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Farmer’s son to student who lost father, JNU fee hike has many worried

Around 40% of students admitted to the varsity in 2017 had a parental income of less than Rs 12,000 per month, as per the university’s annual report for the academic year 2017-2018.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
Updated: November 15, 2019 7:37:37 am
Farmer’s son to student who lost father, JNU fee hike has many worried At the protest against the fee hike earlier this week. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

With Jawaharlal Nehru University hiking hostel fee and introducing new charges, several students on campus said they might find it difficult to continue pursuing studies. Around 40% of students admitted to the varsity in 2017 had a parental income of less than Rs 12,000 per month, as per the university’s annual report for the academic year 2017-2018. The Indian Express speaks to some students on how the hike could impact them.

Kamran Nezami Ansari (22) MA Russian, 2nd year

Ansari, who studied in a government school, joined JNU in BA second year. Hailing from Bihar’s Sasaram, his father works in a crockery shop, and earns

Rs 6,000-7,000 a month. His mother is a homemaker. His brother is pursuing BA in German from Aligarh Muslim University, while his sister is a Class IX student at a government school in Sasaram.

Ansari manages with his merit cum means (MCM) scholarship of Rs 2,000, given by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, and some money from home. “In JNU, even if you have Rs 10 in your pocket, you can survive. If the fee is hiked, I won’t be able to ask for more money from home, so I might have to drop out,” he said.

Rakesh Kumar (19) BA Spanish, 1st year

Hailing from Rajasthan’s Barmer, Kumar said his father is a farmer who owns 30 bighas, while his mother is a homemaker. A water crisis, he said, has made most of the land fallow: “Only 5-7 bighas are cultivable… Our family income is not more than Rs 40,000 a year.”

While he studied in a government school, his elder brother dropped out after Class X due to a financial crisis at home and works in a steel factory in Surat. Kumar also has a younger brother in Class X in a government school. “I cannot manage with a fee hike, I will have to leave education and work,” he said.

Usman Ahmad (20) BA Pashto, 3rd year

Ahmad, from UP’s Bahraich, said he studied in a public school where fee was not more than Rs 100 a month. His father’s death from a heart attack five years ago threw the family into a financial crisis. “He used fix horseshoes on horses,” he said.

Ahmad’s elder brothers work as a tailor and a mechanic. He also has two younger brothers — one completing his graduation from a government college near home, and another in Class X.

“My brother, the mechanic, sends money home regularly… They manage to give me Rs 3,000 per month somehow. If the fee is increased, I won’t be able to ask for more. I will go back home,” he said.

Mohd Shad (23) MA German, 1st year

Shad, from UP’s Saharanpur, did his graduation from AMU, where he managed due to the state minority scholarship. “The tuition fee was covered… some amount would be left, with which I paid the mess bill,” he said.

His father is a farmer who owns 10 bighas of land, but has now given it on rent as they do not have the machinery required for cultivation. “My mother is a homemaker. The only income we get is from the land, which is around Rs 50,000 per year,” he said.

Shad’s younger sister is studying fashion designing from AMU and is also managing with the minority scholarship. “My uncle provides us some extra financial support. I know my family has incurred debt although they didn’t tell me how much,” he said.

Besides the Rs 2,000 MCM scholarship, Shad earns Rs 3,000 a month by giving tuition. “If there is a fee hike, I have two options — take a bank loan or leave and find a job,” he said.

Nandini Sharma (25) MA Pashto, 1st year

Hailing from Bihar’s Danapur, Sharma completed her graduation in Pashto from JNU. She studied in several army schools as her uncle was in the armed forces. “I don’t know how much the fee was because they never told me,” she said.

Her father is a farmer who owns around 1.5 bighas of land, and mother is a homemaker. “Whenever there is a cultivation on our land, whatever surplus is sold in government shops, that is only our income. This comes to around Rs 90,000 per annum,” she said.

Sharma said she and her younger sister, doing her BA in English from Patna University, take tuition to sustain themselves: “I teach Class X social science, and get around Rs 3,000 per month.”

“For me, there is no option but to leave the university in case of a hike. We can’t work as the class schedule is demanding.”

Vikalp Kumar (24) School of Arts and Aesthetics, MA 1st year

Hailing from Pipariya in Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh, Kumar completed his graduation in Fine Arts from MS University Baroda, where his fee was Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 per semester and mess charges were extra. He completed his schooling from a CBSE-affiliated school.

Kumar’s father works as freelance journalist and his mother is a homemaker. “My father’s income is not consistent but he ends up earning around Rs 60,000 per annum on an average,” he said. Kumar said he would find it “excruciatingly difficult” to pay the hiked fee.

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