide then.”
Some DU colleges have increased their fee citing a hike in hostel and maintenance fee. Deen Dyal Upadhyaya (DDU) College has increased its fees by almost INR 4,000. “There is a marginal increase of INR 4,000, as the annual maintenance fee of the new campus comes up to INR 3- 4 crore”, said SK Garg, Principal of DDU. The SFI’s circular informed DU Beat that in the fees of Humanities stream of the college, there has been a hike of 36%.
SFI, through its circular, has sent out a warning to the DU administration to immediately revoke the “anti-student fee hike”. The circular concluded on the note that the SFI will intensify the movement against fee-hike and autonomy in the days to come as they plan “to resist the attacks on public funded education.”
Ever since the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) announced a fare hike, the University of Delhi has been raging with a number of sit-ins and demonstrations. On Friday, Vishwavidyalaya metro station, the epicentre of all anti-fare hike protests, saw yet another demonstration.
At 1 p.m., about 50 students predominantly belonging to the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) formed a human chain outside the Vishwavidyalaya metro station to protest against the metro fare hike. They demanded metro concessional passes for students. The human chain gained the attention of many onlookers who also joined in.
Talking to DU Beat about the demonstration, Kawalpreet Kaur, President of AISA DU asserted, “The whole hike in fare shows that the government is only catering to the rich and has no empathy for the common people. Within six months the fare has increased tremendously. The Delhi Metro is a public entity and not a profit-making body for whose profit the fare is being increased. I believe that it is the student community who will suffer the most. We will not swallow this yet another increase and will organise a huge movement in coming days until the hike is rolled back. Also, we demand that DU students should be given special concessional passes for the metro.”
Another student who participated in the human chain said, “We are not claiming that these things will lead to any concrete result, but at least we are trying to make our voices heard. Sometimes just dissent in itself is important.”
Earlier on Monday, a group of activists from the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) had a sit-in at Vishwavidyalaya metro station and stopped the train in its tracks. It briefly disrupted metro services.
While agitation for affordable transportation is necessary, whether or not these protests will result in policy change can only be established with time.
Feature Image Credits: All India Students’ Association
The Delhi State Committee of Students’ Federation of India (SFI) has decided to join hands with All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO), with an aim to fight against Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party for this year’s DUSU election.
In a press release, AIDSO said, “We believe in forging a broader unity of the left and democratic forces.” The radical transformation of university space in DU cannot be accomplished without building the broadest possible unity of all the progressive forces in the campus based on students’ rights, which are being attacked by the ruling ABVP led DUSU in collaboration with the Central government”.
Furthermore, their statement also stated, “SFI believes Left politics wholly depends on mobilising the masses, and this can happen only by forging broad alliances of progressive political forces in the University. In pursuance of the need for a greater unity, SFI-AIDSO has come together in Delhi University Students’ Union Elections to forge an alliance of struggles.”
The student panel standing for the election from this alliance is as follows:
1. Rafat Alam: DUSU President (SFI), M.A, from Department of Social Work
2. Jitendra Kumar: DUSU Vice-President (SFI), LLB from Campus Law Centre
3. Kolisetty Lakshmi: DUSU Secretary (SFI), from Shri Ram College of Commerce
4. Roshan: DUSU joint Secretary (AIDSO), from Satyawati College.
All India Students’ Association (AISA) is the only other Left aligned party contesting the election. Earlier this week, ABVP, NSUI and AISA also released their student panels for this year’polls.
The Student’s Federation of India(SFI) organised an event in the Art’s Faculty, North Campus on 23rd August that comprised of a protest march from the Art’s faculty towards Ramjas College, Kirori Mal College and back. This march was joined by many SFI members as well as a number of the general university student populace who wanted to voice their grievances.
The Student’s Federation of India is a student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) working towards making the University space a comfortable for the quotidian student. The march was driven by a general discourse of the various demands of the students. Some of the points raised during the meet were:
Scarcity of hostels accommodations and lowering of the fee structure
Installations of sanitary napkin vending machines in the various colleges
Provision of University buses
Abolition of gender discriminatory rules in the university space
Ensure hygienic environment in the university
Stop vandalization of University walls by electoral parties
An SFI member spoke to us saying “Government education par zyada paisa khurch karna nahi chaate. Desh bhar ki chatraye bade sapne lekar DU aate hain lekin yaha unhe ek 6×6 size ki overpriced room main rehkar padai karna pardta hain kyunki college hostel provide nahi kar sakti. Humari maang yeh hain ki education funds ko badaya jaye.” (The Government does not wish to spend much on education. Students from all over India come to DU with dreams but on getting ere they are made to live in a 6×6 overpriced room because the college cannot provide hostel accommodations. We demand that the education funds be increased.)Slogans like “Saste hostel lekar rahenge” alsoresonated throughout the stretch of the march.
The gathering was addressed by the Venezuelan Counsellor, Juan V. Freer who talked about the education model and the politics of a socialist country. The organisation will soon release its manifesto for the upcoming elections which is one crafted and submitted by students across 20 colleges in the University of Delhi.
Kerala government’s recent effort to ensure menstrual hygiene, the much thought out ‘She Pad’ scheme was announced last month by the Chief Minister of the state, Mr. Pinnarayi Vijayan. Subsequently, the Students’ Federation of India, the students’ wing of CPI(M) has also led a wider campaign with the tag, “Bleed Without Fear” in the University of Delhi; demanding installation of sanitary napkin vending machines.
The scene unfolded on a Monday morning was as such: the sight of the entire campus walls and trees pasted with sanitary napkins and the slogan, “Bleed without Fear.” A multitude of students from premier institutes like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and most colleges of the University of Delhi have extended their support to the campaigns led by SFI.
A signature campaign has also been initiated for the same demand. This campaign is generating great enthusiasm among the students in the campus. Hundreds of students have signed up as volunteers for the campaign in the last one week.
“Our demand was not only against the high GST tax on the pads, but our #BleedWithoutFear also stands for the menstrual hygienic health of the female community. Every school and college should install sanitary napkin vending machines with good quality of pads with an environment safely disposal mechanism,” said Satarupa Chakraborty, a member of SFI to the Indian Express.
About a month back, more than 300 female students affiliated with SFI sent sanitary napkins to the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The napkins with the slogan ‘bleed without fear, bleed without tax’ on them were sent to protest against the imposition of 12% tax as per GST.
This particular incident at the University of Delhi has been SFI’s endeavour to bring the campaign and protest on a national platform.
The Students’ Federation of India (SFI), CPI (M)’s student wing, conducted a referendum last week on the widely debated Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) which was implemented at the undergraduate level this year by the Delhi University. The referendum was conducted through polling stations at 12 major colleges of the varsity. These included Kirori Mal College, Hindu College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, SGTB Khalsa College, Miranda House, Laxmi Bai College, Satyawati College, Satyawati College (Evening), Zakir Hussain College, Zakir Hussain College (Evening), Motilal Nehru College, Ram Lal Anand College, Aryabhatta College, Dyal Singh College, Dyal Singh College (Evening), Aurobindo College and Aurobindo College (Evening).
The students voted in considerable numbers at all the centres leaving the final vote count at 12,769. Out of the number of votes casted, 11,734 voted against the system by selecting the ‘No’ option on the ballot papers while 1,016 voted for it. 19 votes were deemed invalid. The counting was done on Wednesday evening outside the Arts Faculty by a three member teacher panel. 91.89% of the votes were against the system.
SFI, which claims to be constantly battling for a fair higher education system in the country, faced resistance from the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in various colleges as the former was eventually garnering a lot of support during the lead up to the referendum. The Federation now plans to do a nationwide referendum on the nature of higher education in the country and accordingly report the results to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.