The students of Osmania University, who had supported the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao during the time of bifurcation, have now turned against him as the government has failed to fulfill its promise to provide jobs.
On Sunday, the students held a protest inside the campus, shouting slogans against the government and burning the CM’s effigy.
The members of the Vidhyarthi Nirudhyoga Joint Action Committee (JAC), who also announced that they would gherao the chief minister’s camp office on Monday, started their rally with more than 300 students.
However, before reaching the CM’s office camp, 18 student union leaders were taken into custody by the Osmania University police on Monday noon.
The JAC, however, is undeterred and plans to hold pada yatras across the state.
“KCR has clearly used us during the separation movement. Whenever he asked for support we were always there, we supported the bifurcation. He had also promised to provide 1.5 lakh job notifications for the students, but he has failed to fulfill that promise,” said Manavatha Roy, president of the Osmania University JAC.
Saleem Pasha, a member of the student union, explained: “There are over 1.5 lakh posts vacant in government departments. Only 9000 constable post exams and 1000 group 2 post exams were taken. Even in these, the results are not out yet, and only 3500 students have been employed so far.”
There are are nearly 4,000 junior lecturers working on contract basis in the university. Students have been asking the government to release the Public Service Commission notification for posts, including those of junior lecturers and degree lectures at the college level, but for the past three years, nothing has been done for them, Saleem pointed out.
“The only people who got jobs after bifurcation are KCR and his family, what about us?” he asked.
With no jobs, students claim that their very survival is under threat. They also alleged that the notifications issued by the government are not relevant for them.
“Most of the posts are non-technical posts or multitasking jobs. Those are not useful for us,” said Arun, another union member.
Private Universities Bill
The Telangana government has proposed to introduce the Private Universities Bill soon. The officials have been studying the models adopted by various states.
For instance, the Andhra Pradesh government has allowed eight private universities to function from the state. However, there is no reservation provided to locals in these private universities. But other states have made it compulsory for private universities to reserve 10 to 25 per cent of their seats for local students. The rest of the seats can be allotted to any student as per the choice of the private universities.
The Telangana government has been analysing the models adopted by different states to frame guidelines for the functioning of private universities, without affecting the interest of local students. It has proposed that private universities should provide 25 per cent seats to Telangana students.
However, this hasn’t convinced the students.
The OU students said that the government has neglected state universities and encouraged the privatisation of higher education.
“Telangana government is allowing private universities in a state where 93% of the population belongs to socially and economically backward groups. The government doesn’t want students from rural areas and from marginalised sections to get quality education, as admissions in the private varsities would be beyond their means,” said Prathap Reddy, a member of the Economically Backward Class Student Union.
Student organisations such as Telangana Vidhyarthi Vedika, Progressive Democratic Students’ Union (PDSU), Students Federation of India (SFI), and All India Student Federation, are among those who have strongly objected to the proposal.
Before Telangana became India’s newest state in June 2014, KCR had been promising “free education from KG to PG”.
However, the promise has not seen much progress in three years, with the TRS government deciding to introduced the KG to PG scheme after the existing schools were ‘strengthened and stabilised’.
“Instead of strengthening the state universities, the government is making education a business model by allowing private university. The state-run universities are already in a terrible state. So many departments have shut down because of lack of faculty. The government should introduce new courses, fill in faculty, build infrastructure. We oppose this bill. This will be a loss for all SC, ST, OBC and other backward class students who deserve quality education,” said Ramesh Ninjanna, one of the student leaders who was active during the Telangana movement.
According to a report published by Scroll in December 2016, the All India Survey of Higher Education conducted by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development for the year 2015-16, shows that in Telangana, only about 1 lakh students attended the 145 state government colleges while there were 7.4 lakh students studying in 1,223 private colleges.
However, the private institutions, too, have their share of problems. Low occupancy of seats being the prime reason. The report also points out that the All India Council for Technical Education-approved colleges has gone down, with only just a little over 100 colleges meeting the mark.