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Students join protest against `Model Act'

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, FEB. 24. A complete strike was observed at Jawaharlal Nehru University on a call given by its students' union protesting against the University Grant Commission's proposed "Model Act'' for the Indian universities. Students of Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia also joined the protest and took out a march from Mandi House to Parliament Street.

According to the protesters, the "Model Act'' proposed by the NDA Government completely exposes the extremely regressive and anti-student education policies that the RSS-BJP seeks to pursue if it succeeds in regaining political power. The protest action was part of the efforts by the JNUSU and the democratic student organisations to mobilise the student community against the right-wing communal forces to ensure their defeat in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

"The JNUSU believes that the proposal of an uniform Model Act for all universities in the country is in itself objectionable since it amounts to a subversion of the unique character and the specificities of the conditions in which the State universities operate,'' said the JNUSU general secretary, Mona Das.

The students added that equally objectionable were the attempts by the UGC to do away with the democratic rights of the academic community and to curb the autonomy of the universities themselves.

The students are also protesting against the suggestion in the concept paper that decision-making bodies of the universities be entirely nominated and that democratic decision, making by committees be replaced by the rule of "senior academics''.

The basic right of students and teachers to associate and protest is sought to be taken-away through the UGC's suggestion of "depoliticising'' universities. The attempt clearly is to stifle any voice of dissent against the policies of commercialisation and communalisation of education.

The students also added that the proposal put forward by the UGC in the concept paper and questionnaire circulated by it, are clearly aimed at giving legitimacy to the anti-students policies that have been pursued by the NDA Government in the first five years. "By presenting the withdrawal of government funding for higher education as an accomplished fact and by making universities responsible for mobilising their entire funds internally, the proposal paves the way for massive fee hikes that would deprive a large section of potential students of the access to higher education. At the same time the UGC's concept paper recommends the development of a "commercial and corporate'' culture within universities by making them dependent on the private sector for funds. The result would be a severe curtailment of their academic autonomy, which is unacceptable,'' the students said.

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