By: Manzar Imam
New Delhi: In an otherwise quiet Friday evening of 5 October, 2018 at the premises of an old building that houses some of the oldest departments of Jamia Millia Islamia over two dozen students raise slogans against the university authorities demanding well-qualified faculties for all the different courses at the Turkish Language and Literature Programme run under the Faculty of Humanities and Languages with the aim to ‘empower the learners to systematically understand languages, histories and cultures of the world’. The Programme that initially began with certificate and diploma courses in 2006 now has an advanced diploma and a full-time undergraduate degree course.
Some university authorities were at times seen trying to convince the protesting students to call off their strike, but students seemed unyielding raising their voices with more vigour stating that they were being given false hopes for long. An angry final year student says, “Internal politics is costing our studies”. It has been long since we have had a translation class which is so crucial for learning as important a foreign language as Turkish. Had it been for a part-time certificate or diploma we could understand but this is a full-time degree course and that too when we are in the final year for which we have had no class for long, says another student. Students also demanded that they should have a separate center or department because information about classes and other activities is not easily available as a result of which students face great difficulties.
As the protest entered the third day, this correspondent met few students and teachers of the Faculty of Humanities and Languages to inquire about the ongoing protest. A teacher expressed sympathy and showed muted solidarity with the demands of students to have permanent qualified teachers at least for the honours classes. However, another teacher had a different story. He says, “Some teachers are behind the protest” to win the support of students.
Not just the Turkish language students, students of other departments also watch the protest from the first and second floor of the old building and they seem to be extending their moral support to the fellow students which number around 170 drawn from the four Turkish language courses.
While it is hard to say which side of the story is true as views differ, at stake, however, is the future and career of the students who seem to be at the receiving end despite being enrolled in a professional foreign language programme, at different levels which, according to many students, has a high placement record.
At the time of filing this report the protest entered the fourth night. On being asked a student informed that though most of their demands were accepted but, since nothing was given in writing, they will continue to protest.
In view of the protest stretching and the demands sounding quite genuine, it is hoped that the authorities address the grievances of students and expedite matter before it enters another day.
[Author is a journalist and Ph.D. scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia.]