Through the OccupyUGC movement students in Delhi have been waging a united struggle outside the UGC office since the 21st of October.
The protests have been going on against scrapping of the Non-NET Fellowship granted to research scholars by the University Grants Commission (UGC). Undergraduates, post-graduates, teachers and intellectuals have joined the movement to protest against the government’s decision to privatize education.
Giving in to World Bank’s insistence to reduce fiscal deficit, the Indian government has been cutting funds and subsidy to important sectors in the economy, higher education being one amongst many.
The budget for 2015-16 saw a decrease in fund allocation of education by 17% and an increase in that of defence by 7.7%. The decision to scrap the non-NET fellowship came as part of this fund cut policy.
On 5th November, students protesting outside the UGC led a march to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to push their demands of restoring, increasing and expanding the Non-Net Fellowship. A halt in the process of fund cut in education and spending 10% of the budget in education has been asked for.
Protestors have been lathi-charged twice, beaten by the Delhi police, abused, intimidated and threatened with dire consequences. The UGC, however, has remained visibly silent on the issue to date.
It is reported that the Government of India, at the WTO-GATS Conference to be held at the end of this year, would allow 160 member countries of WTO to establish universities in India as commercial ventures. The protestors want India to withdraw this provision from the WTO negotiation.
Today marks thirty days of resistance. A cultural evening for celebration of the struggle has been planned at UGC this evening.