Students Occupy UGC to Defend the Right to Research in Universities Across India: Sucheta De

Guest Post by Sucheta De.

[ Videos by V. Arun, Om Prasad, Akhil Kumar, with Facebook Post Updates by Shehla Rashid and Akhil Kumar ]


#SaveNonNETfellowship: A movement for ensuring democratic, inclusive and pluralistic research in India

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.”

― Karl MarxThe German Ideology

JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid addressing protestors at UGC
JNUSU vice president Shehla Rashid addressing protestors at UGC HQ, Delhi

On the afternoon of 21st October, students from several universities in Delhi began ‘Occupying’ the Delhi premises of the head-office of University Grants Commission (UGC) –  the government mandated body under the Ministry of Human Resources that is supposed to govern the functioning of universities across the country.  The occupation continued through the night of the 21st, the day of the 22nd, and is still currently in process. The students occupying the UGC premises have decided, as of now, not to let the UGC function. Goons from the BJP aligned students organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) have now reached the UGC and are continuously harassing and abusing the student activists who are in ‘occupation’ of UGC. There is heavy police presence. There is a state of near siege at the UGC head quarters near ITO Chowk in Delhi.

Protests Continue at the UGC HQ Through the Nights
Protests Continue at the UGC HQ Through the Nights

Why did students feel compelled to take this step? This article is an attempt to understand these compulsions.

The immediate provocation for the student’s sense of outrage was the recommendation made by the UGC to cancel a whole set of fellowships given to students engaged in research at the M.Phil and Ph.D level. What are these fellowships, and what will their proposed cancellation amount to?

Burning Effigies at Night - Fighting to Save Education

The University Grants Commission Non-National Eligibility Test (UGC Non-NET) Fellowship Scheme was started in 2008 to encourage research in universities in India. So far, it has proved to be a life-line for researchers who do not have access to other scholarships. It has encouraged students from very different socio-economic backgrounds to enter and continue research and higher education. Currently, the UGC Non NET Fellowship offers a stipend of Rupees 5,000 for M.Phil Students, and Rupees 8,000 for Ph.D students. In fact, what is required today is to increase the amount from the paltry sum of 5000 for M.Phil students and 8000 for Ph.D students and also extend the fellowship to all central and state universities in India. The demand to increase the stipend in keeping with rising inflation, so that research scholars can bear the cost of staying in higher education has been a demand of many student organizations.

The present BJP led government at the centre, deploys its favourite slogan – “#MakeInIndia” –  with considerable fanfare to grant loan waivers and subsidies to giant corporate houses and to tamper with labour laws in order to ensure cheap and compliant labour for the extraction of super profits. It does not however think it at all necessary to recognize, or even acknowledge, the  democratic process of knowledge production in India and by students in Indian universities !

What else can explain the UGC’s decision ?

The recent move by UGC to stop the non NET fellowship for M.Phil. and Ph.D. students not only exposes the lies and deceit of the hollow slogans of the Modi government, but if seen in context of other government decisions in recent years such as- imposition of semester system, programmes like FYUP and CBCS and also frequent fund cuts,  points towards a systematic effort by the last as well as the current government to create a level playing field for Education to be sold off as a tradable service to the highest bidder. This would be in keeping with the likely outcome of the deliberations of the Tenth Ministerial Conference of WTO  to be held from 15-18 December  2015 at Nairobi, Kenya, which will have massive repercussions for education, at a global scale.

In 2005, the Congress led UPA government had expressed its readiness to allow traders in education from all  WTO compliant entities (across the world) by ‘OFFERING’ to establish colleges, universities and other technical or professional institutions in India as for-profit commercial ventures. However, perhaps keeping in view the strong adverse reaction such a move would have provoked, a ‘final commitment’ was not made at that time,  leaving space for any future  government to withdraw the ‘offer’.

As the December 2015 WTO Conference approaches, the present BJP government, despite all its ‘Nationalist’ claims, is openly demonstrating its keenness to submit to WTO diktats, thereby ensuring a complete ‘Sell Out’ of Higher Education !  The withdrawal of a whole tranche of research fellowships has become a policy goal the for current government, because this is the kind of signal (of creating a ‘level playing field’ for new entrants to the Education Bazaar) that it it needs to to send to the WTO. This is what will enable  a new commercial sector of ‘for-profit’ educational institutions that can also can help meet the target of dismantling the infrastructure of public support to higher education and research in state and central universities across India.

JNUSU's Letter to UGC on October 21, 2015
JNUSU’s Letter to UGC on October 21, 2015

On 20 October 2015, as soon as the news of a resolution being passed in UGC for withdrawal of fellowships was received, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) immediately called for a protest at UGC office on the following day afternoon i.e. 21 October 2015. A letter from rom the JNUSU to the UGC authorities protesting the recommendation to cut the NonNet Fellowships was despatched (and received by the UGC) on October 21st itself. Several left and progressive sections supported the call and on 21 October the UGC office was swarmed by hundreds of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi (JMI) and Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD). The students were given assurances that ‘meetings’ with UGC officials would ‘continue’, but they were not given any direct response to their demand. Accordingly, the students decided to stay the night and ‘Occupy’ the UGC HQ Premises.

The students who gathered there included students keen on pursuing research in near future and also several hundreds of students already pursuing research and hence in no danger of having their existing fellowship ended and students not yet pursuing research and who may or may not pursue research. They had gathered with a common agenda and a common slogan that was amply clear in their posters and the graffiti that they painted at night inside the UGC office

It is extremely shameful and condemnable that the UGC chairperson Ved Prakash refused to meet the student delegation and the students were harassed. Undeterred, they entered the UGC premises by evening, refusing to leave the premises till their demand of reverting this decision was accepted. The slogans of #SaveNonNETfellowship trended not just on social media but echoed in and around UGC office.

The number of students began to gradually increase as the evening approached the night time. #OccupyUGC till demands are met was the next decision of the gathered students. The entire night was spent chanting slogans singing protest songs and painting.

Education - Not for Sale - #OccupyUGC
Education – Not for Sale – #OccupyUGC

They continued to remain there despite having faced assaults that led students getting injured. AISA leader and former JNUSU Vice president Anant Prakash Nayaran was hit on the head and had to be rushed to the emergency. The police stationed in the UGC took their sheer insensitivity to the level that they disallowed protesting women students from even using restroom to relieve themselves!! However, nothing stopped the students from continuing to gather. In fact, as the night passed and sun arose, more students begin to join.

It is important here to also highlight the role of the ABVP (student wing of RSS) that is in full majority in Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) and also has a presence in JNUSU in the form of Jt. Secretary of JNUSU and a few councillors. Not only did ABVP remain absent from any attempts at mobilization and from the site of protest, but as the night of 21 October approached, they began a deceitful and slanderous campaign to weaken the student movement. On the midnight of 22 October, they brought out a protest poster calling students to gather outside UGC on 26 October (when students were already occupying the UGC office). The very next morning, they did a quick u-turn and suddenly began to claim that their representatives had met the HRD Minister Smriti Irani who had accepted their demands.

They publicized a ‘letter’ from them, dated 21 October, that they said they had submitted to the MHRD office The copy of this letter that they made public only carried a  ‘received’ stamp (dated 21 October 2015).

If the minister had indeed accepted their demands following from a meeting that the ABVP had with her on the 21st of October, than what was the necessity of their  giving a call for a protest in the early hours of 22 October and also, why is their a continuing reluctance on their part  to show an official notification from the Ministry stating that their demand had been met?

A copy of a memorandum with a ‘received’ stamp from those it has been submitted to proves nothing. Neither that a demand has been accepted, nor that it has been rejected. When the ABVP’s lies were busted, they begin another yet slander campaign claiming that all positions in the UGC were occupied by “communists”.

Has ABVP forgotten that the the UGC comes directly under the MHRD which is run by a BJP minister who is known to openly take orders from, and report to, the extreme right wing RSS? Does the ABVP not know of RSS appointees to the UGC such as Inder Mohan Kapahy (a founding member of NDTF, the front organisation of RSS active amongst university teachers)? Can they produce any dissenting note authored by Mr. Kapahy, say in the wake of the 7th October meeting of the UGC during which the decision to stop the UGC Non NET Fellowship was taken? Does the ABVP not know of BJP’s stand on WTO?

As students forget about holidays and festivities and unite to defend their rights and to safeguard democratized and quality research production in India, all the ABVP can think of doing are attempts at slander and efforts to sabotage and betray the students’ mobilization.

Even as I write this – after two days of occupy struggle at UGC, a few goons from ABVP have appeared at  UGC. They are hurling vile sexist abuses at us, the protesters who are inside the UGC Building Campus and are even throwing stones at us from the outside. The police is present, watching The claims of the right-wing goons about their respect / samman for ma (mother) and bah (sites) is quite evident in the frequency with which they invoke these two words (mother and sister) in the prefixes to the abuses that they hurl at us. These are the people who will protect ‘Indian Culture’ in university campuses. They are doing a very fine job of executing what they profess here at the UGC headquarters. Apart from showing their deep respect to mothers and sisters by hurling abuses about mothers and sisters, the only purpose of their late night visit seems to be to threaten and intimidate the peaceful student protesters in the building.

We, the students who are committed to defending Universities as spaces for higher research accessible to all will not allow ourselves to be made into playthings by the UGC authorities, the RSS compliant mandarins of the Ministry of Human Resources Development or for that matter by the ABVP goons and their masters. Democratic and open access to research in higher education is far too important an issue for us to allow this to happen.

The domain of research for long has remained the tool to ensure socio-cultural and economic reproduction. There was a time when only those with tremendous economic and socio-cultural capital could afford to spend their youth carrying out research while others from non-elite sections struggled to earn their livelihoods and ensure their survival. Just think of a 25 year old Indian male or female coming from an under-privileged background who has somehow managed to complete a post-graduate degree despite severe economic constraints.

Students Pressure on UGC - Courtesy 'Pinjra Tod' (Break the Cage)
Students Pressure on UGC – Courtesy ‘Pinjra Tod’ (Break the Cage)

Given the division of gender roles that operates in a patriarchal society like ours,  in all likelihood the pressure on the male student would be to not even think of pursuing research but focus on finding a job in order to sustain the family. At the same time,  the pressure on the female student is to marry, immediately,  with parents and other elders telling her that any further delay in marriage will significantly hamper the prospects of finding a ‘desirable’ groom’. For the vast majority of young men and women the pressures to enter the job market are so huge that most would not be in a position to consider the option of research and further study without the incentive of a fellowship. As it is, for youth hailing from unprivileged, oppressed and marginalised sections, pursuing research is a much discouraged and moreover near impossible to pursue option.

The UGC Non NET fellowship, as it stands at present, is meagre, and actually needs to be enhanced if it is to really meet the needs of the students it is supposed to help. Instead of thinking in that direction, the UGC has actually recommended scrapping it altogether. There is something really perverse in this desire to willfully trample the hopes and expectations of millions of young people in India. It is a slap on their face – telling them – don’t even think about pursuing a desire for intellectual enrichment. Do not ask basic and fundamental questions. Kill your curiosities and desires to enter and engage with an intellectually vibrant life.

It should be noted that research involves not merely a perusal and memorization or comprehension of what has been already discovered and theorized but sincere efforts to add to, modify or replace the existing body of knowledge. Anyone who has pursued research will tell you how undertaking quality research is an extremely expensive pursuit. The expenses range from buying  numerous books, to procuring Xeroxes worth thousands, to having to gain membership and travel to near and distant libraries, to procuring expensive chemicals or lab apparatus or other devices, to traveling the length and breadth of the country in order to gather primary data (which involves incurring  costs in the form of travel, stay and sustenance during the field work period), to procuring expensive software packages for undertaking analysis and the expenses incurred during the process of printing and submission. And these are only approximate assessments of the costs involved! Added to this is the cost of ‘postponing’ or deferring one’s entry into the job market in order to complete one’s quest as a researcher.

Can one even imagine that a common youth from a deprived background or even from an average middle class background would be able to pursue research in the absence of public funding guaranteed by institutions? Can we be silent or vocal supporters of a system of knowledge production that blatantly privileges some sections and excludes others? The democratization of the process of knowledge production is essential not just to enable all youths, irrespective of their background to pursue research, but also to ensure that the ‘ruling ideas’ dominating our course books and academic and socio-political discourses are not the ideas of just the monolithic majoritarian ruling establishment! For our knowledge systems to be contextual, sensitive to the specific problems confronting our society and nation and reflective of our plurality, the process of their production must necessarily be inclusive. Thus, the cost of research endeavour must be borne by the state from the funds that citizens pay as taxes. The government must realise that the number of years a student spends to pursue M.Phil. or Ph.D. are not just years spent in persuasion of a degree but years spent in the production  knowledge.

Even in the past two days alone students have shown they are not willing to relent on this question. Today not only in the national capital but as far as even Arunachal Pradesh, voices of protest are growing louder. At the UGC office, the effigies of the Prime Minister leading this neo-liberal attack and his stooge in UGC, the UGC chairperson Ved Prakash, were burnt. The students have decided to continue with their protest and continue occupy UGC even tomorrow and not let any official work happen till their demands are met.

It is noteworthy that in times when the leading corporates in the country are busy making fun of students’ struggle against sale of education, the student and youth are showing their mettle and  proving what they are made of. At this juncture of our struggle, I extend my appreciation for common students across universities who have come together to fight for a more egalitarian higher education. Our fight for a democratic, secular, scientific and inclusive education will continue.

Join the movement to #SaveNonNETfellowship and gather in UGC to #OccupyUGC till our demands are met!

Students United Shall Always be Victorious.

Sucheta De is the National President of the All India Students Association  (AISA)

POST SCRIPT : Even as this is being edited. The Police finally cracked down on us. The ABVP goons outside are untouched. We have been taken to Bhalswa Police Station at the Outskirts of Delhi. Here are two status updates from two comrades, Shehla Rashid and Akhil Kumar who have been taken in by the police.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 of Shehla Rashid's Facebook Post
Screen Shot 2015-10-22 of Shehla Rashid’s Facebook Post
Screen Shot 2015-10-23 of Akhil Kumar's Facebook Posting
Screen Shot 2015-10-23 of Akhil Kumar’s Facebook Posting

26 thoughts on “Students Occupy UGC to Defend the Right to Research in Universities Across India: Sucheta De”

  1. Good that these leftist goons are driven out. Finally a strong government is reigning them. Next step should be to scrap JNU because that is the last refuge of communist in India, everywhere else they have been wiped out.

    1. hahhaha!! of course… orwell wrote a strong critique of communism in 1984.. all of that came true under a right wing government though!
      scrap JNU sure…. and then a university which has produced brilliant scholars will be gone! because that’s what we need. degradation. of everything!! sure!
      and where everywhere else have they been wiped out?
      its funny how i notice a pattern. The idea of Left is always alive in universities and centres of education. maybe when people learn they know better. when they don’t they just follow the state. well they are incapable of producing any knowledge by themselves! and hence
      “IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” becomes true!

      1. Communism has almost disappeared from the planet without bloody revolutions. It is Indian government’s generous funding that it survives on the JNU Campus. Not all Universities are so well funded, and therefore, do not produce privileged individuals who carry labels of scholar and intellectual but have little understanding of Indian masses. These ignorant are responsible for the wipe out of the Communist parties from the Indian political scene.

  2. This is just a classic example of “left propaganda” to give a bad name to Modi, by giving voice to any group to build up public anger against the government. The job of students is to study, not to protest.

    What I don’t understand is why students do not realise a commonsensical notion that nowadays education is business. Each department is a profit centre. Naturally when universities don’t pay up something had to be done about it.

    if the students can’t get any freebies, which they were used to, they can always avail loans from market to study. Congress government had cultivated povertarian strategies by putting in place systems which relies on paying money to buy loyalties. These students are addicted to money.

    It is only fair and good that the state had rolled back on freebies. The songs, chants, slogans, negotiations have almost become a cliche. Watching images of protesting students one actually knows how it will end. The protest of students will eventually die down, as it did at FTII.

    I would hope to see the police clear up this childish-mess as soon as possible, stern action must be taken against students for disallowing public servants to do their duty.

    The left-liberal mindset would naturally term replies such as this one as sickening, nauseating and shocking, which only goes on to show how far removed from reality these people are.

    1. When i protest against price rise,
      You call me anti business,
      When i protest against curbing of freedom,
      You label me a left liberal,
      When i protest for the poor,
      You call me a communist,
      When i protest for my education right,
      You label education as a commodity,
      When i assert my right,
      You call police,
      When i speak,
      When i question,
      When i ask,
      You call it a propaganda,
      Yes, it is a propaganda for rights,
      Rights to have an egalitarian society,
      Propaganda to peel out your propaganda,
      Your propaganda blinded by money,
      Your propaganda backed by the rich,
      Your propaganda which curb the freedom to question,
      Your propaganda which crushes any thought,
      A thought , a question which your propaganda fear,
      A fear which sustains on belittling our protest,
      Alas! We will continue our propaganda,
      A propaganda to fight for our dignity,
      A propaganda to fight against poverty,
      A propaganda to fight against inequality,
      A propaganda to fight for freedom,
      A propaganda to fight for humanity,
      A propaganda to smash your propaganda.

      1. May be, protest and propaganda are the only solutions for all the issues enlisted by you. Compliments for finding easy and simple solutions for too many problems.

  3. As the other comments point out quite enthusiastically, the Government has been planning this for a while. The paid media and trolls have extended their entire support to every fascist decision of the government, and now the plan is to enslave the entire country to western companies and their #MakeInIndia project. This is the face of neo-colonialism.

    1. To the elite leftist slogan shouting student protesters of JNU in favor of poor, unprivileged and marginalized students who wish to pursue some research, I wish to show a mirror.
      Please visit a State University in nearby UP or any other state, or even in Delhi, and see how they compare with JNU. The amount of national money spent on the glamorous JNU is comparatively enormous, but it has become an efficient factory of mass production of the elite leftists. On the other hand, nation’s poor get educated in impoverish state universities lacking proper facilities and teachers. As a result, the JNU elite does not even know that a poor college degree holder would prefer a job rather than do directionless and meaningless. research. Unlike these elites, he/she has to support his/her parents or siblings. Marxism is a fashion for these people and not a conviction.

      1. Could you give some figures please, Ram? Just like your other sweeping generalisations, this theory about JNU being pampered is charming, but government education policy functions on categories of public, partially-funded, state/central, undergraduate/postgraduate, number of schools and departments, teacher-student ratio, sanctioned strength of faculty and teaching assistants, science and social science infrastructure, laboratories and research centres…I could go on, but you get the drift. These are concrete, on-paper, recorded policies, with parliamentary and legislative support and accountability. So JNU gets as much funding as it is eligible for, all these above factors taken into consideration. There is much that is wrong with public funded education, but surely you are not so naive as to suggest that private funders are devoid of agendas?

        And finally, this stereotype about fashionable, well-funded, elite Marxists is just so…convenient. Please put on your shoes, take the metro (I assume you are not elite enough to drive a car) and go have a look at the students who are protesting against the scrapping of the scholarship. Go on, take a look.

        1. Well, Sunalini, I must not contest your argument that JNU deserves the funding it gets. And those institutions which are poorly funded also deserve what they get. I doubt, an analogous statement, often made by privileged ones, that rich deserve to be rich and poor deserve to be poor would be acceptable to you. I am not sure how you explain the numerical dominance of leftist faculty and student bodies in JNU, but not in poor Universities. I am a product of a lowly state University, and have visited JNU couple of times. If you do the same, you would not ask for figures which are huge to be presented here. I have been to Communist countries, e.g., Soviet Union, and did not find a JNU equivalent there, although they did produce Nobel Laureates in all fields of learning. Elite leftists in privileged educational institutions happen only India.

  4. To me the photograph of a young student leader mentioned in the post is a record of the sterile anger of left-liberals. They do not understand that India gave left-liberals an opportunity to rule for 60 years. They used this opportunity to mark their territory, raise barriers of entry for others to join their class and relentlessly mock social conservatives for their “backwardness” on an everyday basis.

    It is not that social conservatives are stupid and not see how rich benefits from a neo-liberal system but social conservatives now want to deny left-liberal their territory by supporting the very forces which harms them the most.

    What can explain this self-harm? The real reason why social conservatives do not feel any fear from religious nationalists is because they do not have anything to lose and they are very, very angry.

    A decade of liberal rule in India also generated the most wealth in recent history and it left hordes of social conservatives out of the system. It appears left-liberals had a huge problem in re-distributing opportunity, respect and love which they were so used to getting in large numbers.

    The real job which history had entrusted left-liberals in India was to create conditions in society whereby social conservatives could become liberals and experience a liberal modernity. Left-liberals did not get their role right and acted hilariously to a wrong script.

    During this time left-liberals were so drunk on power that they lost their ideological compass. They began to openly flirt with religious nationalist themes. Social conservatives found open tent policy, the whatever works attitude and the hubris of left-liberals most disconcerting.

    Social conservatives have used religious nationalists to send a message to left-liberals. And it appears left-liberals do not have it in them to even read the message correctly.

    I sincerely hope religious nationalists scrap JNU, FTII, shut down Doon School, St. Stephens and all other academic institutions of left-liberals just to teach them a lesson. Social conservatives do not care if such a situation harms them or their children. They do not have anything to lose anything anyways.

    1. Yeah sure go on, shut down the universities and campuses that are at the forefront of research and academics. And then tell your nationalist lackeys to open universities for advancement of the benefits of gaumutra and gobar. Also some university about ancient plastic surgery. Also some institutes on the vedic robotics. Nationalist education and nationalist policy can also be given.

      My friend I will give you a valuable piece of advice. In the name of nationalism, you have been cheated. This government had never any plans for closing schools like doons because it is the Alma mater of many bjp leaders also. It will never close any FTII and JNU. It does not have the courage to do that. You can only hope but it will never happen. Atalji could not do it, so can’t modi. Now what will in fact happen is that institutions like IIFT, JNU will still stand 20-30 years from now, what will change though is your nationalist dream. Foreign universities like Harvard or MIT will establish campuses in India with the help of the same government that you thought were nationalists but all they will ever do is to sell this country to us and Britain piece by piece. And these universities will unleash elitism and left-liberal education in a scale that you, owing to your remarkable stupidity , could never see. The money govt. Will spend on this foreign university will shame you if you think JNU or FTII is elite.

      And people like you will be left in a dark corner, sobbing alone with your nationalist dream while liberals continue to head these is the future brother, the government gambled on the gullibility and stupidity of people like you and you have not disappointed it.

  5. Are you still binging on Fukuyama my friend? Haven’t you heard the news? Capitalism doesn’t need liberalism to thrive. Authoritarianism is a much better ally. Liberals have already lost Russia and Turkey. China and the Middle East was never theirs. They brutalised latin america and africa endlessly. Who can provide better authoritarianism than religious nationalists? So you tell me what’s the way wind is blowing?

    It is not possible for left-liberals to rule India with their pride. You miss the issue again. The issue is not why close JNU or FTII.

    The issue is why there wasn’t a FTII or JNU in every state in the first place? Why did Liberals, de facto masters of HRD ministry, not create conditions where a young girl from Pondicherry, or a young boy from Madhya Pradesh could understand what it meant to experience a liberal modernity, or what does it mean to be a liberal citizen?

    Why did left-liberals allow RSS to claim space of primary and secondary education? Why did it cede space in the first place? Why did no liberal say a word, or brought a piece of legislation to make a liberal education free and as a matter of right for each citizen in past 60 years? Why?

    Indian liberals are janus faced cowards. While in India they claim don’t go after the west, search within and find an authentic voice. The entire project of post-colonialism, post-modernism was based on a premise of fighting the west to claim an authentic voice. But while in west, they are at home with the most authentic western discourse ie Enlightenment. Have you ever wondered why educated liberals never really bother to explain what’s going on? Where’s the Spivak piece on Dadri? Where’s the Partha piece on Kalburgi?

    I really don’t understand why liberals cry hoarse should religious nationalists do away with their institutions and put nothing in place?

    You are probably right, religious nationalists will not shut down such institutions, they would merely create conditions to slow these institutions down. That would be an even more appropriate response.

    Four generations of social conservatives have waited patiently for past 60 years for their turn to come. A tiny proportion have even crossed the fence to the liberal side. But their disappointment was channelised by religious nationalists. Social conservatives are not going to cry hoarse, they are merely pissed.

    No one give two hoots about nationalism my friend. Social conservatives understand the real game is economic re-distribution. Social conservatives have put their in faith in Liberals for a long time now, liberals didn’t do much, they know they are not going to get anything in the present regime as well but they are denying territory to liberals, by supporting religious nationalists, which is good enough.

    Mark my words-Modi is going to stay for the second term, irrespective of outcome of Bihar, Bengal and UP.

    1. You claim that you are a “social conservative” and that you support the education ministry to discontinuing non-NET fellowships even tho the ministry and the government is, according to you, “religious nationalistic”. Could you kindly help me to understand what the Social Conservativists in India stand for (I understand they are angry). They want to conserve something – what might that be? Just curious.

      You seem to say that you like authoritarianism. Is that a core belief with the social conservatives? Surely, authoritarianism could sometimes become non-conservative or “destructive”, and there is nothing as such conservative about “capitalism”, except perhaps the conserving of the wealth of the elite. Could you please discuss?

      At one point you say that you want some elite educational institutions to be destroyed because there are not enough of them – I find that a bit confusing but maybe its just me.

      You briefly mention that “the real game is economic re-distribution.” Could you clarify whether you support or are against economic redistribution? If you do support some kind of redistribution, can you clarify what type of redistribution you support.

      You are angry with the “liberals” that they didn’t do “much”. What exactly were you wanting the “liberals” to do?

  6. I think WTO meeting in Nairobi in December has nothing to do with this funding. It may open up new entrants in higher education but has the govt. announced that it would cut its spending in higher education.My understanding is that UGC is not to sanction new fellowships and wants to review the current scheme and bring in new one. Will this affect those who are getting fellowships, now- this is unlikely but the new policy may affect potential fellows if the new scheme reduces the number of fellowships and amount is reduced. So the demand can be that the new scheme covers more no. of research fellows with enhanced fellowship norms with transparent norms for award of fellowships. UGC should have had a dialog with students instead of a crackdown on protests.

  7. I have learnt a lot from the exchange between Ram and Chaitanya – thanks to both of you for holding such strong views on the future of this country, the liberals who have let it down for 60 years – I am probably a liberal with an architectural degree from Delhi. Thanks for your comments about the social conservatives whom I find all around me in Bangalore and I agree that they are not very thrilled that the benefits of independence and democracy have passed them by. What I do wonder though is whether each of us is not a mix of liberalism and conservatism, once we have lived long enough as I have, and depending upon the “I have been done in” walla feeling we wake up with. Whether by the government, co-students from college now in distant countries, our spouses or even our kids. Or is this duality also a luxury which only the elite or the aged can enjoy?

    Can we build educational policies and institutions that factor in the ideological change that individuals go through as they get educated and get older?

    What would a JNU like institution have done for youth in Madhya Pradesh 40 or even 20years ago? Would it have had a leg to stand on, whom would it have attracted, what kind of student, from what kind of families? There is a museum of mankind in Bhopal – it was dead 20 years ago – not sure who lives there now, or visits it.

    Don’t students from distant states succumb to the lure of Dilli? To get that liberal education? We can’t build liberal institutions in non-liberal states like UP, Bihar and Haryana. It would have had to be Delhi. Liberal education and ideas were protected in Delhi, despite the influence of conservative societies from neighbouring states.

    Cities must earn liberal education institutions – they cannot be planted there by national or state governments.

    If Delhi is now under the siege of conservatives or nationalists then it is sad. This is another kind of knowledge in the making – a phase that the country must go through to become itself.

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