Over the past few weeks, the Congress-led UPA government has unleashed a fresh set of attacks on the lives and livelihoods of the common people of India. The cap imposed on the number of LPG cylinders made available at subsidised rates has hit the people hard. The adverse effect of this decision is already being felt by students all across the country.
In Delhi, the rate at which LPG cylinders are made available to hostels has gone up by a whopping Rs. 676 rupees – the current rate is Rs. 1075 per cylinder compared to the earlier Rs. 399 per cylinder. To cite another example, in Tamil Nadu, the rate at which cylinders are made available to schools providing food to students under the mid-day meal scheme is now Rs. 1191.50, compared to the subsidised rate of Rs. 419.50 for domestic consumers. Hostels and schools have now been included in the “non-domestic” category, which means that they will be forced to pay rates that are far higher than the rate paid by domestic consumers even on non-subsidised cylinders.
The implications of these rate hikes are grievous. Mid-day meal schemes have been seriously affected already in many parts of the country. Hostel mess bills are set to go up sharply, which would put education out of reach for a substantial section of students. The affected hostels include numerous SC/ST/BC hostels with millions of residents. Among non-hostellers, more students would be going hungry as a result of the adverse impact of this retrograde decision on their families. The overall result would be that the dropout rates of students, particularly that of those belonging to deprived sections, would rise steeply, and education would become increasingly the preserve of the elite minority.
The SFI Central Executive Committee appeals to the students of the country to rise up against this reactionary move by the central government, and calls upon its state units to strengthen protest actions to force the government to roll back its decision.