Recently some students belonging to United OBC forum in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have started an indefinite hunger strike against the unilateral decision taken by the university in regard to the UGC gazette notification giving complete importance to the Viva-voce making the written exam only qualifying in nature. In the lecture organized by the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA), on 20 Jan 2017, one of the students seems to have challenged to openly burn his M.Phil degree as a marker of their protest and discontent with the university’s decision. The students have given an ultimatum to the Vice-Chancellor to reconvene AC meeting on Monday
The students have given an ultimatum to the VC to reconvene AC meeting on Monday otherwise they would collectively burn their degrees and refuse to become just the passive recipients of this move that will encourage.The students have given an ultimatum to the VC to reconvene AC meeting on Monday otherwise they would collectively burn their degrees and refuse to become just the passive recipients of this move that will encourage caste-based discrimination in the selection and admission process and will push out a large section of the students outside the purview of the higher education.
However the way they took the stage was much uncalled for and happened in a sudden manner. This spontaneity with which the actions were taken also raises important questions regarding their intentions. It’s not for surprise that some other groups have alleged them of doing this ‘drama’ only for seeking publicity rather than for sake of any real struggle. These students belonging to UOBC forum had also accused Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) and JNUTA for not supporting them and making compromises with the administration.
However their own movement in the beginning was not united and they themselves have taken decisions which are questionable. It is important that we see this not only as a decision that will encourage casteism and discrimination in the universities as even people belonging to upper caste may be thrown out on the basis of not being able to speak ‘proper or appropriate’ English and so it is to be seen as a attack on the students as collective, even if it would hit those belonging to the backward castes most.
Further, the pretext on which students were suspended is also full of contradictions if seen in the light of the VC’s statement and the turn of the events. It’s important that we recognize the larger attack on JNU where even the act of sloganeering now can suspend students, which is the unique culture of JNU and part of the academic development itself.
Thus identifying and acting on the larger cause is required but at the same time ensuring that demands of suspended students are fulfilled through revoking their suspension, taking back the UGC notification which is well within the purview of the JNU administration and ensuring social justice is the need of hour that can be done only by standing in united way in the face of this onslaught of the saffron fascism.
(BY: Ujwal,a JNU student)