Protest Rally (from Arts Faculty to VC Office),
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
Supported and Organized by
Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS)