With the political drama brewing in JNU over an increase in fees for several facilities like hostel, mess etc, debates and discussions regarding the government support provided to the students are surly making the scene. While many have called out the several students to be nothing but mid aged politicians, working to propel their ‘student’ politics, several in the media have also come out in support of these students and claimed that marginal increase in the fees and even imposition of existing university rules is not only detrimental, but have equated this move by the JNU administration as a blatant ‘classist’ action against poor students.
Leading the charade is NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar, who is infamous for giving out his personal opinions in garb of ‘neutral’ journalism for long. In a similar incident, Ravish Kumar during his show on NDTV took similar line and opened an all-out attack on the government while burying genuine student’s grievances under loads of vile political rhetoric.
In the show, Ravish Kumar also went to the length of trying to put in his political agenda along with the sensitive narrative of student issues. He says the students protesting against the fee hike indicates “that the poor economic situation has affected the common families.” Claiming the fee hike to be strange he claimed that “If government institutions are expensive, not everyone will get education.”
The expenses at JNU, even after the hike are relatively very low compared other universities. The move seems to rationalise the costs at JNU in relation with other government funded universities. Ravish Kumar’s argument that an economic crisis is to be blamed for JNU students’ protests is so far fetched that it is illogical.
Nonetheless, for Ravish Kumar his hyperboles are sure in line with earlier incidents where he had tried to blow simple issues out of proportion or like in this case, latched on his political agenda to apolitical protests. It is also to note that the JNU administration has been trying to negotiate with the students, however several disruptive elements among the students have certainly marred the protests with incidents of violence and detention of JNU staff by students.
The protests against the fee hike exhibit a strong sense of entitlement within the JNU students. They have assumed that they have the right of getting their stay at JNU subsidised by the nation, the very nation that they love to slander. A cursory look at the hostel fee structure at the JNU gives a clear picture of how highly subsidised the Central University is. The present rent for a single room is Rs. 10, and that for a double room is Rs. 20, which is now proposed to be hiked to Rs. 300 and Rs. 600 respectively.
Even if the proposed hike takes place, the hostel fee would actually remain highly subsidised, given the rent prices in the area in which the JNU is located. Coming to academics, admission fee for Bachelors, Masters, PhD and MPhil programmes is a mere Rs. 5/-. The annual tuition fee for BA and MA courses is Rs. 216/-, while of M.Phil and PhD is Rs. 240/-. The present hostel fee structure and negligible food rates, coupled with a very low admission fee makes JNU a heaven for all those individuals who are uninterested in academics, to spread propaganda and make a political career for themselves. It is for this very reason that several students remain on campus for even nine to ten years.
Ravish Kumar in his video also attacked the University for trying to impose decade old rules related to timings of the library. While points that library timings should be suitable for students is genuine, however the anarchist political discourse being pushed by Ravish Kumar to disregard the existing rules, certainly call his journalistic credentials into question. This journalism might be surprising to many however for those who have followed Ravish Kumar for long are not surprised by Ravish Kumar’s astounding efforts to put in his political agenda in every issue. The conduct of many left-liberals like Ravish Kumar is surely a hangover from previous regimes in India which have left no stone unturned to manipulate simple issues in to issues of caste, class and religion. Nonetheless, comments by Ravish Kumar on the issue are certainly like his personality, hilarious.