JNU’s campus exploded with protests earlier this week when the administration decided to raise the monthly hostel fee from Rs. 10 to Rs. 300. The fee hadn’t been changed in 19 years, and given how the Indian taxpayer contributes Rs. 300 crore per year towards JNU, it was thought that the fee hike would help JNU be more self-sufficient. But JNU’s students were having none of it — their protests spilled over to Delhi, where they clashed with police, harassed women journalists, and caused for several metro stations to be shut down.
All this while, the rest of India had only one question: if these people can’t afford Rs. 300 as hostel fees, why don’t they work part-time to support themselves?
As the JNU protests spread, ordinary Indians began sharing stories of how they’d worked part-time to support their education. Someone shared an experience of how their 19-year-old daughter worked as a teaching assistant to partially pay her hostel fee.
Some else said that they ran a newspaper agency when they were studying.
Someone else said that they worked in a call center in their second and third years of engineering to help make ends meet.
A man who’d lost his father during his graduation said that he worked part time to pay for his education.
Someone narrated a story of how they’d done technical writing on the side during their engineering to help pay the bills.
And then there were people who didn’t depend on outside help at all — they paid for their own education.
People even shared heart-warming tales — someone shared a story of how they’d lost both their parents, but took tuitions to complete their Bachelor’s and Master’s with their own earnings.
And the stories just kept coming. People had worked as CA apprentices, dance teachers, drummers, tutors, journalism interns, kirana store attendants, just to be able to pay their way through college.
All of this, however, remains completely lost on JNU students, who don’t only feel that the government owes them an education, but are also willing carry out violent protests when the fee is raised from Rs. 10 to Rs. 300. JNU’s protests are being met with a angry backlash from ordinary Indians at the moment, and for good reason — nobody like petulant 30-year-olds studying sociology who’re constantly begging for handouts.