Protest against ‘anti-student’ policies held in City

Protest against ‘anti-student’ policies held in City

Neenu Suresh, a research scholar of National Law School (NLS) and a member of the Bengaluru Collective addressing the protesters. Event was organized by The Student Outpost and the Bengaluru Collective at Town Hall in Bengaluru on Saturday evening.

Students, teachers, lawyers, academics and rights activists from different groups and walks of life assembled together at Town Hall here on Saturday evening to protest against the Central Government’s ‘anti-student’ education policies and to extend solidarity to the ‘Dilli Chalo’ movement.  

The programme began with a prayer and a minute of silence to pay respect to the soldiers who lost their lives in the Pulwama terror attack. Then, there were several speeches, slogans, songs and colourful placards that proclaimed their interest to ‘stop the communalisation, centralisation and commercialisation’ of education in India.

Explaining to DH the reason for holding such a protest, Neenu Suresh, a research scholar of National Law School (NLS) and a member of the Bengaluru Collective, who along with the student group called the Student Outpost (TSO) organised the protest, said that their aim was to originally hold a seminar but then felt the need to protest to give students a voice.

“It’s not actually a sudden thing and as we know in Karnataka, there is a limitation on student unions and protests here. So this meeting becomes all the more important. When students across the country have been protesting for the past five years against many different government measures such as slashing of scholarships, cutting of research grants and plans of scrapping the UGC, students of Bengaluru, which has many premier institutions of the country, felt that they must come out and show solidarity with other student struggles,” she argued.

Shalom, an organising member of the TSO, also addressed the crowd whose composition included a wide range of local institutions and urged the students of Bengaluru to pull together to overturn the ban on student unions.

“We, the students of Bengaluru, are afraid of politics and are apathetic to it. No student unions are allowed to represent our interests even though we have nominated councils that organise our college festivals. Until we don’t demand and ask our college management to grant us our rights, how do we expect to fight the government on bigger questions of justice? I urge you all to go back to your colleges and demand revocation of the student union ban,”  said Shalom.

When questioned, other students cited other instances of government policies that prompted them to attend such an event.

“Communalisation of education is attacking the very basis of knowledge and we have seen the willful distortion of history by the present government, which is encouraging dangerous trends such as Islamophobia and Casteism,” said Ardra, a 23-year-old student.

Suvarat, a researcher at the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS), meanwhile, lamented that the fact the current government has not delivered on its promises on education. 

“They had pledged 6% GDP spending on education in their manifesto but what we saw was less than 3% in 2018. The other issue is that with increased privatisation, as is the case with the US where publicly taxpayer-funded research will continue to create breakthroughs but the profits and benefits will be passed on to the private players,” he argued.