The Occupy UGC movement looks irrelevant or ridiculous to the middle and upper classes in India because it can be made to appear so by the media. Not surprisingly, television channels and leading dailies either ignored the protests altogether, or worse, focused on the apparently far more *critical* issue of the “vandalism” and “disfigurement” of the ITO metro station by the protesting students. Times of India said they were “brazening it out” after their acts of vandalism, and on social media including Kafila, these student vandals have been additionally belittled by some as misguided pawns in the hands of an apparent conglomerate of ambitious lefty professors from JNU! Basically, anything but a legitimate set of demands, some of which this poster from the movement tries to explain…
(Incidentally, it was this image that was painted on the walls of the ITO metro station. Personally I found it cheerful).
Anyway, as Camalita Naicker reminded us in her excellent article on South Africa here on Kafila, student protests against rising student fees and shrinking scholarships and fellowships are no flash in the pan but a burgeoning worldwide phenomenon cutting across political affiliations. This is because you don’t need to be a leftist to understand that in contemporary conditions, pursuing a higher education is both the only guarantee to economic security, and the one thing that may be denied to you if you are from the wrong side of the tracks.
We post below statements from #OccupyUGC and #Occupy SOAS in support of each other. These have been sent to us by Akash Bhattacharya, research scholar in history at JNU.