AISA-JNU to carry out Mashaal Juloos for an inclusive campus today, March 1

It is important to note that the rally comes ahead of the upcoming JNU Students' Union elections, which will be held for the first time in four years
Details below | Credit: EdexLive
Details below | Credit: EdexLive

Student leaders from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) unit of the All India Students’ Association (AISA)  will be carrying out a Mashaal Juloos or a torch rally, starting from Ganga to Chandrabhaga, today, Friday, March 1, to fight for an inclusive campus.

The student group claims that the university has undergone several systematic changes since 2014, throttling democracy and inclusivity on campus.

It is important to note that the rally comes ahead of the upcoming JNU Students' Union elections which will be held for the first time in four years.

Increase in scholarships, non-NET fellowships

One of the primary demands that the rally aims to highlight is an increase in Merit-cum-Means (MCM) scholarships. JNU offers a number of MCM scholarships to deserving students whose parent's or guardian's annual income is less than Rs 1,00,000. The scholarship is expected to cover the basic necessities of the student like mess bills and so on.

The student activists highlight that while the mess bills have increased from Rs 1,000 per month in 2012 to Rs 4,000 in 2024, the rate of MCM has stayed the same. Currently, the students receive Rs 2,000 per month which falls short of serving the intended purpose for students in need, the student group added.

Dhananjay, a student leader from AISA-JNU, spoke to EdexLive about the issue, “JNU is a public university where students from economically weaker backgrounds also come for education and opportunities. It should be the university’s duty to make this campus inclusive for every student so that every student can afford the facilities."

The student leaders also demanded the university put pressure on the University Grant Commission (UGC) for an increase in the Non-NET (National Eligibility Test) fellowship, which has remained at a stagnant rate of Rs 8,000 per month since 2008.

Fund and seat cuts

In 2014-15, JNU received Rs 37.35 crore from the Central government, while in 2021, it was reduced to Rs 11.99 crore, the student body highlighted.

“As a consequence, JNU was forced to take a loan from the newly established HEFA (Higher Education Funding Agency) committee. This transition from a publicly funded academic institution to one reliant on loans not only endangers the university's ethos but also lays the groundwork for loan-based entities that could evolve into commercial enterprises,” said the student group.

It was further highlighted that despite JNU having a reputation in its research programmes, the number of seats in MPhil and PhD programmes has reduced drastically to 194 seats available in 2017-18, down from over 1,000 the previous year.

Crumbling infrastructure

The students further claimed that due to several infrastructural gaps on the JNU campus, many are facing issues. One of the most alarming concerns among students is a shortage of water supply in hostels.

Apart from this, they added that the university health centre is also functioning with limited supplies.

Moreover, it was added that the spaces for holding seminars and public meetings have been shut down, such as the Student Activity Centre (TEFLAS), affecting democracy on campus.

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