Cashing in on Student Distress, Congress Promises Funds and Reservations in Its Manifesto
To placate students’ woes and influence this important voter chunk, Congress’ manifesto has promised to increase the amount earmarked for grants to colleges and universities.
File photo of Rahul Gandhi.(Image: Reuters)
New Delhi: The Congress manifesto has taken into account the issues that kept the universities on the boil since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led BJP swept to power in 2014.
The grand old party’s manifesto promises autonomy, funds, reservations and student rights to woo the young voters, and assures students’ rights through a bill.
In 2016, students across the country agitated against UGC for scrapping the Non NET Fellowships for the M.phil / Phd students. There were demonstrations at the ministry of human resource development and UGC premises. The student bodies raised questions against fund cuts, and alleged privatization and commercialisation of education.
To placate students’ distress and influence this important voter chunk, Congress’ manifesto has promised to increase the amount earmarked for grants to colleges and universities. “College and university education must be funded in multiple ways,” the manifesto said.
The manifesto also promises to ensure the regulation, grading and funding of colleges and universities will be done by separate organizations. “We will provide the University Grants Commission or its successor with sufficient funds to make liberal grants to colleges and universities, based on need and merit,” the manifesto said.
The manifesto observes that India needs more universities. “Congress promises to establish more public universities in the country, especially in under-served areas. We promise to restore the autonomy of colleges and universities,” the manifesto said on this issue.
Through the manifesto, the party aims to revive, redesign and expand the education loan program. For this “Applications will be received, examined and sanctioned on a single portal and then assigned to the branch of a bank located near the applicant’s residence or place of study for documentation and monitoring. No interest will be charged during the period of study and until the student finds a job or earns through self-employment. Outstanding interest dues on old education loans as on 31 March 2019 will be waived,” the manifesto said.
Keeping in view student agitations in universities like JNU, the Congress manifesto stated, “Colleges and universities will be encouraged to award Deprivation Points to students seeking admission based on gender, permanent residence in rural districts, first generation learner, and to admit such students to ensure diversity in the classroom.”
The manifesto also assured, “We promise to restore the 200-point roster system for appointments to central universities and other central institutes of higher learning.”
Students Rights Bill
“Congress will pass a Students Rights Bill to codify the rights and obligations of students in colleges and universities,” said the last proposal of the manifesto.
Possibly to encash on anti-government student sentiments, the Congress has promised students that their democratic rights will be safeguarded.
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