By committee of Forum for Students’ Democracy
Restoring students unions in all over India is a key demand which has been regularly kept by all progressive, secular and democratic forces of the country. This is because students unions are very fundamental tools in order to engage our youths in the political process, avoid their alienation from political system and integrate them within the process. Rampant corruption, assaults on basic human rights and fundamental rights like freedom of expression, freedom of press, ensured in our constitution, have become routine of our governments and administrations in the country. This has encouraged fake encounters, corruption, attacks on minorities and securitizations of human life.
Education campuses without freedom to speak, freedom to engage in intellectual and rational deliberations are no more than prisons. This is what students’ life without elected unions in campuses has become these days. Students in Jamia or elsewhere unions are not allowed are deprived to raise their genuine demands for fellowships, hostel, better mess facilities, quality and hygiene, transparency in expenses of students welfare funds and secrecy in entire monetary transactions has become regular show.
May I ask why students of Jamia, majority of them are from financially poor background, are not given 100% hostel facility, why they are asked to vacate their hostels in each and every small long vacation despite their studentship continues? Do you know an average student of Jamia is spending 61000 rupees per year just because Jamia administration does not want them to given them their due rights. On the other side, an average student of BA-MA in JNU does not spend except what he or she does as pocket money which is not included in case of Jamia’s students average expense of 61000. What is state of health service for Jamia students despite the fact that Jamia students are more vulnerable to diseases because of their pathetic living in absence of better hostel and mess facilities? This is just one issue.
As a common students’ aspiration to achieve, what are the employability of Jamia students. Apart from Mass Com, MBA, Engineering and other professional courses, unemployment or underemployment is a common feature of Jamia graduates. Who is responsible for this situation? What about security of students? You must be aware that Jamia students are more prone to intelligence services’ harassment whose men freely move in the campus to interrogate and harass, summon and sometime pick them without informing Jamia administration. I do not wish to mention brutal police action against Jamia Students in SRK hostel in 2000 when hundreds of students were beaten up by Delhi police and action taken against nobody except students. I have filed an RTI to Jamia in this regard also.
What is your opinion whether a students’ life is just for his family, his own life? Should a student as a young citizen not think, better think about his society, people, issues of national and international concerns, policy debates and as well as contribute in the national policy making with his her fresh thinking and ideas? Why Jamia Millia Islamia administration is afraid of battle of ideas, free intellectual discussions, and truly free academic environment? That is why I am forced to challenge very idea of Jamia administration which is controlled by IAS and Military personnel rather than qualified academicians. In JNU, BHU, Hyderabad University and most of the top ranked universities, only academicians are allowed to become vice chancellors? Why our government tends to impose on Jamia students a man who never used to be an academician and dictate academic community on his will and academic community is forced to be dictated by his terms. I consider it as insult to academic community that their ability to administer their own affairs is underestimated and governments’ handpicked administrators are imposed on us.
Sir, Demand to install Students Union in Jamia Millia Islamia is by no way is politically motivated. It is simply motivated by true and genuine aspirations to become an ideal academic community at par with other academic communities in the other Indian universities with national importance. Life of Jamia students and their teachers is as dignified and respected as of any other university. I strongly believe that without students union their dignity is seriously attacked.
There are excuses against students unions. Intervention of local elements, Jamia minority status and law and order are among most floated ones. Intervention by local elements in absence of students union is very much there, issues of students’ security, is nowhere talked. Students do not have any space to discuss whatever they read in their books. Only union can ensure that students discuss their each and everything in union and within campus because union will be the agency to redress their concerns. Jamia minority status is once again been raised. This is unfortunate that union’s role in restoring Jamia’s minority status role is easily neglected. Let the student’s community and academic community know how Jamia’s Students Union has fought for its due status and every student must of proud of the role played by our union. Also law and order situation is being presented as another excuse of withholding student union. This is simply rejected as nowhere parliamentary democracy is being asked to be stayed until maintenance of law and order. Also union once in 10 years, as in case of Jamia, is not going to help us. Students union is a democratic institution elected and administered and relied upon by students’ community. Let the institution continue for some years at least so students’ confidence increase on it.
Sir, I am concluding my appeal with open heart and mind to take your blessings, guidance and supervision to restore the students union. As a student of Jamia, I am very much proud of you and your affiliation with this historic university. Our identity as a truly academic institution and as an ideal education campus where ideas and ideologies, human dignity and academic integrity rule our life rather than fear of police actions, encounters, expulsions, fear of proctor office and authoritarian leadership.
Our request to you is
· Press the administration to allow students union
· To not issue warning to students talking about their rights
· To allow students express their opinions in favour or against the demand
· To allow students organizations to be part of our debate and discussions and our campus life
· To allow students organizations and any concerned group of students, individual student to suggest his or her model of union and its details
· To end the rule of fear and warnings.
As struggle committee, we are also committed to high standards and values required for students democracy.
· We will not allow, encourage or support any form of violence, immoral or unconstitutional ways of struggle
· We will not allow, encourage or support any form of insult to our respected teachers, academic and non-academic staff
· We will not allow, encourage or support any form of hatred, feud or conflict
· Our ultimate goal is dignity for academic community which is incomplete without freedom to administer their life in their campuses, be it the teachers association, staff association, workers association or the students union.
Students union is for better future of our campus, our community, our society and this nation and your support for our future is integral for our struggle.
AFROZ ALAM SAHIL (Jamia Millia Islamia)
ADIL AHMAD (Aligarh Muslim University)
OMAIR ANAS (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
SHARIB ZIA (Delhi University)
KAMALA KANTA DASH (Monash University, Australia)