Wednesday 6 November 2013

A Daring Letter to the Principal of Sri venkateswara College, University of Delhi


The Principal

Sri Venkateswara

Benito Juarez Marg

Dhaula Kuan

Sub: Student accommodation and students’ rights

Dear ma’am

With all due respect, I am writing to inform you about the ordeals and the tribulations faced by the students of your college on various grounds right from administrational autonomy and rude behavior of office bearers to lack of even the most basic amenities needed the most by students like ample campus housing, lack of proper drinking water and excessive use of force and guards on student campus and not only will I point out the problems but I will also guide you to the solutions to these problems. Moreover, I would also point to you the consequences should you choose not to heed to my peacefully put solutions for a better and more student friendly campus. In the end, after having created a viable and substantial argument from the perspective of a common student, I would then give your good-self an ultimatum to heed to our demands which would be firm, resolute and absolute. I hope that by the time you reach the end of the letter, you would be so convinced with our issues and agenda that you would be sympathetic to us and give us the proper treatment we so deserve as students of Sri Venkateswara and students of Delhi University.

I would start by pointing to the autocratic nature of the college administration and the hierarchal setup the office bearers who misuse their power for all but students’ welfare and leave no transparency in the working of various aspects of college to students even on their demands. First of all, the counter system of the office is in itself flawed in many ways. The counter system puts pressure on students as students wait in long queues for even the most common work like verification of bus pass forms had the administration not acted so prejudiced and arrogant. We are students, not a bunch of lepers whom you don’t even let inside your office. This is a malpractice that you must eradicate or else the student activists will eradicate it for you. There should at least such amount of official forum between students and administration where a certain level of personal contact or even an emotional one can be possible.

Further, it has also come to notice to certain student activists that a child with disabilities was mistreated by the ICT lab authorities when he went there to avail the username and password for college Wi-Fi. I take it you are well aware that the college internet connectivity is more mine than yours and in fact the whole college is more mine than yours, me being the whole student community here. It is for shame that the college authorities don’t understand this and resort to such fascist sentiments. It has come to notice to certain activists that even though the officials were free and were just lounging around in their ICT office, they said they were busy and the student couldn’t make it out as he was blind. In a way, the officials made a joke on his blindness which is completely unacceptable in a college where there is an active and working Equal Opportunity Cell. This is a direct violation of students’ rights and therefore the administration is liable to action. This is the kind of dictatorial regime the college apparatus of Sri Venkateswara has become and somewhere the student population is to be blamed for all this because we remained silent and let the forces that be take over us our rights, our freedom and our space.

Let me enlighten you with some words about the student population. You might think that ‘student power’ or student mobilization’ are words people use in a speech to make it more rhetorical and fiery. A student is the loneliest person in the world. Students who come from small states or different states will tell you the difficulties of being a student. They are the most miserable, downtrodden and ignored sect of our society, especially here at Delhi University, and more so at Sri Venkateswara. A student from a small city has to cope with many problems than just the course work and the studies in the college and he cannot be called a ‘student’ anymore. When the University ceases to take responsibility of students’ housing and accommodation, food and travel, books and other services, it throws the student into a web of darkness and myriad problems. This is unfair for the student as he is only a student, and he is only supposed to be that way. He is not supposed to be caught in the finance troubles of juggling rent of paying guest accommodation, three-course meal and cost of buying the semester books. As you might know, the University has implemented the Four Year Undergraduate Program Under which there would be four years of undergraduate courses, and under which there was an over-admission of students in almost every course. But the hostel facilities were granted to only one or two students per course. The College authority cannot hide behind the reason of ‘not having enough funds’ because Sri Vekateswara receives bi-annual funding from both Andhra-based TTD committee and Delhi University (Central Govt.). Please understand the compulsion which enabled us to do such extensive research and to go to such extent for our rights. Please try to grasp the fact that we students are humans too, we are a minority too, but there is no Party, no committee, no pressure group for fighting and protecting our rights so we fight our own battles and we take arms to protect our own rights. We take the path of protests and break the barricades of the fascist setup that enslaves us. But we do not do it for our pleasure. We do it just because of the situation you arise, your authority arises and your administration arises. You violate our rights and you expect us to be quiet and then you impose yourself on us even when we are silent.

A great example of your dictatorial stance is the daily appointment of a uniformed guard at the College gate. Let me enlighten you as you may not know properly because your house falls inside the college camps but the guard standing at the gate is dressed in Khaki and enjoys the power that comes with it. I remind you again that the college is a student space and not an LOC border or a terrorist liberated zone where you set up uniformed men. I urge you to stop turning the college campus into a police cantonment.

Actions like these could have been taken silently by students in the past but we have suffered too much now to remain silent. I myself have been at the helm of the ordeals that have cast me now to the path of student activism and fighting for students’ rights. I come from the small town of Andaman and Nicobar and I came to study English literature with aspirations of greatness and ambition but the beasts of real life and the hounds of struggling in a big city gnawed and teethed on my intellectual soul. I was thrown out of my paying guest accommodation because I was contesting for the Delhi University Students’ Union Elections. Consequently, I had to pay a month’s rent for the room in which I stayed for just two days and then I had to pay the full rent, plus the advance and the security deposit for a new room. I was broken, disheartened and totally financially bankrupt. It took me some time to get out of the depression state which I was in.

 Then hidden among the jungles, I find a place of escape, the opium of intellectual mind, Jawaharlal Nehru University and I get more and more engrossed in the campus lifestyle, the witty debates and discussions and the laid out overall environment of a University Campus whose semester fee is just about 200 rupees and the hostel fee is 20 rupees a month and every potential student is given a hostel. Then I analyzed the reason for the establishment of such an idealistic society and this was where I found out about the history of student activism at JNU. The students of JNU are more than aware of their rights and not only are they aware but they are also willing to readily fight whenever their rights are violated. And they don’t stop there. The students there also fight for issues that affect the society in which they live like gender sensitization, minority witch-hunt, fake encounters, peasant revolution and corruption. They have always been at the forefront of activism be it their issues or not, and so they reaped the benefits of their labor.

They have set the example for the next generation of students, us, which you being the educator, the system, could not and they have inspired us to fight for our rights because we have right on our side. They taught us that there is nothing wrong in questioning you vocally, and if need be physically because you are employed because of us and in a way we are your employers. We are the ones whom you should provide the finest service that you never do, not in terms of academic education, or self conduct or basic civil necessities. Let me ask you why there is over a dozen blocks of staff housing when there is not enough housing for students. At least the staff gets a regular salary with which it can afford a lavish house and on the other hand, a student has to spend thousands in college fees, not counting the thousands more on accommodation. This is totally unfair and is a slander of basic students’ rights. Teachers are supposed to be the example for students and here the teachers themselves are money-minded and selfish and the worst part of it is that they are money minded and selfish at the cost of the students.

But now the students are organizing, they are mobilizing. They will not tolerate the lack of housing for their fellow comrades. They will not tolerate the autonomy of college administration and complete opacity in their working. They will not tolerate being shouted at or ignored over by the college staff. They will not tolerate cheap drinking water that is too old to drink just because the maintenance staff is unable to keep a proper water purifier and stabilizing cooler at every floor. They will not tolerate the fascist hierarchy that has been prevailing for long in the college. They will not tolerate the deterioration of any and every student right that is entitled to them, to us, as a part of the Venkateswara student community, as a part of the Delhi University student community.
I have been very respectably and cordially giving you the problems faced by the student community and the solutions that you can opt for that would work towards a mutual benefit but now I must levy upon you the charges, the sentence, the accusation and the ultimatum that we as students, the heartbeat of the education system, the youth and immediate future of the country, and your indirect employers have decided. We would occupy the college ground with every bit of luggage we brought with us as a student because it is the college’s and the University’s combined responsibility to take care of our housing and our belongings which are supposed to be in a college hostel rather than an expensive but worthless paying guest accommodation. We will not vacate the college premises as long as we are not transferred to a college-controlled permanent housing for which we are willing to pay too. This is not just a movement for student accommodation but for every student right that has been incessantly broken down and violated by the whims and fancies of the college authorities. The occupy movement will be convened at an unspecific time if in three days there isn’t a valid assurance for your side. I hope you heed the gravity of the situation, the serious tone of this letter and of the moment and the prime importance of time which you should follow through in your correspondence. This is propaganda of the deed. The whole student community of the college is expected to be a part of this. We have nothing to lose but the chains that enslave us. We have a world to win.

Hoping for a favorable reply from your end.

Yours sincerely


Mobile no: 96503438756

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