#increasenonnetfellowship: Notes from Ongoing Protest at UGC

December 9, 2015

Dec 9: Brutal police attack on OccupyUGC march

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Today, the protest march to Parliament Street was water-cannoned and tear-gassed by Delhi Police near LeMeridian Hotel, Ashoka Road roundabout. Many students injured!

Police was not registering the FIR that students want to register against the brutality and crack down of police.

THE CASE IS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ON WOMEN STUDENTS. Women students manhandled by police. Threatened of tearing away clothes. No woman police force to handle woman protestors.

Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, CPDR Maharashtra strongly condemns the brutal attack on students at the Occupy UGC protest site. Many of the students have been severely injured, women have been sexually assaulted in police vans by the police themselves. About 300 students have been detained and students are being assaulted and provoked even within custody. CPDR Gen. Sec. Anand Teltumbde along with others like Prof Hargopal are in the process of discussions with Police so as to safeguard students from further brutality. Down with Police gundagardi, Down with Fascist state !!

*****

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#Occupy UGC – Day 21 – 10th November 2015

report by Nowruz

Irrespective of day or night we are continuing our occupation at UGC against the UGCs decision of scrapping Non-Net Fellowships and the larger plan of government to sell off education sector to the WTO-GATS. While some of us continue to sit at UGC, many others are going to different colleges and campuses and mobilizing students.

The demands are nowhere close to be met till now. We have failed to receive any written promise from MHRD or UGC and we won’t be fooled by publicity stunts of any minister and continue our protest till demands are met in REAL. The Review committee set up by MHRD is planning to implement a ‘criteria’ mechanism in granting fellowships to the students which we strongly oppose!! This is nothing but an attempt to maintain Brahminical capture of the educational institutions where policies of fund cuts, fee hikes etc are nothing but measures of excluding the marginalized sections like Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and minorities from attaining education. We see that the process of privatization in education is working in complete tandem with the Savarna’s intent of accumulating/privatizing knowledge.

In the same voice in which we register our protest against Privatization, WTO and Capitalism, we recognize and protest against the Brahminical roots of this rotten system. On the occasion of the farcical Hindu Festival of Diwali #Occupy UGC invites you for a Study Circle on 11th November at 5:00pm where we would discuss the importance of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ‘Annihilation of Caste’ in today’s times and the relevance of understanding Brahminism in Student Movements!
Be there!

#Occupy UGC Jaari hai, Jaari Rahega!

MARCH TO MHRD – 5th November

‪#‎OccupyUGC‬

Dear friends and Comrades, you may know that #OccupyUGC has been pushing for its demands for increase in amount of non net scholarships, extension for non net scholarships and against application of any criteria in terms of providing scholarships. Till now we have been campaigning in Delhi and many students have joined the movement. However, now is the point when the struggle needs to intensify and all of us should march towards MHRD and show our resistance to these profit oriented, anti – people policies of exclusion and discrimination and to this regime of caste ridden oppression. The State’s attempts to recklessly privatize and liberalize the education sector and to sell it to WTO – GATS needs to be completely opposed and dismantled..

This is an appeal to all students in state / central universities to reach Delhi on 5th November at UGC and let’s all walk to the Ministry and demand for what is ours. All the student unions in Delhi, student and teacher organizations, worker unions and other democratic organizations and individuals are urged to turn up in large numbers and be part of this rally from UGC to MHRD.

Kindly get in touch with us to coordinate. Also it will be great if you could get us in touch with more student unions so that we may approach as large number of students as possible.

Spread the Word!!

Nov 1: update

# CALL for PROTEST DEMONSTRATION for tomorrow (2nd Nov) at 2pm outside the UGC office during the first meeting of its Review Committee set up to review the future of Non-NET fellowships for research scholars.

Volunteer teams were formed for campaigning in universities for this protest. A media co-ordination team was also constituted, and responsibilities distributed for making a common OccupyUGC parcha and poster.

# A General Body Meeting is to be held tomorrow (2nd Nov) AT 6PM to discuss and decide future course of action for the OccupyUGC movement.
AGENDA:
Formation of Co-ordinating Committee
Proposal of a March to MHRD
National Mobilisation

Protests : Oct 26

ugc 26oct

In Delhi, the call is to assemble at UGC on Oct 26 at 2pm. Students from JNU, DU, AUD, SAU, Jamia will participate.

Many demonstrations in many universities are simultaneously working out on that day, including in Aligarh Muslim University, Central University Gujarat – Gandhinagar, Mumbai (students of TISS, IIT, IIPS, TIFR, MU, in front of the Mumbai University Gate in Kalina), and on 28th in front of Presidency, Kolkata, and so on.

Mizoram University Student’s Council and Mizoram University Research Scholars Association is organising a protest at the Campus main gate at 9:30 am.

Join ‪#‎OccupyUGC‬ tomorrow 26th October 2pm !
Make the University Strike tomorrow at JNU successful !

Sign the petition : Withdraw cancellation of Non-NET fellowship

Oct 25

by Nayan

HRD Minister Smriti Irani, in a selective audience to RSS’s own student organisation ABVP, has purportedly agreed to roll-back UGC’s decision to discontinue the non-NET fellowship today. At all points in the struggle in the past week from Delhi to Gujarat and elsewhere, we have seen how this organisation’s cadres (in collaboration with the Police-paramilitary) attacked protesting students, strengthened the brahmanical ‘merit’ argument, and unleashed its lumpen-lies-rumours machinery to coerce students against raising their voices. And now, in this farce of a ‘democracy’ of farcical ‘resolutions’, it tom-toms a supposed ‘resolution of the issue’.

First, the ‘issue’ is far from resolved: the demand was not and is not a defensive ‘save the fellowship’, but assertive one of expanding and ‪#‎increasenonnetfellowship‬ is central to the agitation and a long-standing one among researchers/students, given sky-rocketing price rise, hike in rents and cost of living (all due to policies which the government imposes on the people).

And second, what we witness is an unleashing of an assertion by young people who point to our exploited life-work conditions, and collectivize to help/represent themselves, as it quickly spread to educational institutions across the country. This is the strength that one one hand pressurizes the government to consider one of our demands and on the other hand to play games of co-option such as these. This is the strength that sleeps in the body politic, which the rulers fear and which they cannot ‘resolve’. Let us carry this assertion forward.

October 23

by Sumati

What is UGC and central government afraid of? Today early morning, they picked up students who had been occupying UGC since Wednesday, against its move to remove scholarships for research students without NET qualification, which is a direct surrender to WTO’s diktats of state withdrawal from higher education and a step towards making education a “tradeable service”.

Students from across universities in Delhi had been gathering outside UGC and protesting this blatant attack on our access to education, which will make it even more into the privilege of a few from the required caste and class backgrounds. It will also especially affect female students and students from Dalit and marginalized backgrounds, who entirely depend on these scholarships to continue with their higher education. In the early hours of morrning, police and the deployed para-military picked up the nearly 100 students and took them to Bhalaswa police station which is in the far end of the city. To protest this, hundreds of us gathered outside UGC, where the govt had already deployed tonnes of para military and delhi police with dozens of barricades.

After a long struggle to demand release of our friends and comrades, and to meet the UGC chairperson, the police lathicharged us, many of us were injured. One female student was brutally hit on the head resulting in heavy bleeding and injury. We were pushed and barricades upon barricades were thrust on us by a hostile police. We broke many barricades, but they kept coming. After that, all of us walked to the main ITO junction and the blocked the road with a human chain for about 20 mins. Soon, the police came with a big tank of water cannon to intimidate us. While, on the other side, ABVP nautankiwalas had been allowed to gather outside UGC and block the road (ostensibly to oppose this decision made by their own government), the police did nothing to them. When we moved to the UGC main gate, the police even did a 5 min natak with ABVP, a stage-managed push and pull where ABVP lumpens were allowed to get photographed. These idiots were put into a bus, whose windows and glasses they broke immediately. The police did nothing and then dropped these lumpens barely 5 feet away, where they got off the bus and did some more drama of “protesting against UGC decision”. Students were unrelenting till our comrades were released. The police and UGC negotiations seemed like some hostage negotiations where they put demands like: “if all of us left the UGC premises, they would leave 25 of the 100 detained. the rest would be released later”. Later, they said they will release all of the people detained at Bhalaswa if we agree to leave the UGC premises.

Eventually, all of our comrades have been released now it seems. This is part of a larger and sinister game plan to completely withdraw the state from education, which the WTO conference in December will ensure. But it has been going on since many years, started by UPA with the many private university bills and the gradual destruction of govt schools and public universities. We must oppose this move tooth and nail, and seeing the spirit of all students it is clear that this battle- which is directly linked to all our battles against this soldout casteist communal state – will not end till it defeats this latest move. Inquilad Zindabad!

*****

The students of different universities of Delhi have been staging a dharna inside UGC building compound for last two days. On the night of 22nd October 2015,the police surreptitiously picked up all the protesting students from UGC and took them to Bhalaswa dairy police station, more than 20 kms away at the outskirts of the city. It is to be noted that in the entire incident that unfolded in the night the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of RSS played hand in glove with the police. ABVP goons pelted stones on the protesting students, abused and threatened them. It is a clear sign of the politics of silencing that the right wing hindutva forces are unleashing on any protest and dissent.. The spontaneous protest against the austerity, protesting against the scraping of non -NET scholarship given to needy research students, did not go down well with the government and their vigilante gangs and they appeared on the scene to break the protest.

After the students got to know about the arrest there was a bigger mobilization from all the universities of Delhi in the morning at the UGC when the students demanded an audience with the UGC chairman Ved Prakash it was refused. The students pressed for their demands against the apparent apathy of the UGC. They were also demanding that their arrested Comrades be freed immediately. This also fell on the deaf ears. The agitating students were persisting with their demands. All this while when the students were trying to reason out the police and the local ACP kept threatening the students with “use of force”. It was not long Before the police started beating up students with lathis. One male and one female student got badly injured and they were immediately rushed to the hospital by their friends while the police continued the assault.

The students angered by this brutal assault decided to block the ITO crossing which is about 100 mts away from the UGC. The students could barely reach the ITO crossing when the police again charged with force, misbehaved with women protesters, beat up students and physically removed them using brute force. By this time massive mobilization of police force was done as it was now happening right in front of Delhi police headquarters. Water canon and other repressive equipment was deployed.

Despite this the student spirit is not broken, they have decided to assemble at the UGC gate again. At this time, they are still continuing their protest at the UGC. The injured students are in hospital, the arrested students in Bhalaswa dairy police lock up. More than 300 students are sitting on dharna at UGC. Please spread the word and mobilize support. The students are continuing the protest and there is threat of another police assault. We appeal to all democratic organizations and individuals to come and express their solidarity.

Chaitanya
Nowruz

******

October 22

We are writing to you from the site of the ongoing protest vigil by hundreds of students at the University Grants Commission (UGC) headquarters in ITO, Delhi. You might have already heard that the UGC, in a meeting on 7th October to review recommendations to enhance the non-NET fellowship, has instead, ironically, decided to ‘scrap the scheme’ altogether (copy of Minutes attached).

This is a serious attack on our right to education, and directly adversely affects lakhs of students across all central universities in India, who are pursuing their MPhils and PhDs. Though the amount itself (Rs. 5000 per month Mphil, Rs.8000 for PhD students) is meager and less than even the minimum wage for an unskilled worker in Delhi for example, it is the only source of sustenance for the larger majority of students pursuing higher education today. The UGC Chairman Ved Prakash has given a one-liner explanation for this brazen attack on education: “we were getting a lot complaints about the fellowship, so we have decided to do away with it” (what does it even mean??)

This move has of course come on the heels of the 8% cuts in the education budget this year itself, and come as per the directives of the government’s bosses at the World Trade Organisation, which is expressed in setting “cost of education to be passed on to students” as a condition. India is all set to sign this agreement in the WTO ministerial convention in Nairobi this December, and this move is part of the same ‘package’. It is clear that the complaints that our UGC Chairperson talked about is from the WTO and not from common students!

This direct attack on higher education by the present government also seeks to further the divide among students – dispossess education and basic amenities from the majority of students who will become cheap labour for your failed development model (even the capitalist associations are saying that this is a jobless growth model, see this ASSOCHAM report: “50 lakh jobless in the years of ‘highest growth’ from 2004-2010”), and a ‘creamy meritocratic layer’ accumulating ‘knowledge’ and ‘culture’ (sic) who can afford to do research in high-end foreign universities to man the overexploited workforce in the country. To further divide the student community, UGC has decided to tactically continue the fellowship of the current students, so as to create a wedge between ‘current fellowship holders’ and ‘future fellowship holders’.

In sum: we face an absent future. And the only way we can halt and reverse this is by raising our voices together as a united students’ community. On 21st October, around 200 of us – many common students from JNU-DU-Jamia-AUD – broke open the main gates of the UGC headquarters in Delhi in the afternoon, clashing with the Delhi Police, and raising slogans against the discontinuation of the non-NET fellowships. We continue to sit in protest at the doors of the UGC, which will go on indefinitely, as the Chairperson did not meet us and the in-charge had only empty assurances of “review in one month or two” (till the WTO dictates come in full force?!) to offer till now.

Our demands are simple:

Immediately revoke the UGC decision dated 7th October to discontinue the non-NET fellowship
Increase the non-NET fellowships given price rise, hike in rents and cost of living.
Provide the fellowship to all Universities
Stop differential treatment of students, and halt all other moves towards privatization of education.

What can we do? (Some suggestions, please add more and lets work on it!)

– We should try and reach the ongoing protest site in front of the UGC which will go on indefinitely, and make plans to make the deaf ears of the UGC hear in even larger numbers in an appropriate date in the coming days when most students return from the current break.

– We could collect signatures from our respective departments (and from friends in other departments), and among friends in our hostels and PGs. The signature can be on a format addressing our demand to the UGC and the HRD Ministry. Our demand is not to ‘save fellowships’, but to ‘increase the fellowship’. There has been a long-standing demand of students to increase the amount, keeping in mind, price rise, hike in rents and cost of living, and so on. We need to stress on this while talking to the UGC.

– We could write individual/collective testimonies to circulate among other students and post to the UGC chairperson and HRD minister, eg. how we (barely) survive on the fellowships as ‘research workers’ and how it needs to be increased. We have to represent ourselves!

– We should coordinate among ourselves for this purpose. Some friends have put up this facebook page: Education is not for sale: #increasenonnetfellowship, where we could put up our testimonies and news for collectivizing our struggle.

This is a case where we strongly feel that all the common students need to come forward in active resistance to the ongoing attack on students and education in general. Let us organize ourselves, inform and coordinate within different universities and colleges to defend our right to education. Join in and Spread the word!

Parag, Subhashini