Your editorial, ‘Elitist higher education and JNU protest’ (12 November, 2019), has rightly poin-ted out that increase in fees for higher education is nothing but discrimination against the poor and the marginalized. Ironically, the rich market players are getting more and more subsidies in the name of incentives, and for making good their bad loans. Moreover, we have to pay through the nose for subsidizing comforts and facilities enjoyed by our politicians, even though some of them are very rich. Even the poor people of our country have to share a great chunk of this burden in the form of indirect taxes, which constitute the major part of the tax regime. But can’t we expect in return subsidy in education for our own children?
The way in which Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students are being treated for demanding a rollback in the proposed hike of hostel fees so that they could pursue their higher studies is a shame. The students said that two of the five boarders could not afford the hiked fees and as a result it would destroy their aspirations and merits for higher education. This will further make education in our country a commodity only for the rich and higher middle-class people.
After doing his graduation from Presidency College in Kolkata, Noble laureate Abhijit Banerjee got his master’s degree from JNU. He said that JNU gave him the opportunity to know about real India for the first time. JNU’s fee structure and its strict adherence to the policy on which it was created – which is to give the opportunity of education even to the marginalized meritorious students of our country – has helped it become a model of pluralist India. Meritorious students from rural India, Adivasi India, Dalit India and economically challenged India get a chance to pursue higher studies in JNU. Instead of destroying the egalitarian idea of JNU, it is indeed necessary to spread this idea to other universities, as well.
A country cannot prosper if a large section of its population’s right to education gets hijacked. Education is indeed the only way to break the vicious cycle of poverty.