At a time when the JNUSU has been completely rejected as over 82% of JNU’s nearly 8,500 students have registered for the next semester despite a boycott call from the JNUSU, the Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank has finally woken up from his slumber and asserted that the JNU VC won’t be sacked and the fee hike will not be reversed, despite the protesting JNUSU leaders. It is almost as if Pokhriyal is working on the Internet Explorer as the HRD minister has finally arrived late into the party which rocked JNU earlier this month.
The basic demand of Jawaharlal Nehru University students on the issue of hostel fee hike has been met and calls for the removal of the university’s vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar are now not reasonable, says Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. The situation in the university is turning normal, the minister told PTI in an interview. “Over 80 per cent students have already registered for the winter semester. The students who want to study should not be disturbed. If our universities have to excel in global competition, we need to rise above these issues,” he said.“The basic demand of students about the hostel fees hike has been met. The calls for JNU VC’s removal now are not reasonable, removing anybody is not the solution,” he added.
Our question is, why is he so late? All this while, we couldn’t help but be reminded of Kumbhkarn in the Ramanaya who would sleep for months on end. Pokhriyal was not visible in the scene when the entire chaos and controversy went down, right from the time when the fee hike protests started, then the JNU exam boycott, the anti CAA NRC protests where AMU and JMI lost control of their unruly students who clashed with the police and damaged public property. Where was he when the registration boycott was at its peak and violence in JNU started?
The condition of the HRD ministry is so poor that many would not even be aware of our current HRD Minister. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, MP from Haridwar was appointed as the education minister by PM Modi after the 2019 polls. Many were sceptical of the decision back then, and those fears have now proven to be right, as Pokhriyal is invisible when we need him the most. By invisible it is not meant that he has not spoken on the issue and the prevailing situation, but rather that he is incompetent to hold the portfolio and that the student community of India, who genuinely want to work hard and are not interested in this nonsensical field called ‘student politics’, are being done a great disservice.
Violence on campus is not new. Be it JNU, Jadavpur or Jamia Milia Islamia, students creating a ruckus to the extent that the institute begins to resemble a war zone is something which has been left to fester by the current education minister. Where strict action was needed, all that came out was a meek condemnation. Where the situation demanded an iron-fisted solution, all that came out was an apologetic response and the standard ‘action will be taken’ rhetoric.
Mr. Pokhriyal must understand that the ‘action will be taken’ period is over, and that the goons on certain campus’ have turned so confident due to the lack of stern action by government that they think of themselves to be owners of universities. While it is understandable that the Minister fears a massive outrage for “infringing upon the free thought of students”, now it is completely up to him whether he wants to sit back as a lame duck or deal with situations like these in a befitting manner.
Our prayer is that the HRD minister be more visible, more active and approachable on the matter of unruly students in universities like JNU. He needs to show that he is in control. When controversies happen he needs to be in the line of fire instead of ducking in a state of silence. He’s answerable to the Indians who are bewildered and angered by the nature of indiscipline that student politics has shoved our universities into and for how long the fanaticism of the left will last and be tolerated.