asuraPages from History – This month marks thirty eight years since the historic takeover and occupation of the University of Mumbai (then Bombay). In today’s times of student protest and upheaval, it seemed appropriate to share a participant’s account of that action.

Journey to this issue…. These days GOI students are very “popular”. The Free Babies. The Sarkari Damads. The Trouble Makers. All concerned people and authorities are talking of them, for them, to them. In these pages we hear the dialogues and monologues of and with the GOI students.
By the very use of the term GOI scholarship we have misunderstood, it is a form of maintenance allowance, not a scholarship. This support system is not a favour but a responsibility of the state.

The recent demands for reservation in education and employment by Marathas in Maharashtra, Jats in Haryana and such other landed groups is not emerging from lack representation or lack of opportunity. They are present and dominate every sphere of life.
There is big chunk of people who can’t afford education in the liberalised word. Dalits, Adivasi and OBCs are getting some little support because of maintenance allowance. They also want such support. It is a response to the absence of the state. So there is no need to give such dominant group reservation but state should fulfill its responsibility of free education. Equal opportunity and representation are linked with idea of Reservation. But looking at ‘GOI scholarship’ as a part of reservation is again making a mistake.
Very minimum and arbitrary way state decides this ‘support’. There is no regular revision of maintenance allowance. Maintenance allowance /scholarships should be linked to inflation index was main demand of Dalit yuvak aghadi, Yuvak kranti Dal and they fought for that demand for a decade. In 1982 was last time they took morcha of 10,000 students and after that, the demand of linking scholarship to inflation index has vanished. Allowances are so less that most of the GOI students are forced to work. Many students have to discontinue their education, even though they get admission thorough reservation.
There is a rapid withdrawal of the state and its “support”(which is already very minimal), campuses are being cleansed off. In TISS starting from the changes being made in the admission process (online exam, changing nature of questions etc.), the institute’s withdrawal from facilitating of maintenance allowance from the state government, (they have not even bothered to upload the list of courses of this premium institute in the government website!), shift from SC/ST/OBC/minorities cell to “social protection office” and its constant harassment, the clever fee hikes etc. In our neighboring equally premium institute of population sciences also saw a horrendous hike in the fees while the scholarship offered to the students remains the same.
We start with a story of Milind college students in 2000s and end with a story of Milind college student in 1970s. (This is starting point of our reflection on institutions, their histories and their struggles and how these spaces have changed over a period of time.) Reservations may guarantee disadvantaged people representation, maintenance allowance is the guaranteed assurance that it will come into actualization. We had just started knocking the doors… and now they are closing all the door even before we can enter!

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