Thursday, November 20, 2014

Higher Education and Student Politics in Contemporary India: A Note

Saqib Khan

                                               
Introduction
The recent unrest in Jadavpur University and Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla has once again brought student politics into the forefront. The unrest seemed to create a ripple-effect across campuses in the country. This note is a modest attempt to understand changes in university systems and higher education and implications for student politics.

We begin with looking at a few important features concerning higher education[1] and student politics in contemporary India. These features include an increasing financial burden on students, caste discrimination and harassment and violence against women, attempts to crush democratic protests and restrict political and democratic spaces; and inaction against communal and conservative forces. It argues that recognising these features will be crucial for student politics and to launch struggles in the interests of student community.

Increasing financial burden on students: Fee hike and reduced funding
The first feature that is becoming evident across colleges, universities and higher educational institutions in the country is the increasing financial burden on students. This has been mainly due to fee hike and reduced funding for higher education. Students are increasingly being made to bear the burden of rising costs of education and stagnant scholarships/fellowships.

In the last few years universities across the country have increased fees. In 2012, Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) increased the fees of all its courses and hostel accommodation. The increase was in the range from Rs. 500 to nearly Rs. 20,000 and met with a protest from students. In 2013, several colleges of Delhi University (DU) hiked their fees. In February 2014, Panjab University (PU) hiked fees for all regular courses by 20 per cent from the academic session of 2014-15. Apart from the tuition fee, the University also increased the hostel fee and the examination fee by 10 per cent.[2] In March 2014, Orissa government proposed about 20 per cent hike in the fee structure for at least 128 technical and professional colleges in the State.[3] A similar proposal by Mumbai University (MU) in April 2014 attempted to enable its affiliated colleges to increase their fees by 25 per cent. The proposal, however, was met with stiff opposition from teachers’ and students’ organisations and had to be put on hold.[4] The International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai has recently increased the semester fee from Rs. 3500/ to Rs. 13000/ for MA students and from Rs. 6000/ to Rs. 11500/ for MPhil/PhD students. A few weeks back Himachal Pradesh University (HPU), Shimla saw a steep revision of fee that led to massive protests by student organisations. Some universities have also increased their mess charges over the years. The dining hall of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai has seen a hike almost every year: from Rs. 6000/ per semester in 2009 the current dining hall fee of the institute is Rs.14000/ per semester. 

The above process is fallout of curtailment in government expenditure and linked to the prevailing political economy that has unleashed a tendency towards privatization of sectors like education.[5] One of the important areas of this curtailment has been the reduction in non-plan allocations to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and other higher educational institutions (Tilak 2010). Also, looking at the proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on higher education in India between 1990-91 and 2011-12, Sarkar and Mitra (2014) show that resource allocation towards higher education steadily decreased between 1990-91 and 1998-98 from 0.43 per cent to 0.37 per cent of GDP. There was some revival for two years in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, after which it again started declining. Though there has been an increase from 2008 onwards, public spending on higher education remains below 1 per cent of GDP.

The above doctrine of fee increase, curtailment in government expenditure and push towards privatization has been reflected in government plan and policy after the introduction of economic reforms in the 1990s. This could be found in recommendations of a number of committees that were set up for reforming higher education. One of the early committees that gave its report on this issue was the Punnayya Committee (1992-93). Despite its concern for higher education, the Punnayya Committee recommended that the universities should raise their own resources and reduce their dependence on government (Tilak 2004; Sharma 2009). One of the mechanisms of raising resources suggested by the Committee was, in addition to starting short-term courses, raising the tuition fees and other fees, to be paid by the students, keeping in view the rate of inflation (Sharma 2009). Following the recommendations of Punnayya Committee on central universities and more specifically Swaminathan Committee (1994) on technical education, higher education institutions were required to generate at least 20 per cent of their requirements on their own, particularly through fees (Tilak 2004).  

In this regard, the two reports prepared by the UGC committees in 1999- the Mahmud-ur-Rahman Committee and the Anandakrishnan Committee- played a very important role. The Anandakrishnan Committee reviewed the maintenance grant norms for colleges affiliated to Delhi University and recommended an enhanced fee structure. The Mahmud-ur-Rahman Committee examined the fee structure of all Central universities and other universities and suggested measures for an upward revision in the fee rate. Both reports put forward the idea that the government alone could not bear the cost of higher education and “society had to bear the cost of higher education, if not entirely, at least substantially”. Both reports suggested a higher tuition fee rates, while the Anandakrishnan Committee also suggested a substantial hike in development fees and left it open to individual colleges to decide the fee amount for student facilities. A reason given for such hike by both reports was that it would give “sobriety to the system and to the institutions and is also helpful in maintaining law and order”; the assumption being that if students pay more, they would be more serious about their studies (Rajalakshmi 2000).

The Ambani-Birla Report of 2000 went a step ahead and was more forthright in suggesting privatization of higher education. Set up under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, the Report titled ‘A Policy Framework for Reforms in Education’ by Special Subject Group of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, also known as the Mukesh Ambani-Kumaramanglalam Birla Report, recommended that the “government must focus strongly on primary and secondary education and leave higher and professional education to the private sector”.[6]

Government bodies and officials have directly pushed forward the doctrine of curtailment in government funding of higher education and its privatization over the years. The National Knowledge Commission’s  (NKC) ‘Report to the Nation 2006-09’ suggested that the universities see that the revenue from fees account for at least 20 per cent of their total expenditure and levy user-fee on the users of various facilities offered by them. The report wanted the universities to revise their fees once in two years through “price indexation” (Viswanathan 2007).[7] The Hoda Committee, constituted by the Planning Commission as a High Level Group on Services Sector, recommended more private and corporate participation in the higher education sector in March 2008. In order to achieve so, it suggested removal of current restrictions imposed by the regulatory bodies like UGC and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) on affiliation of private institutions.[8] In 2011, Planning Commission’s approach paper to the Twelfth Five Year Plan made it clear that there was no scope for a rise in public funding of higher education and the government was looking at the private sector as the engine growth in the higher education sector. The approach paper said:
“Resource constraints will make it difficult to meet the need of expanding higher education entirely through the public sector. Not all private educational institutions are of good quality and some are quite inferior. Minimum standards will have to be ensured. But free entry will, in the end, automatically weed out the poor quality institutions. Private initiatives in higher education, including viable and innovative PPP-models, will therefore, be actively promoted. The current ‘not-for-profit’ tag in the education sector should be re-examined in a pragmatic manner…”[9]

In May 2012, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia echoed the Commission’s prescription where he argued for stopping the funding for universities and raising tuition fees across the board. He also argued for an increased role for private sector investment in higher education. In fact in January 2012, the Planning Commission had constituted the Narayana Murthy Committee whose report recognised the corporate participation in the higher education as ‘vital’ and gave several recommendations to ‘encourage this participation’.[10]   

In 2013, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) advised the central universities to increase tuition fees and other charges across all streams to cut down their dependence on the government. This idea of hiking fees was supported by the Planning Commission in the 12th plan document which also wanted state governments to increase tuition fees in their public-funded institutions.[11] The Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) were one of the first institutions to follow this advisory by increasing annual tuition fees for BTech students from Rs 50,000 to Rs 90,000- a hike of 80 per cent.[12]

The above process of fee hike and cuts in government funding for higher education then brings the whole question of access and equity. The enrolment in higher education as a whole in the country remains low. According to NSS 64th Round (2007-08), the total Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education was 17.2 per cent. The All India Survey on Higher Education 2010-11 puts this figure at 19.4 per cent. Both these surveys pointed out that the figures for SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims and women were even lower.[13] Also, estimates from the NSS 64th Round (2007-08) and NSS 61st Round (2004-05) bring out variation across the states and significant rural and urban disparities in access to higher education in the country.[14] 

Cuts in funding of higher education and frequent increase in fees coupled with stagnant scholarship/fellowships severely affects academic aspirations of large sections of students, especially those coming from historically disadvantaged sections. The push towards privatisation of higher education and cuts in funding means absence of safeguards like reservation policy and dilution or removal of other safeguards meant for such students.
Caste discrimination, and harassment and violence against women
The second feature relates to the issue of discrimination on the lines of caste/tribe and harassment and violence against women in campuses. Such incidents are coming out in the open from campuses across the country.

It has been argued that caste discrimination continues to afflict India’s institutions of higher learning.[15] In recent times, groups and reports have highlighted discrimination and harassment of SC/ST students in higher educational institutions, even leading to suicides in some cases. Insight Foundation, a group striving to end caste-based discrimination in campuses, has compiled a list of and case studies of eighteen suicides by SC/ST students studying in reputed institutions of higher education across India in the past four years, including All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and IITs. The UGC took a note of the issue and brought out a notice in July 2011 wherein it directed the institutions to take action against those indulging in caste discrimination and to see that their officials/faculty members were more sensitive while dealing with incidents of caste discrimination. 

The Sukhdeo Thorat Committee Report of 2007 was probably the first effort in independent India to probe into the kind of caste discrimination suffered by SC/ST students in any institution of higher learning. Following allegations from students and news reports of blatant caste discrimination practised against SC and ST students in AIIMS, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry had instituted a three-member committee headed by the then UGC Chairperson, S K Thorat, to enquire into the conditions prevalent in the institution. The Thorat Committee  came out with its report in May 2007 and exposed the various forms of caste discrimination practised against SC/ST students both by other students and faculty members there and accused AIIMS authorities of ‘encouraging hostile caste discrimination’. It said that these students faced discrimination at all level right from consultation with teachers, in the classroom, during examination and even in hostel. However, AIIMS and the Indian government chose to completely ignore its findings and recommendations. 

In 2012, the Balachandra Mungekar Committee, appointed by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, looked into allegations of caste discrimination faced by SC students at Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, Delhi. It indicted the institute administration for caste discrimination where 35 SC students were failed repeatedly in one particular subject and held that: “Caste discrimination takes on insidious forms in higher education institutions across the country”.[16] Thus, it is a two-way struggle for the SC/ST students: first to enter premier institutions of higher learning and another to survive in these institutions (EPW 2007).

Incidents of sexual harassment and violence abound in Indian higher educational institutions. A 1996 report on sexual harassment in Delhi University by the Gender Studies Group revealed that 92 per cent of the women interviewed reported being sexually harassed at some time or the other during their campus life (Chakravarti 2004). The report said that 48 per cent of women students had faced sexual harassment by teaching and non- teaching staff. In addition, more than 91 per cent of women living in hostels on the university campus, 88 per cent of women living off-campus in the university neighbourhood, and 85 per cent of women living in staff quarters on campus faced sexual harassment on campus roads. Such street harassment was so common and regular, the report stated, that victims had come to see it as “an everyday reality” and “a normal part of women’s lives” (The Hindu 2000). A study by the Department of Women’s Studies, Lucknow University in 2000 uncovered the startling fact that every female student of the university experiences sexual harassment at least thrice a day, and that approximately 90 per cent of women teachers also experience daily harassment and humiliation (The Hindu 2000). In a survey conducted by Parivartan, the gender forum of Kirori Mal College, Delhi University in 2013, around 70 per cent of the women between the ages of 19 and 25 admitted to feeling unsafe even with heavy police presence in DU’s North Campus, while an overwhelming 93 per cent said they avoid hanging around the campus during evenings for fear of being harassed. 56 per cent reported that they experienced some form of harassment very often.[17] 

It was only after the landmark judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the Vishakha case in 1997 that laid down guidelines to be followed by establishments in dealing with complaints about sexual harassment. The Vishakha guidelines categorically stated that it was the duty of the employer or other responsible persons in the workplace or institution to prevent sexual harassment and provide mechanisms for the resolution of complaints. The guidelines aimed to provide for the effective enforcement of the basic human right of gender equality and guarantee against sexual harassment and abuse, more particularly against sexual harassment at work places (Patel 2005).

Since 1998 the UGC has also issued circulars to universities advising them to establish a permanent cell and a committee and to develop guidelines to combat sexual harassment, and violence against women at the universities and colleges. It was after such directives from judiciary and government bodies that universities and colleges came up with Committee Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment against women and to deal with cases of discrimination and sexual harassment in a time-bound manner. In response to the violent attack against three women students in three different places within a week in Delhi University campuses in 2002, the National Commission for Women (NCW) gave several recommendations to prevent the occurrence of rape and sexual harassment in and around campuses (Patel 2005).

Though it will be difficult to analyse the reduction in the scale of violence and harassment against women in campuses due to the above measures, it can be held that women students are confronting and contesting sexual harassment on the campus and forcing the authorities to take action. The Jadavpur University case is the latest example. It is increasingly becoming part of official and university discourse that violence and harassment of women, in any form, would not be tolerated. 

Crushing democratic protests and curbing political and democratic spaces
The third feature relates to the increasing use of state and university machinery against democratic student protests and curbs on political and democratic spaces in higher educational institutions. Violence and criminalisation of student politics in some places has opened spaces for university administration in other places to ask for police violence to deal with democratic opposition from students, as happened in the case of recent HPU, Shimla and Jadavpur University (EPW 2014).

Firstly, increasing use of state and university machinery is being witnessed across universities against students even when they raise their concerns in a democratic way. 
In March 2014, police lathi-charged students peacefully protesting against the fee hike in Panjab University outside Vice Chancellor’s (VC) office and also slapped false cases against some of them. In July 2014, several college students were injured in Gangtok when Sikkim police lathicharged them for their protest against hike in college fees. The students were demanding a roll back in the four fold increase in semester fees of state run colleges in the state. The year-long agitation over four-year undergraduate programme of DU in 2013 saw active hostility of university administration towards demands of students and faculty (EPW 2014). In February 2013, students protesting against the visit of Narendra Modi to Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), DU were lathi-charged and subjected to water cannon by the police. 

Recently in September, Jadavpur University students demanding a fresh probe into an alleged molestation case on campus and staging a dharna were lathicharged by police in middle of the night. Many were injured and arrested. Its ripples were felt across the country where several student groups came out in solidarity with the Jadavpur students. It should also be noted that the University had a history of not bringing in police inside the campus by the teachers and VCs. In the early 1970s, VC Gopal Chandra Sen had refused to allow police inside the campus despite specific threat perception to his life (Basu 2014).

A similar ripple was created by the death of Students’ Federation of India (SFI) activist Sudipto Gupta in April 2013 when he died of injuries in police custody while being transported in a bus to prison. Sudipto was participating in a protest against a series of moves by the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-led state government in West Bengal which sought to curb campus democracy, mainly the plans to limit the students’ union elections to once every two years.

In September 2014, HPU, Shimla saw brutal assault by the police against students and many were injured and also arrested. The students were protesting against hike in fees, in some cases more than 100 per cent, and restoration of direct elections for Student Central Association by holding demonstrations inside the campus as well as boycotting classes. At first, the university administration refused to reconsider this sudden and sharp fee hike and as the protests intensified, it took the help of the police to disperse the protesting students (EPW 2014). Later, a three-member committee was constituted to review this hike.

Secondly, we are seeing curbs on political and democratic spaces in higher educational institutions.[18] This has mainly taken the undemocratic form of ban on student union elections across colleges and universities till very recently. Over the last two decades or so, violence in some campuses has been given as a pretext to do this.

Following violence and murder of a student in 1992, Maharashtra government enacted Maharashtra Universities Act 1994 which prohibited student elections in the state, though off late there has been an increasing demand to bring it back. Universities like that of Mumbai have a Students’ Council whereby candidates are selected by the University on the basis of ‘academic merit’. In Haryana ban on student union body elections was imposed in 1996 during late chief minister Bansi Lal’s regime, while in Punjab it was done much earlier in the 1980s. The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students’ union had been dissolved in 1997 after violence on campus during the election process, which had left two students dead. It was only in October 2007 that the BHU Students’ Council came into existence. In Allahabad University, one of the oldest Central Universities in India, students’ union elections were banned when a trail of violence, including a candidate's murder, marred the 2005 elections. In September 2007, the Uttar Pradesh government imposed a blanket ban on the election of students unions in all universities and degree colleges. This was done to improve “academic atmosphere”.[19]

The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) students’ union was revived in 2011 after a gap of four years after prolonged student agitations. The union had been dissolved on account of student violence. Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) dissolved a duly elected students’ union in 2006 and no new elected body took over the charge after that. In 2012, Jamia VC Najeeb Jung ruled out the possibility of holding students’ union election on the campus. Not only elections, it has been reported that in recent years, Jamia administration had made it impossible for students to organise academic and political programmes on the campus. Posters and leaflets cannot be distributed and even seminars or meetings by students on any issue are prohibited in Jamia. Close circuit cameras have been installed throughout the campus and security guards are allowed to use intimidating tactics.[20]

Despite directives from the Supreme Court and the Lyngdoh Committee Report, governments and universities have continued to defy them. In fact of the 40 plus Central Universities, only a handful have student unions in the first place. In 2006, the Supreme Court directed that student elections be held in universities and colleges across the country within five years. In the same year, the Lyngdoh Committee Report had also given its recommendation that “Universities and colleges across the country must ordinarily conduct elections for the appointment of students to student representative bodies”.[21]

The above attempts to scuttle democratic student protests and curb political and democratic spaces in higher educational institutions are not an isolated phenomenon and are a continuity of a systematic attack against all forms of organized collective politics over the last two decades in India (Shubhanil 2013). There is a link between authoritarianism of the university administration and the push towards privatisation of higher education.[22] The above attempts can be seen in recommendations of several committees and reports. One of the important imports of the Anandakrishnan Committee and Mahmud-ur-Rahman Committee reports of 1999 was that increase in fees would help in maintaining law and order in institutions. The idea that organized student politics is problematic and needs to be done away with was best put forward by the Birla-Ambani report of 2000. The report while arguing for privatization of higher education recommended to “ban any form of political activity on campuses of universities and educational institutions”. The suggestion of the National Knowledge Commission’s ‘Report to the Nation 2006-09’ that the Vice-Chancellors of the universities should function as a Chief Executive Officers shows an attempt to “convert universities into highly authoritarian institutions, run rather like factories sans trade union rights” (NUEPA 2007: 13).[23]

Despite its important recommendation in 2006 that universities and colleges across the country must ordinarily conduct elections, the Lyngdoh Committee Report argued for a ‘restricted activism’- where students could democratically elect students’ union but would be allowed to take collective stands on a handful of issues pertaining to their campus alone. This meant that students would not have the right to protest the political policies that determine educational reforms or take a stand for social justice in any mass movement.[24]

Inaction against communal and conservative forces
The fourth feature relates to the regularity of communal and conservative intervention, often violent, in university and higher educational spaces and the relative failure of state and university machinery to prevent or take concrete action against these. While we are witnessing an increasing onslaught of state and university machinery on democratic and secular protests of students, we see the impunity with which communal and conservative forces have acted upon in universities in recent times.

Some of these incidents in recent years which evoked a somewhat national outcry include the attack on Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune and destruction of rare manuscripts by a group owing allegiance to Sambhaji Brigade in protest against the ‘disparaging’ remarks on Shivaji in James Laine’s book in January 2004, the assault on Professor Sabharwal by ABVP leaders in Ujjain and subsequently his death in August 2006, the attack on faculty of fine arts at the M S University, Baroda by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists in May 2007, the vandalism and attack on Head of history Department, DU by ABVP in February 2008 against inclusion of A. K. Ramanujan’s essay on Ramayana in DU syllabus and the subsequent dropping of the essay in October 2011 by DU’s Academic Council under pressure from ABVP, the chopping of the hand of Professor T J Joseph of Newman College, Idukki district in Kerala in July 2010 by religious fundamentalists and the withdrawal of Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey from Mumbai University syllabus in September 2010 after protests from Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (student wing of Shiv Sena). Similarly, in West Bengal, colleges and universities have become the worst victims of violence and anarchy after the Trinamool Congress government came into power. There have been several incidents of ruling party’s attack on students and teachers in higher educational institutions in the state- from Presidency College to Kolkata University, Rabindra Bharati University, Gourbanga University, etc.

Also, the result of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections seems to have given a fillip to sections of communal and conservative groups in campuses. The September 2014 attack on the VC of Vikram University in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh is a good example. The VC was attacked by VHP and Bajrang Dal goons for appealing for financial support for the flood hit victims of Jammu and Kashmir.

Implications for Student Politics
The above features will have crucial implications for student struggles in higher educational institutions across the country in coming days. Fee hike is not a matter only of one college or university now and realizing this political-economic reality is critical for student struggles. Fee hike and cuts in government spending are now, at a larger level, core ingredients of neoliberal assault on higher education. It then becomes all the more pertinent for student politics to fight this assault and push the agenda of a publicly-funded higher education with more vigour. There is an urgent need to highlight what Kothari Commission (1964-66) had put forward:
“It is undesirable to regard fees as a source of revenue. They are the most regressive form of taxation, fall more heavily on the poorer classes of society and act as an anti-egalitarian force. Suggestions have been made to make them progressive by relating them, on a graduated scale, to the income of the parent and the size of the family. But this would not be administratively feasible and, in a country where sixty per cent of the population has an income of less than Rs. 20 per head per month, their yield would be almost negligible. It would, on the whole, be much better to raise the required revenue in some other and more equitable form than to depend on fees. We recommend, therefore, that the country should gradually work towards a stage when all education would be tuition-free” (p. 186).

End to caste discrimination, making the campuses safer for women and exposing the agenda of communal and conservative forces will also have to be on the agenda of student struggles. Increasing attacks on democratic protests of students and curbs on political and democratic spaces will demand a rethink of strategies. It remains a long and arduous struggle ahead for student politics, but it will be through struggles on concrete issues like the above that the balance of forces can be tilted in favour of the student community.

Summing up
This note attempted to highlight some key features of higher education and student politics in contemporary India. Firstly, it can be seen that there is an increasing financial burden on students across colleges and universities mainly due to fee hike and reduced funding for higher education. Fee hike and curtailment in government expenditure are not isolated phenomena and are linked to the push towards the privatization of education, reflected in recommendations of several committees and government policy prescriptions since the 1990s. Such measures, together with stagnant scholarship/fellowships, will severely affect academic aspirations of large sections of students, especially when the higher education enrolment of the country is low and more so for SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims and women.

Secondly, incidents of caste discrimination have been reported from several institutions in recent times; in some cases it has even led to deaths. Incidents of harassment and violence against women are also coming to light from universities across the country and at times these have led to framing of guidelines, etc. It is a hopeful sign that caste discrimination and harassment and violence against women are being challenged and authorities are being forced take these seriously and act upon.

Thirdly, we see an increasing use of state and university machinery against democratic student protests and curbs on political and democratic spaces in higher educational institutions, mainly ban on student union elections. Violence in some campuses has often been used as a pretext for taking these steps. Such steps, especially curbs on political and democratic spaces, are in turn linked to the push towards privatization of higher education and have been part of official reports and government policy.

Lastly, we see inaction on the part of state and university machinery when it comes to preventing or dealing strictly with communal and conservative interventions, often violent, in campuses. Instead such interventions have often been used by state and university machinery to scuttle democratic and secular protests of students as well as curb political and democratic spaces of students.

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The author is a research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai






[1]The note has limited itself to government-funded colleges, universities and institutions
[2] In fact PU had imposed tuition fee hike in the middle of the session in November 2013, but it had to roll it back due to protests by students.
[3]  See Abraham (2014)
[4]  See Rao (2014)
[5] See Prabhat Patnaik, ‘Education and Globalization’, Social Scientist, September-October 2005. See also NUEPA (2007).
[8] ‘Report of the High Level Group on Services Sector’, Planning Commission, March 2008, available at http://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/genrep/rep_ser.pdf
[9] See the full approach paper titled ‘Faster, Sustainable and More Inclusive Growth: An Approach to the Twelfth Five Year Plan’, Planning Commission, October 2011 (available at http://planningcommission.gov.in/plans/planrel/12appdrft/appraoch_12plan.pdf)
[10] See ‘Committee on Corporate Participation in Higher Education: Report of N R Narayana Murthy Committee’, Planning Commission, 2012
[11]  See Mohanty (2013). The XII Plan says: “The Central and the State Universities should be statutorily required to adopt revision of fee structure payable by the students by at least 10% for every three year period” (UGC 2011, p. 77); the Plan advocates development of “Newer Models of Private Sector Participation in Higher Education” (p. 79).
[12] In fact the Kakodkar Committee had recommended increasing the fee for undergraduate, Masters and PhD programmes to Rs 2-2.5 lakh per year which was finally revised downwards by the Group of Directors and the Empowered Task Force (Dhar 2013).
[13] According to NSS 64th Round (2007-08), total GER was 17.2 %- Males: 19.0 %, Females: 15.2 %, Others: 26.64 %, SC: 11.54 %, OBC: 14.72 %, ST: 7.67 %, OBC: 14.72 %, Muslims: 9.51 % & Non-Muslims %: 18.54, Rural: 11.1 %, Urban: 30.0 (UGC 2011). According to All India Survey Higher Education 2010-11, GER in higher education was 19.4 %- Males:  20.8 %, Females: 17.9 %, SC: 13.5 % and ST: 11.2 %. SC students constitute 11.1% and ST students 4.4% of the total enrolment in higher education. 3.8% students belong to Muslim Minority community (Government of India 2013). Although the enrolment rate are generally lower for the females compared to the males, the females belonging to the lower castes and some religious groups (like Muslims) suffer more acutely in accessing higher education than other female (UGC 2008).
[14]  Estimates from NSS 61st Round (2004-05) show that the GER was lower in states of Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, MP, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and Jharkhand. It also shows significant rural and urban disparities; the enrolment rate being 6.73 % and 19.80 % for the rural and the urban areas respectively (UGC 2008)
[15]  See ‘Caste, Higher Education and Senthil’s Suicide’, Senthilkumar Solidarity Committee, EPW, August 16, 2008
[16]  Rahi Gaikwad, ‘How casteist is our varsity?’, The Hindu, October 3, 2012
[17]             Vijetha S.N, ‘Most women feel unsafe on DU North Campus, reveals survey’, The Hindu, March 11, 2013
[18] The Yashpal Committee Report (Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of higher education’, 2009) has also pointed out the erosion of democratic space over the last few decades in higher educational institutions across the country. 
[19] Vijay Sharma, ‘Maya bans student union elections in UP’, Hindustan Times, September 8, 2007, Lucknow
[20] Naveed Iqbal, ‘Jamia Millia Islamia students hold protest against fee hike’, The Indian Express, October 19, 2012, New Delhi
[22]  Naveed Iqbal, ‘Jamia Millia Islamia students hold protest against fee hike’, The Indian Express, October 19, 2012, New Delhi
[23] See also the section titled ‘Note on Higher Education’ of the NKC report, available at http://knowledgecommission.gov.in/downloads/report2009/eng/report09.pdf
[24]  See ‘Democracy in the Campus’, http://www.sfiwb.org/issues04.php


The author is a research scholar at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

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