This is Jitendra Suna, a student of JNU, completing his PhD in history. Suna comes from an ‘untouchable’ caste from Odisha’s Kalahandi district. 

Indian Express

He has lived in acute poverty all his life and experienced brutality of caste violence. His family is one of landless labourers. Suna has six siblings. 

Odisha TV

In 2009, he worked as a helper with Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) in Delhi, fitting gas pipelines, fixing stoves and digging roads in case of pipe bursts.

Speaking to the Indian Express in September, he had said: 

My mother died when I was in class VIII. I started sowing others’ paddy fields, for which I would get around Rs 30-40 per day. As part of MGNREGA, I also dug roads and ponds, for which I would get Rs 100-150 per day. 

Now, the rent for the single-seater room which had been proposed at Rs 200 per month from Rs 20 might not be a big deal for people like us. I just spent 200 bucks on a cab to office today. 

But for students like him, and there are hundreds like him at JNU, it’s a 10x hike in fees. 

Hindustan Times

Mind you, that is not the only hike these students are protesting against. There is also the case of the one-time refundable mess security fee that has been hiked from Rs 5,500 to Rs 12,000, among other expenses. 

43% of the families of all JNU students earn less than Rs 12,000 a month. They simply cannot pay utility charges of Rs 1,700, something that has been introduced for the first time

A lot of them already take a third or even half of their entire family income just to get by at JNU, to make sure that they have a future, to make sure that their next generation doesn’t get to suffer in the same cycle of poverty and abuse. 

JNU makes sure that students, rich and poor alike get the best education the country has to offer. 

According to the  Unified District Information on School Education (UDISE), the completion rate for secondary school in India was 66.36% – 66.84% for boys and 65.84% for girls in 2016-17. 

Indian Express

That being said, for higher education, India had a gross enrollment ratio of just 26.3% in 2018-19.  For males, the enrollment ratio was 26.3% and for females, it was 26.4%. 

As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), SC students constituted 14.9%, ST students occupied 5.5% and OBC students were 36.3%.

News Karnataka

Now, this is not to say that private education doesn’t or cannot provide opportunities for elite higher education in the country, but like everything private, it is expensive. 

The Constitution of India guarantees a Right to Life and Equality. These are fundamental rights and so is the Right to Equal Opportunity. A good education is necessary for a good quality of life. 

According to Global Wealth Report 2016 compiled by Credit Suisse Research Institute, India is the second most unequal country in the world with the top one percent of the population owning nearly 60 percent of the total wealth.

The Economist

So unless the government subsidises education, it is depriving most people of the right to have equal opportunities. 

And it’s not like the government doesn’t have money. Despite the economy being on a slippery slope, statues worth thousands of crores have been constructed throughout the country, with the taxpayers’ money, that everyone has been yapping about. 


If you ask the public, how they would like to have their tax money spent (on statues or on subsidised education), I’m sure you’ll get your answer. 

Education is the oxygen that a society needs to breathe in, in order to survive. It was always supposed to be a right. So when did it exactly become a privilege?