Friday, September 29, 2006

Hunger Strike

Being without food is unthinkable for many even for one course of the day. But doing the same for eight continous days, is really something that is part of the spirit of the student movement of JNU. As a Councillor of the JNU Students' Union, I experienced this when I sat for an 8 day Indefinite Hunger Strike at the Administrative Block of JNU from the 21st of September. This agitational course-which was lifted after the Administration agreed to the major demands of the JNUSU-was mainly on the question of providing financial assistance to the needy students. This demand was formulated after a comprehensive questionnaire survey conducted among the students by the Union in the month of March 2006, where nearly 60% of the respondents pointed out financial constraints on their academics. Thus, the proposals was made whereby, the Means-cum-Merit Scholarship needed to be raised from Rs 600/- PM to Rs 1500/- PM; the income cap would have to be raised from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 Lakh and extending the scheme also to the Ph.D students who were not in receipt of any scholarship till now.

After a number of protest demonstrations and actions, the administration refused to budge. So, the Union went in for a One Day University Strike and even after this the Admn: never heeded to this demand. Thereby, intensyfying the struggle, the JNUSU gave a call for a Relay Hunger Strike which was later converted into an Indefinite Hunger Strike, where yours truly was one of the 15 strikers. Sitting in the Adblock for eight whole days was a wholesome experience. That too, staying alive only by having water and Lime water mixed with salt. This time-to-time tonic was the manna for those eight days!! Also, there was a medical check-up, twice in a day where blood, and urine samples were also collected. As the days passed, people started to wither and collapse. But what kept some of us, including me going was the determination built up within us that the "final victory would be ours"; also strong backing by the leadership of my organization SFI as well as common activists and friends. That kept the flaggering spirits going. Finally when the Adminstration called for the final round of negotiations yesterday night at 11. 30 pm., I was aroused out of sleep. This went on for around 3 hours and finally the deadlock was cleared whereby we emerged victorious and ensuring Rs 1500/- PM for M.Phil/Ph.D students and 1000/- for BA/MA students.

But the greatest experence which I gained from this agitation was that the students never forgot that we struggled for them. As I went along today morning for class campaign and also while sticking the posters of the agreement, the students overwhelmingly came forward to thank and applaud the eforts on the part of the JNUSU. That feeling is the biggest gift for me in this struggle. A Victory which would ensure regular scholarships for the coming generations in the JNU campus is a leagcy for the student movement in this campus. As the slogan we keep renting "The People United Shall Always Be Victorious".


Srini said...

Proud of you, Comrade. Wish I was there to share your pain during those days of fasting and pleasure when the demands got accepted.

Keep up the good work and wishing you the best of luck in taking forward the mission to achieve an as egalitarian as possible campus out of JNU.

Laal Salaam

Anwar Kizhakkekara said...

abhinandanangal sakhave...
for again proving "The People United Shall Always Be Victorious".