Mumbai students support ‘occupy UGC’ movement

MUMBAI: Displaying solidarity with the ‘occupy UGC’ movement across the country, students from leading institutes in the city will be launching their own campaign on Thursday. As part of their ‘Shiksha ka Sikka’ campaign, students from Mumbai University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), IIT-Bombay and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) plan to send a rupee coin each sealed in an envelope to the University Grants Commission (UGC)/ ministry of human resources and development (MHRD) as a mark of their protest.

“We extend our support to the national movement. We are expecting around 250 students from across the city to participate in the protest on Thursday,” said Ajmal Khan, a PH D student from the TISS. Students have made songs, created slogans, plays as part of their protest at the university’s campus on Thursday. The ‘occupy UGC’ movement started in the country after the UGC decided to withdraw the non-NET fellowship grants given to M Phil and Ph D students. Following protests from students across the country, the ministry had rolled back the circular announcing the discontinuation of the fellowship. “However, it then decided to constitute a review committee for looking into the fellowship with the condition that ‘merit and economic criteria’ will be used to avail it. This is against the principle of a fellowship being provided to all registered students in central, state and deemed universities,” said a protesting student.

Under the fellowship, a grant of Rs 5,000 per month for 18 months is given to M Phil students and Rs 8,000 per month for four years to Ph D students, who do not receive any other UGC grants.The protesting students are demanding that the fellowship should be restored, increased and extended to all students in higher education registered in central, state and deemed universities without the condition of merit, increase in the number of fellowships for existing schemes, including higher education as a fundamental right, and affirmation action policies to be extended regardless of the management of the colleges. Individual institutes from IIT-Bombay, TISS and MU also have their own set of demands, claimed students.