The latest judgment of the Supreme Court on the issue of reservation in higher education has come out. The judgement is based on a batch petitions filed by some MBBS doctors who complained about eligibility criteria for admissions to certain PG medical courses in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. These states permitted only those domiciled in these states to get admitted into these courses. The court went beyond the immediate question before it and gave sweeping comments over the reservation policy as a whole. A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant went on to state that despite several reminders to the central and state governments to make merit the primary criteria for admissions into super-specialty courses, the ground reality remains that ‘reservation often holds sway over merit’. This false dichotomy of deserve versus reserve has been constantly used by the ruling classes to deny social justice to the marginalised and oppressed sections of the society.
The Central Executive Committee of SFI condemns the statement on Reservation by the Supreme Court. Any move to scrap reservation in education sector will be resisted strongly. It is also a matter of deep concern that such a statement is coming at a time when the anti-reservation forces are in power at the center. The Supreme Court judgment is something which stands against the notion of social justice. SFI urges all the state governments and central government to reject the Supreme Court statement. We also demand the reservation should be properly implemented in all educational institutions including private sector.
It has been consistently proved by eminent academics that the efficiency argument used to oppose the reservation does not stand logical scrutiny.
SFI demands that the Super speciality courses in the medical stream should be no exception to the reservation policy and it is the need of hour to ensure that the higher education which remains the privilege of the elites of the society should be democratised.
The Central Executive Committee of SFI calls upon all its units across the nation to intensify it's struggles and campaigns to restore and increase the non-NET fellowships. The UGC's decision to scrap non-NET fellowships has been hold back till the next meeting followed by a strong anger raised by the students immediately . But more struggles are essential to make sure that this decision will be taken back forever. SFI has decided to observe a 'Protest Week' from 28 October to 03 November against the Modi govt scripted anti-student move using UGC.
The recent move of UGC cannot be seen in isolation with the assault of neo-liberal policies rigorously launched by the Modi led NDA government. This will also be in keeping with the government’s move to open up education as a tradable commodity under WTO-GATS.
SFI demand the non-NET fellowships be granted to the researchers in all universities in India and it should also be increased immediately. These fellowships have played a crucial role in helping the M.Phil. and Ph.D. research scholars of the Central Universities in India to sustain themselves. Researchers from deprived backgrounds will be the most hit by the new decision as should be obvious. Especially in the case of women researchers, the lack of financial independence make them susceptible to familial pressures to leave research. The overall result would be the weakening of research in the country, undermining its knowledge base and intellectual self-reliance even as it makes research degrees inaccessible to the deprived sections of society. It has to be noted that the neo-liberal regime which complains about the lack of resources have already given a tax exemption of 5.89 lack crores to the corporate sector in the last budget. And there are further plans to reduce corporate taxes even more.
SFI will launch a series of protests across the nation in the coming week under the call of 'Protest Week'. SFI will blockade all the regional centres of UGC ( Banglore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Guwahati, Bhopal and Delhi) demanding an immediate action in favour of the researchers in India. The students will burn the copies of the Minutes of the infamous UGC meeting which reached to the decision to scrap non-NET fellowships. There will also be effigy burning of the prime minister Narendra Modi who ruthlessly pursues the neo-liberal policies which worsen the life of all sections in this country including students and researchers. There will be protest gatherings, student rallies etc to pressurise UGC and Central government to withdraw the draconian decision. There is already an online petition (available at the link) started by SFI and we request all the academic and democratic community to sign it. The CEC of SFI gives a call to all unites to organise different campaigns and struggles to make the 'Protest Week' a grand success. We appeal all the sections of academia and common people to join hands and stand up unitedly to resist the assaults on students and to save the research and inclusive education in India.
The central Executive Committee of SFI expresses its deep concern over the increasing incidents of caste atrocities and communal polarization across various states. The situation is particularly alarming in the BJP-ruled states. In the latest incidence, Upper caste Rajputs set fire to the home of a Dalit family in Sunpedh, a village in Faridabad near the national capital Delhi, killing both the sleeping children inside aged 2 years and 9 months while their parents have suffered severe burn injuries.
We would like to underline that these are not isolated incidents of violence, rather these are a clear reflection of the situation wherein anti-Dalit, anti-minority forces have emboldened ever since BJP has come to power. A large chunk of the society is being denied even their constitutionally provided rights including the right to live. A conscious effort has been launched by the Sangh Parivar to divide the people of this nation over religious and caste lines.
The regressive and social chauvinist ideologies are also penetrating the young minds in the schools and colleges. A sustained campaign is needed to isolate such forces and strengthen the principle of equality. A larger unity among all the democratic and progressive forces is the need of the hour to defeat this Saffron agenda to divide the people to loot the nation. The Central Executive Committee of SFI calls upon all the units to initiate campaigns upholding equality and organize ‘flames of equality’ along with class based discussion forums on these questions in the coming week.
The central executive committee of SFI strongly condemns the latest move of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to scrap Non-NET fellowships for the researchers. SFI urge its units across the nation to be vigilant and be ready to resist any such anti-student moves. Such a move is coming at a juncture when the researchers from all the streams are demanding for an enhancement in Non-NET so that they could pursue their academic endeavour and do quality research. Higher education is already inaccessible to a large section of the society due to paucity of public investment in education and increasing commercialization. Scraping non-NET fellowships will be heavy blow to the researchers in India who are already struggling to survive with the meagre allowances handed out to them.
This latest move should be read in connection with the hardcore neo-liberal policies followed by the present NDA government. The trend has been set by the Budget itself . The budgeted expenditure by the central government on education has seen a colossal decline this year. The Department of Higher Education has seen its allocation cut from Rs. 16,900 crore to Rs. 15,855.26 crore. The fund cuts in real terms (after taking into account inflation) are much larger. The funds allocated to the UGC had stagnated at last year’s levels, which amounts to a cut in real terms. The allocation for the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research has been cut by 25%.The total expenditure on education - Rs.68,968 crores - is a paltry 3.88% of the central budget, a far cry from the longstanding demand of the student community that 10% of the budget be spent on education.
It was pointed out by SFI that the result of such fund cuts will be a worsening of the quality of public education in India, which would then be used as an excuse for further commercialisation and privatisation of education, thus rendering education inaccessible to the vast majority of students in the country. Confirming our apprehensions, the UGC chairman Ved Prakash said a decision was taken in the last meeting of the commission. He said such decision was taken after receiving many complaints saying that merit was not being taken into account in awarding these fellowships.
This meritocratic argument is designed to keep a large sections of students away from entering the field of research and thus paving a smooth way for rigorous privatization. The students get enrolled as researchers only after proving their merit at different levels through the passing of entrance examinations and obtaining qualifying marks. It should also be noted that such superfluous arguments are being made at a time when those who have no qualification except being the ideological henchmen of Sangh Parivar are placed at the top of different educational and cultural institutions. If the government and UGC are really concerned about improving the quality of research in India, it should be done, not by taking away whatever meagre facilities the students of this nation have but by providing them more facilities and scholarships and improving the educational infrastructure with better facilities. It should also be done by strengthening the public education and providing education to all.
The central executive committee of SFI demands the non-NET fellowships be increased immediately and it should be extended to all universities and research centres in India. SFI strongly demands the immediate withdrawal from the move to scrap non-NET fellowships. We appeal to the student community across the nation to be united to defeat anti-student plan of NDA government and UGC. SFI calls upon all its units to rise up against this new assault being launched by the Modi government on students using the UGC.