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The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) has called off the hunger strike that lasted nine days, saying that they need to change their mode of protest. JNUSU has said that Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar is a puppet of the Modi Government and Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and has been complicit in the continuous attacks on higher education by the current government.
Talking to Newsclick, JNUSU President N Sai Balaji said, “The VC is the puppet of Narendra Modi, and Modi is the puppet of the Ambanis and Adanis. They are all trying to destroy public education. So, we have decided that teachers, not only from JNU but also from other universities, and the students will campaign against BJP in the upcoming elections. Because as long as BJP is in power, more puppets like Mamidala will come and go. We have to remove them from power.”
This announcement was made after Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) held the National Convention of Universities on the evening of March 27, and it has been named “Sabarmati Declaration”, after the place in JNU where the convention was held. The declaration will be adapted by universities across the country.
Also Read: JNU Students on Indefinite Hunger Strike Demanding Revocation of Prospectus
The declaration reads, “The past five years have seen a concerted attack on the public funded university and other institutes of higher education. This assault has been on multiple levels simultaneously — availability of funding, irregularities in recruitment and finance, inadequate infrastructure, attacks on institutional autonomy, political interference, constriction of equity, access and reservation, diminishing quality of education and research, restrictions on freedom of expression and association, democracy and security.”
“Although in part a continuation of alarming trends of the past, the past five years represent an exacerbation of these tendencies both in terms of their virulence as well as the breadth of their impact,” it read.
JNUSU said in a statement, “JNU 11 have resolutely sat on an indefinite hunger strike to save education and save universities against the JNU VC's latest move to destroy JNU's model of socially accessible and affordable education. The irresponsible and insensitivity of the VC has been displayed across the country and beyond. University communities across the country and across the world have once again been witness to the Modi government's appointed JNU VC's undemocratic functioning and his utter insensitivity.”
Also Read: Fee Hike in JNU: Another Attack on Higher Education
While addressing the JNUTA Convention, Ayesha Kidwai said, “Our movement began in 2016, with the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula, and the sedition cases in JNU. It is time we step out form little pictures, and put our stories together. Our struggles are against the policies of the Modi government, that are destroying higher education.”
President of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), Rajib Ray, also addressed the convention. He said, “Today, 60 percent of the students in higher education study in universities that are not public funded. We need an immediate reversal of the policies that have been in place for almost two decades now. The public funded universities need to be strengthened, not destroyed, so that everyone can afford higher education.”
G. Hargopal said, “They are openly destroying higher education. They are vulgar, and they want us to know that they are vulgar. There have been communal attacks on higher education. Education is the conscience of the nation. It should respond to social needs, not wants. Neo-liberal policies are an attack on higher education. Neo-liberalism says that humans are selfish, and selfishness is good. Neo-liberalism believes in Brahmanism, in hierarchy.”
Balaji said, “We will go from door to door, and tell ordinary people about these attacks on higher education. This is not a problem that affects only the teachers and students. It is something that affects every citizen of the country. We have stopped the hunger strike, but we are not withdrawing our fight.”