CHARGE 1: NDA SLASHES EXPENDITURE
The NDA has drastically slashed funding for the University Grants Commission (UGC) by 55 per cent (from Rs 9,315 crore in 2015-2016 to just Rs 4,286 crore in 2016-17). Because of the move, the UGC has been forced to drastically slash allocations to universities.
- Colleges are, in turn, being forced to pass on this burden to students (as in Panjab University, when fees was hiked by 1,110 per cent or in IIT-Bombay, where fees were hiked by 55 per cent while hostel fees was hiked by 300 per cent) or to reduce the intake of students (for example, there has been an 84 per cent cut in MPhil and PhD seats in Central University of Gujarat, Jawaharlal Nehru University etc. Similarly, over 6,000 seats are vacant in the IITs, IIMs and NITs, while over 7,000 are vacant in Delhi University).
- The NDA has cut funding for research centres across the country that pursue research on Dalits, BR Ambedkar’s philosophy and social justice.
CHARGE 2- NDA UNLEASHES ANTI-STUDENT POLICIES
- Further converting India’s higher education institutes into commercial ventures, NDA is replacing grants given by the union government with 10-year loans through the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) which are to be recovered through enhanced fees, selling the research of students etc.
- The NDA has subtly unleashed an unprecedented commodification of higher education in the name providing autonomy to 60 higher education institutes (including five central universities, 21 state universities and 24 deemed universities through a UGC notification). The NDA has decided that no funds will be provided to these, meaning that these will be sustained only through hefty fee hikes.
- Contravening a Supreme Court judgement, NDA’s National Medical Commission bill increases management quota in medical education by over 50%, thus enhancing the scope of capitation fees and reducing access to affordable medical education, especially for SC/ST/OBCs.
- The NDA has severely constricted the scope and scale of scholarships. For example, scholarships worth Rs 5,000-8,000 for MPhil and PhD students selected for research programmes have been abruptly cut. 49 lakh students have been adversely affected because of delayed scholarships.
- The NDA has deliberately withheld Rs. 13,107 crores of the Post-Matric scholarship for Dalits and Adivasis (Rs 10,236 for SCs and Rs 2,871 for STs).
- Students have either harassed officially by the state machinery or unofficially by the ABVP:
- For example, the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle of IIT Madras was banned.
- RSS man Gajendra Chauhan was appointed as the Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, ignoring that Chauhan had no qualifications to grace the position.
- Students Union elections have been banned in Himachal Pradesh University (HPU).
- Student activists in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi were put in jail on trumped up charges and charged with sedition.
- Rather than curbing such vile attacks, India’s finance minister Arun Jaitley, dismissed universities as “alliance(s) of subversion”.
- 48% of all teaching positions in higher education institutions have been lying vacant simply because the NDA withheld teachers’ appointments for five years. There are over 1.6 lakh lecturers’ posts vacant in rural colleges.
- The unit of reservation in universities and colleges has been shifted from the university/ college to a department. Consequently, a mere 7.22 per cent of faculty members are Dalits across 716 universities across India, and many more are getting excluded.
- NDA’s National Education Policy enhances privatisation, commercialisation and communalisation. The proposed NEP is in clear contradiction with the constitutional vision of a common education system.
- The NDA has arbitrarily declared select higher educational institutions as ‘Institutions of Eminence’. These don’t have to regulate fees or reservation policy.
- Forums like Indian Science Congress which were earlier used to inculcate and nurture scientific temper are now used to propagate farcical claims like PM Modi’s claim that “Karna was born using stem cell technology” and Tripura CM Biplab Deb’s comment that the internet existed during the times of Mahabharata are case in point.