Correspondence (Distance Education) Students’ Rights Rally (Jan 21 @10 am, Delhi University)

Protest Rally (from Arts Faculty to VC Office),

Delhi University 

Jan 21 (Tomorrow, Monday), 10.00 am

We, the students of distance learning mode (Delhi University) have come together and launched a campaign that presses for equality of opportunity and dignity. For a long time we have been treated like an underclass in the very institutions of learning that are run through public money raised by our parents’ contribution to the coffers of the state, that is, through the sweat of their brows. We are the children of factory workers, farm hands, office orderlies, coolies, truck drivers, etc. who labour hard through most of the day and all the year round so that our society may prosper. We, the children of the wretched of the world, constitute the majority of every society in the world and yet we are the ones who are denied basic human comforts and dignity.

As we grew we soon realized that we are ruled by a state which demands every sacrifice from us but does not grant us any of our claims. From the early days of our childhood we have learnt the meaning of and are informed by the simple dignity which comes from a day’s toil and hardship. We have grown up watching children of our age play while we worked in their houses; we watched them pay more money as school fees than our parents make in a year. We went to schools run by the government for our ‘welfare’ but found teachers missing. We realized that life is not fair (to some) but that it shines benevolently upon some. Chubby princes and spoilt sweethearts are nurtured to be leaders of our (society?) and us, while we are conditioned to serve them.

It did not take long for us to realize that the world is not fair, but we did not let hope die, mainly because our parents believed in us. We have and continue to watch them sacrifice every small comfort to send us to school, (though it was not always possible). We have watched their eyes brim with dreams and hopes that one day we too would be able to join the ranks of the ‘born’ leaders. Though it was not always easy, we have kept the hope alive, only to see it shatter on passing out from our schools. There is a cut-off, we realized, meant to keep us from gate crashing into the ranks of those ‘born to lead’ and from spoiling their party. We realized that there is no way we could compete with the ‘bright ones’ who paid a fortune to enter the hallowed campuses of well known private schools of Delhi. Their teachers spoke fluent English, they had the latest e-gadgets to educate them, air-conditioned class rooms (and buses), home tutors and above all full stomachs. We were never meant to win for their parents and the state through its dual education policy had caused them to become ‘destined’ to win even before the race could begin.

Naturally, very few of our friends managed to cross the iron curtain of the cut-off marks—it remains to be seen, how long they would survive. But most of us were left out in the cold, hapless and teary-eyed, our tears draining away our parents’ dreams. It was then that we got to know from our benevolent rulers that there was some hope still. We could still be a part of the distinguished Delhi University through the distance learning program. The syllabus would be the same and teachers from DU would teach us. We cheered up and told ourselves (and our parents) that there is hope indeed—if Ekalavya could do it in Mahabharat, we could do it too. But alas, in hoping against hope, we forgot the eventual fate of Ekalavya, it dawned upon us gradually. We were being given classes once in a week and that too if we were lucky. Our teachers were mostly the ones who had missed the bus, and were teaching us as a compromise. The officials barked orders at us, talked to us as one would talk to somebody who is dimwitted; the security staff scoffed at our presence on campus on Sundays (the only day of the week we are allowed to ‘defile’ these hallowed shrines of learning). We were chased out of the campus as soon as our classes got over. The University did and does everything that it could/can, to convince us that we do not belong here. We were given the message that we were here only at the sufferance and burden of the University, and that we ought to consider ourselves lucky for the crumbs thrown at us in the name of ‘public welfare’. We could only seethe in anger and clench our fists, because we were alone in the crowd, we were just individuals trying to make the best of whatever little we had.

But now this is going to change. With our dreams shattered, dignities lost and our parents disillusioned, we have got little to lose. We have come together to put up a fight and with the intent of winning it at all costs. We, the children of India’s labouring class, the underclass of the University system and the pariahs to the ‘fashionable’ and ‘sensitive’ University community, hereby declare that from now on we are going to do everything within our capacity to shatter your peace of mind, your ‘solemn’ gravity and your vacuous sensitivity. We will not allow you, the ‘born leaders’ and your enlightened mentors to pity us, sympathize with us, or cast your benevolent glance at us. We want none of it, though we stretch out our arms to anybody who is willing to join us as an equal and to make a common cause with us. This is just our first step, a long journey lies ahead of us but we are prepared.



Correspondence Students’ Rights Campaign

Contact: 9312654851

Supported and Organized by

Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)

Academia as a site of class struggle

Raju J Das

The recent student demonstrations in Britain, Quebec (and elsewhere) against neo-liberal education cuts (and fee increase) is an encouraging sign of sentiments of legitimate class anger brewing among students. This prompts one to think critically about academia as such. The academia must be a site of class struggle. And funding cut is only one issue. There are major problems with the academia itself. Students should fight not just for more educational opportunities, for an educational system that is not to be treated as a commodity. They should critically think about the very content of education being given to them by their professors.

One of the problems with the academia – universities, research institutes, etc – is that it is a great ‘leveller’, a ‘bourgeois-democratic terrain’. Take any topic, say, child labour. Lots of professors talk about the social-cultural identity of children (e.g. what does it mean to be a younger person, and all that). If you, as a Marxist, question them saying, what about how capitalism creates conditions for child labour to exist, these academics would say ‘yes, that is one approach, and ours is another’. Take the environment. Nature/environment gets transformed into ideas about nature/environment. So, anything and everything goes.

Marxism, as Terry Eagleton correctly remarks in Why Marx was right is ‘the most theoretically rich, politically uncompromising critique of … (the capitalist) system’. Marxism, however, gets constructed as one among several approaches. Irrespective of the intellectual merit of an approach, all approaches are considered valid within academic, on an apriori basis. Often, approaches which have little to do with Marxism at all are constructed as Marxism with a pre-fix (as in ‘post-Marxism’): those who do this practice double standards. They want to enjoy some prestige associated with Marxism’s rigour while denying the validity of every major principle of Marxism’s theory and politics. The history of the academic world, of production of social knowledge, appears to be a history of running away from the class question and its politics which define Marxism.

The effect is this: Marxism is forced to live in peaceful coexistence with other ideas. Here is the problem though: Marxism cannot naturally live that mode of life. No peaceful existence is possible (just as socialism in one country co-existing with capitalism in other countries is such a stupid idea in theory and practice).

There are only two types of approaches in the world, as Lenin says in What is to be done: socialist/Marxist and capitalist. Because Marxism lays bare the exploitative, destructive and oppressive character of capitalism which is the most dominant feature of our life, which is the most important cause of major world problems, therefore Marxism must be the dominant approach in society. To think otherwise is to fool ourselves.

It is not the friendly battle of ideas – Marxism vs the rest – that leads to this sort of peaceful coexistence. It is partly the structure of the academia which allows this to happen. And it is a structure whose main function is to reproduce capitalism and blunt class struggle.

Within this structure, then the agency of non-Marxists to weed out Marxists in various ways works. Within this structure, what works is the agency of bourgeois professors – which is what nearly all the professors are, although sometimes they give themselves a ‘critical’ name – in imposing nonsense and semi-ignorance, packaged as knowledge, on ‘helpless’ students (who constitute a ‘captive market’). This includes making students or encouraging them to do intellectually non-stimulating and politically infertile research, by making them read nearly-rubbish things in the class room, by holding out the threat of a low grade if students write radical stuff about society, and so on. Many students, thankfully not all, are complicit in this sort of game being played.

Within this structure – the supposedly democratic terrain – some ‘Marxists’ also get seduced and turn to non-Marxism (in the name of theoretical innovations to be peddled in the knowledge-market) or do not critically object to the non-Marxist nonsense on the pretext of collegiality, etc. This collegiality is in a way a reflection of crass class-collaborationism on an ideological plane: to the extent that non-Marxists represent the interests and ideas of the bourgeoisie and to the extent that Marxists represent the interests of the working class, poor peasants and all those still engaged in communal modes of life, collegiality is equal to collaborationism which is given a sweet-sounding name.

It is said that professors’ research should inform their teaching. But what kind of research do professors indeed do? To the extent that professors’ research is driven by a critical agenda – and note that being critical is as mandatory as younger students taking a writing course – their critique is a critique of those aspects which can be changed a bit: talking about things which cannot be changed are off their radar and therefore of their students. Professors ‘find fault’ with society (more accurately, they find fault with superficial aspects of society which can be modified a bit through the drama of so-called human agency as expressed in the form of NGOs, governmental action or union bureaucracy). But they get very edgy if someone points fingers at them. Much of their research agenda is primarily driven by whether their research will, for example, obtain a grant in the grant market, whether from business or from a bureaucratic state, which often sets its own agenda for giving money, and whether their research conforms to the agenda (‘strategic research plan’) of their institutions. Much of the research – funded or not – celebrates economic individualism or cultural individualism (the identity stuff, abstracted from the sheer material conditions). Poverty is replaced by ideas about poverty. The child is replaced by ideas about the child. And so on. Research has attained magical powers. If some workers think that they are not workers, the professor declares that the working class as a reality does not exist, and therefore class is as defunct as Stalinist USSR. By touching the keyboard on their laptops, professors can make an entire reality disappear at an instant.

Much of the research even by so-called critical scholars is about everything else other than capitalism’s class and systemic character. Research is about how to make the existing society look a little progressive on the basis of a little gender parity here, racial or regional equality there, and so on. Much research is purely descriptive: attempt to find causes of things is not a worthwhile project any more. No need to penetrate the structure of the world. Penetrate the minds of people around you. The entire reality is there. What and how people think about things is the main thing. ‘Ies’ (geographies, sociologies), ‘ality’ (governmentality), and a plethora of similar words decorate the academia, which signify multiple realities and social (=mental/emotional, etc.) construction of realities.

If a student garnering some courage tries to talk about class, or the state, the immediate response of the professors is: that’s old stuff or that is too orthodox or that has been done. ‘Do new things, man!’ is what a student is told. What to research is not to be determined by the lives and struggles of ordinary people, by people in their flesh and bones, as they produce and reproduce their lives. What to research is to be determined by ‘silences’, by what has not been researched (I will not be surprised to see a research project that will study the physical and socially constructed average distances among people defecating at dusk on the outskirts of a village in India).

The ‘democratic’ character of the academia will be put to test if lots of professors honestly follow the Marxist approach in a university. One or two Marxists can be allowed in a University as a token existence of radical dissent. The ‘law of dialectics’ will work if the number becomes large, too large. The quantity will change into a quality. The democratic character of the academia will also be tested if students start challenging their bourgeois professors, including in terms of what they make the students read and what is the content of what professors say in the class-room (which is supposedly based on their research). It is not too difficult to see students at the forefront of a renewed class struggle.

Raju J Das teaches at York University, Toronto.

Protest against a Cut-off System in +2 admissions

Government School Students Protest Against the Recent Government Circular Introducing a Cut-Off System in Class XIth Admission
KYS Spearheads Protests in Three Different Zones Against the Circular
Future of Thousands of Poor Students in the Doldrums

Today on the morning of July 11, hundreds of agitated government school students, their parents, as well as activists from Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), protested against the recent circular released by the Delhi Government’s Directorate of Education. Three different protests were held outside three separate government schools, i.e. outside Government Senior sec. School (Sangam Park), Government Sarvodaya Bal Vidyala (Nangloi), and Government Senior Secondary School No. 1 (Patel Nagar).

The contested Circular is extremely problematic because it has for the first time introduced a very high cut off for government school students who are entering class XIth (eleventh) in the Commerce and Science streams. This cut off is being implemented across the various government schools with immediate effect, and has created havoc with the young students’ lives. The immediate effect of this Circular has been that a large section of youth who are from working class families and are dependent on government school education, are being denied admission to these streams in government schools where they have been studying for years. More importantly, because a large number of these students cannot make it to the high cut offs, there is tremendous rush for admission in government schools offering Humanities/Arts stream.

Running pillar to post, the despairing students and their parents have decided to fight back and compel the Delhi Government to withdraw the Circular. Shri Sujit Kumar, KYS State Executive Committee Member, visited to all three protest venues and addressed the students. In his address he highlighted how the recent Circular was nothing but an attempt to further privatize school education. “When working class youth are ousted from government schools and denied their constitutional right to education, then where will they go—either they will be forced to drop out or to enrol in private schools where they will struggle daily to pay the high fees,” explained Sujit Kumar.

Indeed, the circular is a black spot and mockery of the recently implemented Right to Education (RTE), for it is assisting in keeping a large section of needy youth their right to education. Instead of increasing the number of its secondary and senior secondary schools, it is shocking that the Delhi Government is spearheading an unhealthy process like introduction of cut offs for admission to Class XIth. All this is clearly a big boost to the already on-going process of privatization of education.

Meeting with the authorities of the three concerned government schools, the delegation of students and KYS activists appealed to the respective Principals to write to the Directorate of Education, requesting for the recall of the circular. Realizing that the matter would need to be raised at the higher administrative level, the protesters decided to carry out a campaign and reach out to other affected government school students. If the aforementioned Circular is not withdrawn then a large demonstration will be organized against the Delhi Government to protest against its anti-poor students’ policies.

Open Letter to HRD Minister on the problems of working class youth and students

Shri Kapil Sibal
The Hon’ble Minister
Human Resource and Development Ministry
Government of India.

Respected Sir,

We write to you as part of our initiative to apprise the general public of this country of the multifarious and crippling problems faced by working class youth who wish to pursue higher education. We realize that your own privileged social background, as well as your current political association, will, in all probability, prevent you from pursuing a sympathetic assessment of our concerns. However, we still appeal to your authority and sense of humanity, and ask your office to consider the following facts and concerns highlighted by us.

Sir, it is a well-known fact that the majority of working class youth of this country end up studying in government schools, and despite our best efforts, we still lag behind students who are able to pursue their education from expensive and reputed private schools. It is not that we do not labour and study diligently. In fact, because we belong to working class families, we are well aware of the value of labour. Working hard to survive is strategy taught to us from birth, and it is the principle we follow even when it comes to studies. However, it is clear to us that despite the valuable contribution made to the economy by the working masses, their children’s educational rights are assigned little value. Majority of the government schools we study in are divested of proper resources like adequate teachers, supply of teaching aids, good infrastructure, etc. This dismal condition at the school level is aggravated by the extremely precarious conditions in which we live.

The large majority of our families live in one room apartments because of the meagre wages earned by us and our parents. And needless, to say most of this housing is situated in the city’s slums and JJ colonies—many of which face the threat of demolition. In fact, many of us who are writing this letter have watched our homes being destroyed by bulldozers during our twelfth class examinations this year. Even if we want to rise above all these obstacles and problems such as the temporariness of our homes, we find ourselves severely handicapped by the simple fact that our families cannot afford tuitions. Forced to pay high rents and to meet rising prices of essential commodities, our parents are unable to put aside money for tuitions, or to purchase much-needed study material. Sadly, despite their desire to see us perform well, our parents are sometimes compelled to ask us to work as well, in order to contribute to the family income.

This brings us to the question of how successive governments have failed to address these disadvantages faced by working class youth, and have consciously denied us adequate opportunities at the level of higher education. Sir, we strongly believe that your government’s support for the dual education system, and thereby, its promotion of privatization of education, is a major source of our ruination. By encouraging the private schools on the one hand, and, on other hand, not investing sufficiently in government schools, the government is consciously creating a condition in which affluent students of private schools (who have had access to the best facilities, teachers, as well as tuition) get the lion share of seats made available at the level of higher education. Hence, the current government education policy is such that higher education has become out of reach for majority of this country’s youth, i.e. youth belonging to the working masses. It is extremely disturbing that the government provides subsidized education only till the school level. Beyond school education, the government adamantly refuses to utilize public money in a manner which makes subsidized higher education available to working class youth. Instead, the doors to higher education are opened only to the select few who have proved to be “meritorious”, i.e. those who have undergone private schooling, and hence, have the marks.

Clearly, this skewed education policy which has existed for years, has ensured that only 5 to 7 per cent of youth make it to the level of higher education (see National Sample Survey). In actuality, a large share of this 5 to 7 per cent comprises of middle and upper-middle class youth. The working class do not get a seat in the regular colleges and are forced to pursue higher education from correspondence and non-collegiate higher education boards. Needless to say, correspondence courses, etc. represent the poorly invested sector within the higher education field—a fact well highlighted in the kind of teaching provided, the lack of classroom infrastructure and the poor performance of correspondence students. The above-mentioned figure of 5 to 7 per cent also reflects the simple fact that governments like yours, perceive higher education as an opportunity which should be provided to the minority and not to the masses. After all, an inclusive, mass higher education program would not allow the system to reproduce workers from amongst the society’s youth, because if every youth was to pursue a BA or B.Sc. course, who would line up outside the city’s factories for a job.

Having said this, we would like to reiterate how misplaced your concern for last year’s and this year’s cut-offs has been. In 2011, when some prestigious Delhi University (DU) colleges declared cut-offs that touched 100 per cent, you expressed grave concern and assured the public that such cut-offs would not be repeated. Back then, and even today, the impact of such cut-offs on working class youth, is something you failed to consider. While your government is satisfied with the fact that the same cut-offs have not been repeated this year, can you claim that under this year’s cut-offs, working class youth will also make it to the Delhi University? And does your decision to allow the entry of foreign, private universities provide a solution to the concerns raised by working class youth? The answer to both questions is a definite no.

Firstly, despite cut-offs that are below the magic 100 per cent figure, the majority of youth who are coming from government schools, will still not get admission in universities like DU. Why would we, when the quality of education provided to us in government schools allows us to barely pass the Board examinations. It is here that we would like to highlight the bitter irony of the higher education system—public money is being used not for the betterment of those who most need it, but for those who are from the affluent sections of society, have got the best, and have, hence, scored the most. At this point, you may like to argue that some government school students do make it to higher educational institutions. However, we would like to highlight how this is a misconception yet again. The tremendously small segment of working class youth who make it to the level of higher education, often fail to perform (complete their course, to score well, etc.) because of the lack of essential, complementary facilities like remedial coaching and scholarships. There are, in fact, numerous instances of working class youth being unable to pay their tuition fees.

Secondly, further privatization of higher education via entry of foreign universities, etc. is far from a solution to the on-going problem. It will only result in more private players entering the field of education in the bid to misuse a social need for private, business greed. Education will all the more become an opportunity to be provided to those who can buy it. And lastly, it is only with greater investment in education by the government that the current situation can be improved. The building of more government subsidized schools and colleges, rather than paving the way for expensive foreign universities, is the permanent solution.

High cut-offs and less number of seats are problematic in many ways. For example if there are less number of seats overall, the reserve seats will be lower. Thus reservation which was a constructive policy to bring out Dalits from the villages and traditional occupations would remain an empty box as a large number of students will not get a seat. For example in Delhi University there are 12000 odd seats reserved for SC/ST candidates whereas the number of applicants are around 24000 i.e. double the number of seats. Thus a large number of students from the reserve category are forced to go back to their villages and continue with traditional occupations. This would deny not only upward mobility but also makes Dalit students prone to caste oppression and atrocities in the villages.

Of course, such long term solution need to be supported by immediate relief measures that cater to the concerns and needs of the majority of this country’s youth. One such immediate solution which we put forward and for which we seek government intervention, is the provision of 80 per cent reservation for government school students in every category, i.e. in the general category, SC-ST category, PH and OBC category. We appeal to you and to the society at large to understand and engage with the voice of the majority. Let us not reduce education to the question of who can afford it, and let us not reduce the novel concept of subsidized education to a mockery whereby it is used to provide educational advantages to those who are already way ahead in the race. We appeal to your conscience, and ask you to transform education structure into a truly mass phenomenon in which those who are most disadvantaged, are given an equal opportunity to transform their lives via education.

KRANTIKARI YUVA SANGATHAN (KYS), DELHI UNIT OF ALL INDIA REVOLUTIONARY YOUTH ORGANISATION, T-44, Near Gopal Dairy, Baljeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008. Ph. : 9312654851 , 9313343753

High Cut-Offs Burnt by Government School Students

Sujit Kumar & Dinesh Kumar, KRANTIKARI YUVA SANGATHAN (KYS), DELHI UNIT OF ALL INDIA REVOLUTIONARY YOUTH ORGANISATION, T-44, Near Gopal Dairy, Baljeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008. Ph. : 9312654851, 9313343753

High Cut-Offs Burnt by Government School Students!
Government School Students Demand 80% Reservation in Government-Funded Institutes and Universities!
Government School Students and their Parents Agitated over the Fact that Cheap Public Funded Education is Beyond Their Reach!
An Open-Letter is also sent to HRD Ministry for Immediate Intervention!

Today (June 26) a large number of government school students, their parents and progressive individuals protested against the high cut-off for admission in Delhi University. The colleges of DU declared their first cut-off for admission to various courses on Tuesday. With this the wait is formally over as far as the procedure to get oneself admitted in a college was concerned. However getting a seat secured in a college/course still remained a distant dream for many as the cut-offs have sky-rocketed beyond the expectations. However this is not something which is unique to this years’ cut-off. Every year cut-offs are so high that government school students are not able to get a seat in the institutes of higher learning. Our organization firmly believes that the cut-offis nothing but a calculated policy to keep the higher education beyond the reach of students from government schools, an overwhelming majority of whom come from socio-economically deprived backgrounds. These students have also sent an open-letter to HRD Ministry for immediate intervention.

It is important to note that the higher cut-offs eliminates the chances of government school students in the institutes of higher learning and the only recourse left to them is to do some technical certificate and diploma courses and become a source of cheap labour in the market. Also interesting is the fact that the government has not only continued with the dual education system but has kept the same cut-off for government and private schools.It is an undeniable fact that students from private schools with better teaching and coaching facilities get higher marks and the domain of government funded higher education becomes virtually theirs as there are a very limited number of seats. Whereas the students from government schools always have to kill their ‘ambition’ without anyone noticing the fact that the race was unequal from the start. The bad result of these government school students is a result of the larger policy issue. Most of the government schools students lack basic facilities and have insufficient number of teachers (mostly in science and commerce courses) which is magnified by their home environment as most of these students are first generation learners and mostly live in a single rented room with the entire family. The unavailability of sufficient teachers forces the students to go for unregulated tuitions which not only creates havoc of their career but promotes the privatization of education. It is high time that government should undertake its responsibility of ensuring that a large section of students is not denied higher education due to loopholes in the policy. We demand an immediate enactment of a policy that provides marks relaxation/reservation to students of the government schools in the publically funded institutes of higher learning. We do understand that the reservation cannot be a permanent solution. Therefore the government must abolish the dual system of education with private schools students with all sorts of facilities getting the fruits of cheap higher education on the one hand and on the other the government school students from socio-economically deprived background and lack of good learning facilities remaining outside the domain of higher learning. We also demand that the government should increase the amount of budget spent on higher education for the children of working masses.

It is to be noted that in India the number of students who go for higher education are abysmally low. Only 7 percent of the students who pass 12th standard go for higher education. Even these seven percent students do not get to study the courses and colleges of their choice, and only a very small number of students from them get seats in regular colleges. Most of the students end up doing their study through correspondence or distance learning. In Delhi University there are only 54000 seats whereas 146000 have applied for admission. Thus around a lakh students will be denied admissions. It is important to note that these students are aspirants yet they will not be given admission due to less number of seats. Isn’t it ironic that even from a small number aspirants a large number is denied admission. Most of students who are denied admission are from government schools and are first generation learners. Thus denying them admission eliminates their scope for upward mobility.

High cut-offs and less number of seats are problematic in many ways. For example if there are less number of seats overall, the reserve seats will be lower. Thus reservation which was a constructive policy to bring out Dalits from the villages and traditional occupations would remain an empty box as a large number of students will not get a seat. For example in Delhi University there are 12000 odd seats reserved for SC/ST candidates whereas the number of applicants are around 24000 i.e. double the number of seats. Thus a large number of students from the reserve category are forced to go back to their villages and continue with traditional occupations. This would deny not only upward mobility but also makes Dalit students prone to caste oppression and atrocities in the villages.

We demand:

1. 80% reservation for government school students in public funded institutes and universities.
2. Immediate increase in number of seats in institutes of higher learning.
3. Increase in the amount of budget spent on education.
4. Abolition of the dual education system.
5. Hostel facilities for all the students from socio-economically deprived background.

Delhi University Women Students’ Struggle: An Appeal


Since January of 2012, residents of Delhi University’s largest postgraduate women’s hostel, University Hostel for Women (UHW) have been waging a battle against outright suppression of their democratic rights by, both, their hostel authorities and the University’s Proctorial Committee. Since the hostel’s Chairperson is also the Proctor of the University, the Proctorial Committee has been intervening in the matter, not as a neutral party, but in complete connivance with the hostel authorities. There are two issues which are central to the ongoing struggle of the women students, namely, the imposition of a union constitution by the authorities, and the existence of archaic and conservative rules in the hostel. In the process of their struggle, the women hostellers have been individually victimized to a ridiculous extent by the hostel Provost, Professor Ashum Gupta and the Warden, Dr. Tanuja Agarwala. The Warden and Provost have been sending letters to departments, making misleading phone calls to parents, denying extension of stay to M.Phil researchers in the hostel, verbally threatening their MA students that they will be given less marks for projects and assignments if they continue to support the struggle, etc. As a result, the campaign of the women hostellers has also been geared towards fighting rampant victimization.

Our struggle began when on 22 January, 2012 a six page document was pasted on various notice boards inside the hostel. The document was a copy of the Hostel Union Constitution drafted by the authorities in consultation with the hostel’s Managing Committee. While such a crucial piece of document can only be put into force after being passed by a two third majority of the hostel residents, who are the actual constituents of the union, no such procedure was followed in our hostel. To make matters worse, the hostel authorities tried to hold this year’s hostel union election on the basis of this imposed Constitution. While the authorities claim that they are implementing procedures followed during other student elections of Delhi University (such as DUSU, etc.), the structure of the Hostel Union Constitution reveals something very different. For example, the Constitution drafted by the authorities allows for the outgoing union president to continue on the new hostel union as an ex-officio member! Similarly, before the residents began challenging the authorities, the newly announced election criteria consisted of stipulations which seriously prevented the formation of a strong, independent students’ union. The new election criteria were an unhealthy combination of the stringent Lyngdoh committee stipulations, as well as certain disqualification criteria formulated by the authorities themselves.

A “valid” candidature was, hence, ascertained according to the Lyngdoh recommendations on age and attendance to a course, as well as the system of memos (i.e. the issuing of warning letters for the smallest breach of hostel rules—most of these rules being highly unpopular and contested). The receipt of 5 such memos was arbitrarily made a criterion for disqualification. It is only because the women students united to fight this imposition of a hostel union constitution that certain non-Lyngdoh election stipulations (like disqualification on the basis of memos issued and number of years of residence in the hostel, etc.) were taken back by the authorities. Unsatisfied with this partial victory, the women students have pursued their struggle because apart from the arbitrary introduction of Lyngdoh recommendations, the Constitution imposed by the authorities allows for extensive control of the hostel authorities on the union. Since the attempts of the authorities has been to minimize the autonomy and strength of the students’ union, the hostel residents collectively decided to submit a signature petition to the hostel Warden and Chairperson.

The second issue on which UHW residents have been campaigning is existing hostel rules. Most of the rules in force are those formulated way back when the hostel was started in 1970. The current residents in the hostel are challenging rules such as ‘no exit after 8:00pm’, submission of leave applications approved by Head of Departments for more than one week’s absence from the hostel, the tedious procedure of gate pass and double-locking of rooms which does not exist in the men’s hostels, the limited number of late nights and nights out, closing off the canteen to visitors, etc. Many of these rules such as not being able to exit after 8pm are illogical, especially when we consider how the same authorities allow the residents entry up till 11:00pm under the late night provision. An archaic rule such as ‘no exit after 8pm’ prevents women students from stepping out for urgent work, or even something as simple as getting photocopies from the nearby market, Patel Chest.

However, apart from this, certain the rules (such as closing off the canteen to Miranda House and other college students and staff) have also worked towards making Chhatra Marg (where the hostel is situated) a more isolated place, and hence, unsafe. Certain other rules which are implemented solely in the women’s hostels, like the submission of leave applications approved by Head of Departments for more than one week’s absence from the hostel, are being misused to such an extent that the women hostellers and department heads are unnecessarily burdened with additional paperwork. It is, in fact, shameful that adult women are being made to seek approval from their departments even for personal matters such their travel/vacation plans.

Of course, under the pressure of the ongoing struggle, the University has decided to implement, from the new academic session, certain changes in the rules prevalent in women’s hostels. However, since these adjustments were discussed and formalized without any consultation with women students, they continue to create hassles for the women hostellers. Indeed, apart from a few proposed changes, most of the rules stand the same. In fact, not only will tedious procedures like gate-pass, double locking of rooms and issuing of memos for the smallest breach of hostel rules persist, the University’s new administrative order also proposes a hostel fee hike. Understandably, the women hostellers continue to agitate and raise their democratic concerns.

Typically, the collective struggle of the students has been trivialized and demeaned in several ways. Students’ democratic methods like calling meetings, circulating signature petitions, etc. are constantly projected by the authorities as “illegal” activities that spread “disturbance” and “disharmony”. Basically, when we take the initiative to raise our opinions and discontent, our authorities only see “untoward” activity…OUR VOICE IS NOISE FOR THEM!

Furthermore, ever since the women hostellers have been voicing their democratic aspirations, the authorities have viciously gone after individual students in the bid to transform UHW residents into a captive mass which has no democratic voice. The logic behind the multiple techniques of victimization is the need for the hostel authorities to break the collective will of the students and to project their collective struggle as that of a few individuals. In order to break the collective will and efforts of the residents, the authorities have been threatening individual students to withdraw from the struggle, and have tried to project the students’ legitimate struggle as a smear campaign pursued by one or two students who have some mysterious “agenda”. The techniques of victimization used unhesitatingly so far, include: (i) vicious character assassination, (ii) phone calls to parents and departments, (iii) accosting individuals on the stand they have taken and refusing to cooperate with them regarding the smallest of procedural work within the hostel, (iv) denying extension of stay to M.Phil researchers, (v) bombarding the more active students with show cause notices on every alternate day, etc.

For many of us these victimization techniques are equivalent to the techniques embraced by the management of private companies seeking to break the collective voice of their employees. Considering our hostel Warden is a faculty member of the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), it comes as no surprise to us that typical labour management formulas are being applied on us students. Haranguing individuals, involving the families of the protesters, threatening individuals with a series of show cause notices, applying multiple pressure on individuals by involving a not-so-neutral third party (in our case, the Proctor’s office, and in the case of workers, the Labour Office), etc. are very similar to the methods used by factory managers who seek to crush the collective voice of their employees. Using such labour management methods, the hostel authorities went out of their way to expose their unethical and undemocratic nature on two particular occasions. One such occasion was on 14th February when a large number of women hostellers boycotted dinner in protest. Rather than being concerned about the condition of the residents boycotting dinner, the hostel authorities ‘rewarded’ those who refused to support the campaign with an extra lavish dinner, and spent the entire day calling individual students to the office in order to force them to withdraw their support for the boycott.

The second occasion on which typical labour management techniques were unleashed on the hostel residents was on the 13th of March. On this day, members of the hostel’s Managing Committee, two Deputy Proctors, the Warden, Provost and Resident Tutor huddled into office to hold a Managing Committee meeting, as promised in writing. Ironically, rather than allowing the students to select and send their representatives to the meeting, the hostel Warden handpicked two students to represent the students’ point of view in the meeting called to ‘resolve’ the issues raised by the residents. As expected these students’ ‘representatives’ were not the more vocal of students, and were forced to compromise as they were outnumbered in the Managing Committee meeting, and were, in fact, locked into the office area during the course of the meeting. Disrespect for amicable dialogue and the strong desire to create a docile mass of women students are clearly reflected in such cases.

As the situation stands, individual victimization continues on a daily basis. For example, despite verbal assurances given by the Dean of Colleges, Prof. Pachauri, on the 16th of March, the hostel Provost has continued to contact supervisors and Head of Departments. The hostel authorities also released a list on the 19th of March of M.Phil researchers who will not be provided an extension of stay, despite the precedent being that the hostel provides such extension in strongly recommended cases. The hostel authorities continue to run UHW as if it were their personal fiefdom. There really seems to be no way to check their authoritarian, undemocratic and unethical practices, unless the larger Delhi University community extends support to the women students.

WE, HENCE, APPEAL TO ALL CONCERNED UNIVERSITY MEMBERS AND ALUMNI OF UNIVERSITY HOSTEL FOR WOMEN (UHW) TO STAND WITH THE DEMOCRATIC ASPIRATIONS OF THE WOMEN STUDENTS, AND TO HELP PREVENT DELHI UNIVERSITY’S AUTHORITIES FROM REDUCING STUDENTS TO A VOICELESS, DOCILE MASS. In the larger context of the backlash against all democratic voices in this University, the ongoing struggle of women’s students emerges as a litmus test for democracy— do we as a University community want to create docile University youth, or right-bearing, politically conscious University youth?

Your contribution to this democratic struggle could consist of the following:
(i) Writing letters to the University’s Vice Chancellor that press for the prevention of individual victimization in its myriad forms, and for an amicable resolution to the issues raised by the students;
(ii) Writing letters to the University’s Vice Chancellor and Dean of Colleges that press for the removal of the hostel Provost and Warden since the two continue to derail a healthy dialogue process by victimizing individual students;
(iii) Writing letters to the media which highlight the sheer lack of tolerance for the democratic issues raised by the women students like the right to draft, amend and ratify their union constitution;
(iv) Discussion with colleagues and other faculty members so as to create a public opinion against how women’s hostels are being run according to the diktats of an authoritarian and conservative set of DU faculty members;
(v) Build students’ resistance against de-unionization and conservative rules, as in UHW, in other DU hostels as well.

Issued by Residents of University Hostel for Women (UHW)
Contact: 9350272637, 9818900179

Delhi University Women Students’ Struggle: Open letter in response to the show-cause notice issued by hostel authorities

The Warden
University Hostel for Women (UHW)
University of Delhi

Dear Dr. Tanuja Agarwala,

I am in receipt of a number of letters in which I have been asked to explain/clarify my “conduct” over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, none of these letters issued by you reflect a willingness to understand the issues raised by the hostel residents, and to see them as a democratic expression of the residents’ collective will. Your last letter (dated 12.03.2012) has asked me to clarify why action should not be taken against me, based on the alleged complaint that a few students were “misled” and misinformed into signing the Memorandum calling for a boycott of dinner on 14.02.2012. Your letter categorically refuses to consider the 14th February Memorandum as an expression of the students’ collective will. The very evidence of this fact is that I have been identified as a “culprit” who needs to explain her position, lest action will be taken. I do not wish to be identified as a “hero” of the hostel campaign or a person who can be identified as the “potential victim”. It is high time the authorities of the hostel restrain themselves in identifying individual “culprits” and in scuttling the collective democratic voice of the residents.

The entire campaign and the number of memorandums submitted to the authorities are a collective endeavour where no individual can be identified as the person behind the campaign. Of course, in all campaigns and movements there are some people who take the initiative, and are assertive in expressing the collective will of the others concerned. However, such persons cannot be identified as “instigators” because they are merely expressing in a consistent manner what majority of the people think is right.

Of course, there is always a general possibility that in campaigns/movements there are some individuals who are inconsistent in their position on the issues raised, and therefore, change their position during the course of time. This may explain why some individual residents retracted from their position on the boycott of dinner. However, a change in the position such individuals hold does not mean their earlier position was wrong, or that they were misled into the earlier position they took.

Having said this, in the case of our hostel there is a specific possibility that the authorities resorted to individual intimidation to get some residents to change their position on issues raised. We have indeed come across versions of this intimidation wherein individual residents were called to the hostel office and categorically threatened to withdraw from the campaign otherwise they would not be given extension, their parents would be contacted, their departments intimated, etc. In fact, few parents were called and asked to restrain their daughters. Such draconian, coercive and high-handed practices of the authorities have led to widespread fear amongst a section of the students. It is under such conditions of fear and actual acts of victimization that individual residents were asked to give in writing that they consent to withdraw from the campaign. What else can explain the simple fact that few individual residents began to retract from the boycott call after a lengthy visit to the hostel office? It is another thing that despite all the efforts of the authorities, we are still confident of the support of the majority of students, and therefore, will continue to assert the democratic rights of the residents.

To your allegation that some residents were misinformed into signing the concerned Memorandum, I and several other residents who have studied your letter, have only one thing to say, which is that we find such views unacceptable. This is because residents of this hostel are educated adults who never go around signing documents and memorandums in a fit of absent-mindedness. The Memorandum explaining why a dinner boycott was being called, was properly attached to the signature petition. There were regular announcements made inside the hostel mess, as well as individual dissemination of the boycott’s details during breakfast on the 14th of February. Subsequently, postering on the boycott was also carried out in the hostel on the 14th, which shows that rather than being misinformed and misled into boycotting dinner, individual residents were coerced by you to give up their decision to boycott dinner.

Most importantly, it is wrong to claim that because some students changed their opinion due to victimization or due to certain personal calculations, I and other students are causing “disturbance” in the hostel, and should hence, be punished. It should be recalled that on the 20th of February when the authorities and a section of the students exchanged undertakings in writing, there was a tacit acceptance of the fact that there were two parties of opinion on the issues at stake. It goes against the notion of jurisprudence where a party in conflict of opinion bestows upon itself the power to punish the other party for raising their opinion. Such an approach is neither impartial nor democratic.

It is high time the authorities concede the point that genuine issues are at stake and that there is a collective of women residents who are raising these issues. Elections at the earliest, adoption of the Constitution submitted on 03.02.2012, and the change in hostel rules (such as no exit after 8pm, gate-pass system, issuing of memos, mess rebate, etc.) must be addressed, and should not be trivialized any further. We will not let the hostel authorities victimize individuals or sideline the issues raised by the residents. The authorities have already broken their promise of not indulging in such victimization, as well as their assurance of calling a Managing Committee meeting where a proper discussion can happen with the residents.

Of course, if the authorities still feel certain residents have been misinformed into taking a stand in support of the hostel campaign, then they should ascertain this by holding a secret ballot referendum on the issues raised by the campaign. Perhaps, this is the only way in which UHW residents can prove to all that they are indeed thinking individuals.

Lastly, I am directed by concerned residents to inform you that if any action is taken against me, your office must be prepared to see the struggle continue as well as escalate. This is because when the collective spirit and democratic aspirations have embodied themselves in all the residents, the physical removal of one person makes little difference to the struggle. The authorities should, hence, be under no illusion that by subduing one individual the quest of the residents on their democratic demands will terminate. At the most, it is only for some time that your office will be able to scuttle the democratic voice of the students. Your actions against individuals will always remain a moral defeat in permanence. Hope a better sense prevails.

Yours truly,

Maya John

Delhi University’s women students struggle for the democratisation of campus and self-determination

Concerned Residents of University Hostel of Women (UHW)

Since January of this year, students of Delhi University’s (DU) largest postgraduate women’s hostel, University Hostel of Women (UHW) have been involved in a militant struggle involving several fundamental democratic demands. One of their particular demands carries larger significance on the issue of democracy in the university campuses. This demand pertains to the right of the students to decide the contours of their student union constitution. As constituents of the union, the students have been contesting the fact that their hostel authorities have imposed a union constitution which the students’ have not ratified themselves. They have contested the union constitution on the grounds that it allows the authorities’ extensive control on the students’ union, thereby overriding the chances of a strong and independent students’ union coming into power.

In the process they have also questioned the enforcement of Lyngdoh recommendations in the hostel. After scrutinizing the Lyngdoh recommendations as well as Supreme Court judgments on the implementation of these recommendations, the students believe that they amount to a breach of the fundamental right to form an association [Article 19(1) a and c, Constitution of India]. According to the Constitution of India [Part III], the state can only infringe upon fundamental rights in certain exceptional and concrete conditions, none of which exist in the context of the hostel. Following from the specifications mentioned in the Constitution of India, the students have reached the conclusion that Supreme Court judgments are being unnecessarily taken out of context so as to curb democratic aspirations, independence of student unions as well as the power of resistance.

Apart from the issue of the union constitution, the women students have also been raising the demand to change age-old, conservative rules of the hostel. Currently, the residents cannot step out of the hostel after 8pm. Ironically, such a rule is enforced to ensure the safety of the women students. However, the same authorities persistently fail to curb the filthy and offensive rally taken out by men hostellers on the day of Holi. Under the University’s Ordinance XV-D, such an act by the men hostellers outside the women’s hostel amounts to sexual harassment.

As of now the students have been told that new rules are being brought into force across women’s hostels. However, in the high powered committee constituted by DU to formalize such common rules, no women students were called for discussion. One can only expect that in such an exclusive meeting, the DU authorities have come up with a series of rules which are not pro-students.

Lastly, in the bid to stem the tide of rampant victimization by the authorities, the women students have escalated their struggle, and taken their struggle outside the walls of their hostel. They have been protesting against the unwillingness of the authorities to see the campaign as a collective struggle, and, to subsequently, pick out individuals whom they can victimize. On the 16th of March, they also protested outside the Vice Chancellor’s office. Now they are in the process of involving and uniting students of other women’s hostels of DU.


14th Jan: First Notification of the Hostel Union elections for 2011-12.

20th Jan: Clarification Notification put up by authorities specifying that residents with 5 memos or more cannot stand for elections.

20th Jan: First Meeting of residents on the issue of the election criteria specified by the authorities. Decision taken by residents to draft a memorandum & collect signatures in support of reverting back to the election criteria that prevailed earlier in UHW.

22nd Jan: Second Meeting of residents. Drafted memorandum is discussed, and additional points added in response to the Constitution put up by the authorities on 22nd Jan. Residents express concern on how: (i) this hostel union constitution was amended by the authorities without gathering the consent of the residents through a GBM; and (ii) that a change in the election criteria was arbitrarily introduced without ratifying it first in a GBM which had a proper quorum, i.e. a sizeable number of hostel residents present and voting.

23rd Jan: A delegation of 5 residents submits the memorandum to the hostel authorities. The memorandum carried 193 signatures of hostel residents. Authorities decide to go ahead with the election on a provisional basis, and give verbal assurance that the residents’ objections will be forwarded to DU’s legal advisor.

25th Jan: Third Meeting of students to discuss next course of action as well as other pressing concerns as strict implementation of hostel rules. More than half the residents attend the meeting and resolve to put up posters on Republic Day expressing their dissent, as well as sit on protest on 27th January, 2012. An organizing committee is constituted to manage the preparations for Saraswati Puja as the residents resolve not to involve the outgoing union members whose tenures have lapsed and who no longer reside in the hostel.

26th Jan: In response to the posters some of the hostel authorities make aggressive speeches after the flag hoisting. Angered residents assemble in the badminton court in large numbers, and decide to again approach the hostel authorities on the issue of hostel elections, the union constitution imposed by them, and the need for the authorities to attend a meeting addressing concerns of the residents with respect to hostel rules, etc. The authorities agree to: (i) postpone elections till the issue of the election criteria is resolved; (ii) forward the residents’ written objections as well as the constitution drafted by residents, to the Legal Advisor; and (iii) meet ALL the residents together via a meeting within a week.

27th Jan: Drafting Committee chosen by the residents starts drafting the hostel union constitution keeping the democratic interests of the residents in mind. The committee also drafts the constitution in a manner which allows for a strong and independent union to be elected into office.

31st Jan: The authorities put up a notice withdrawing certain elections criteria previously announced, but continue to uphold the Constitution that was introduced by them without gathering the consent of UHW residents.

1st Feb: Residents in large numbers attend the Meeting called to ratify the Constitution drafted by the Drafting Committee. In the Meeting residents also voice the need to amend certain hostel rules. In the process of this discussion it was decided that further suggestions and feedback should be collected.

3rd Feb: The Constitution drafted and ratified by residents is submitted to the hostel authorities. 221 signatures, which constitutes an Absolute Majority of the present hostel population, are collected in support of the Constitution. In the covering letter the residents request for a speedy response, i.e. a response within one week.

6th-10th Feb: A survey to collect the residents’ opinions on hostel rules is circulated in all the blocks. Nearly 160 residents fill out the survey. Almost all the residents opt for some kind of change in hostel rules.

13th Feb: Due to the delayed response of the authorities, and lack of any communication from them, another Meeting of the residents is called. All those present and voting agree to boycott dinner on 14th February.

14th Feb: After collecting more signatures of the residents in support of the boycott call, the memorandum intimating the authorities of the boycott is submitted to avoid wastage of food. Almost half of the hostel residents agree to boycott dinner on 14th. Rather than being concerned about the condition of the residents boycotting dinner, the authorities spent the whole day individually intimidating those who support the boycott call. The students were compelled to write application saying they withdraw from the boycott. Even after submitting such applications, many such students continued to boycott dinner. This clearly reflects the moral victory of the residents.

16th Feb: A secret poll is held during dinner time by the residents to ask the residents whether they want to carry on with the protest or not. Residents in full strength supported the continuance of the campaign. The polling is intervened by the Warden trying to take pictures and intimidate the girls. Then, around 9.30 pm Asst.Proctor Mr. Kasim walks in with the Warden and the Resident tutor. He invites the residents to talk. A discussion takes place where he is intimated of all the issues of the campaign and the individual victimization of the residents who had signed the memorandum for boycotting dinner on the 14th. He invites a few residents to the Proctor’s Office the next day, to talk to the Proctor, with their memorandums. The residents were unable to understand the reason for the intervention of Proctor’s Office as it was not a law and order situation, yet they agreed.

17th Feb: A delegation of residents goes to submit the memorandum at around 1.30 pm. They are called again by the Asst. Proctor at around 3.30 pm to talk. They talk to him in detail about the issues covered in the memorandum. The Proctor was not available and so the residents were not able to meet her then. At around 4.35 pm the Proctor herself called the residents to meet her at the Proctor’s Office. The residents went and started to brief her about the issues, but the Proctor was in a haste to leave for a meeting at 5.00 pm and left this meeting mid-way. Thus no conclusion was reached on this day. Bu the Proctor’s Office did assure that individual victimization of the resident will certainly stop.

18th Feb: Despite the given assurance that no victimization will take place, the Warden called up the parents of a number of students. In this conversation the picture painted was such that the residents were portrayed as ruckus makers. The residents of the hostel come from different sections of the society and such a false picture may be taken apprehensively by some households.

20th Feb: Since the authorities did not stand by their own words and the victimization continued, the residents agreed to hold a Mass Meeting outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office on the 21st February. In the evening of the 20th, the Provost comes to the hostel and called for a meeting with all the residents immediately. The only conclusion that could be reached was that the authorities gave it in writing that a managing committee Meeting will be held between 8th March and 15th March to resolve the issue. In return, the residents gave in writing that they will not hold the protest outside the VC’s office because they were assured that no victimization shall take place and that the meeting would be held within the given dates. The residents mentioned that they reserve the right to intimate the Vice Chancellor about the situation in the Hostel.

29th Feb to 12th March: Despite the assurance that no resident would be asked to explain her stand on the campaign, Maya John, a C-block resident is given letter after letter, asking her to explain her stand and to give clarifications for different allegations put on her.

13th March: Without informing the residents, the promised Managing Committee Meeting is held on this date in a very hushed up manner without any student’s representative, without the knowledge of the residents. This meeting continued for an hour and no notice was put up about the results of the meeting.

Contact: Maya John (91-9350272637)

ITI-Polytechnic students extend their support to Maruti Workers

Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)
All India Revolutionary Youth Organization, Haryana State Committee.
ITI-Polytechnic Students’ Committee
Munshi Premchand Library, Dharodi, Distt. Jind, Haryana.
Ph. :07206621090

Comrade Sonu Gurjar,
Red Salute,

We, the students of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Polytechnic institutes of Haryana, heartily congratulate you for the struggle you have waged against the oppressive, unjust and adamant Maruti Management and extend revolutionary greetings to your struggle. We have been following the struggle you have waged through strike and other means for the legitimate demands for the last four months, are in constant touch with it and getting inspiration from it. We are well aware that we will be joining the factories in one or two years and we will be facing the same oppressive conditions that you are fighting against, whether it is a question of low wages, long working hours, unequal pay for the same work, or the question forming the union. Thus if your struggle attains victory, it will be a victory not only for you but it would a victory for the future of many of the students who are studying in ITI and Polytechnic. We are also aware that the Maruti Management is trying all legitimate-illegitimate means to weaken your struggle. They are enrolling new recruits to continue with the production on the one hand and weaken your struggle on the other.

We assure you that until the Maruti Management agrees to concede on your demands and our struggle is victorious, none of the student will apply for job in Maruti industry and will not allow Maruti Management to hold campus placements in ITI and Polytechnic institutes. If we go and work in Maruti now it will not only be your defeat but our own defeat and it will be a setback to our future.

We, the students of ITI-Polytechnic, once again extend our full support to your struggle and hope that the victory will be ours.

Inquilab Zindabad.

For Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS),
ITI-Polytechnic Students’ Committee.

Video: Students in Solidarity with Maruti Suzuki Workers (Sep 11)