New Delhi, Sept. 24: Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University protesting the lack of enough scholarships for the needy are planning a flash strike tomorrow.
Fifteen students who are already on hunger strike since late Thursday say they will continue the protest till their demands are met.
A day-long dharna has also been lined up at the office of the University Grants Commission, whose chief Sukhdeo Thorat is a JNU alumnus.
Sponsored by the JNU Students’ Union, the protests are aimed at getting the university to increase the number of scholarships, as well as the sum paid to beneficiaries.
Union members on hunger strike include those from the CPM-backed Students’ Federation of India and the CPI(M-L) supported All India Students’ Association. The students have also met Union human resources development minister Arjun Singh to press their demands.
“JNU has 1,600 merit-cum-means scholarships for students from BA, MA and MPhil, but these are hugely inadequate,” said Dhananjay Tripathi, vice-president of the students’ union.
The union wants such scholarships extended to all students from families whose annual income is under Rs 1 lakh. The limit is Rs 75,000 now.
“Clearing the JNU entrance is enough evidence of merit. We will help the administration cross-verify income so that no one cheats the university of funds,” said Tripathi.
The amount under the merit scholarships should be raised from Rs 600 a month to Rs 1,500, students say. “The mess bill alone comes to around Rs 1,000 a month while Rs 500 is needed for photocopies of course material,” said Rajesh Mishra, a union member. The union is also seeking special scholarships for SC/ST students and research scholars.
Since those who fail repeatedly to clear their exams in JNU courses are asked to quit, students argue there is no question of pupils staying on merely to receive scholarships.
Vice-chancellor B.B. Bhattacharya, who promised students he would “look into their demands,” has left for an overseas trip, fuelling allegations of “an unresponsive administration”.