India: Protest against private university bill 

Neoliberal assaults on public education in India have intensified in recent years, leading to a surge in private education institutions and a gradual decline in public institutions. Consequently, capitalist interests of the owners of these private institutions now exert influence over education policies. This influence is once again highlighted by a new bill related to self-financing private universities, passed during the winter session of the Maharashtra legislative assembly in December 2023.

Under this bill, students enrolling in private universities would no longer be eligible to claim scholarships from the State government. This compels them to pursue their education only if they can afford to pay the full fees. It is crucial to note that these private universities already impose exorbitant fees, making them unaffordable even for students from middle-class families. As a result, this bill effectively prevents the enrolment of students from the vast majority of working-class families.

Against this backdrop, our student wing, the New Students and Youth Federation (NSYF), in collaboration with Satyashodhak Bahujan Vidyarthi Aaghadi (another student organization), organized a protest against the bill. The event drew attendance from activists and students across various colleges in the city. Participants expressed their opposition to the bill by symbolically burning copies, denouncing its malicious motives.

During her speech, Shravni Buwa, co-organizer of NSYF, highlighted how the bill exacerbates social inequalities, excluding Dalit and tribal students from the realm of education. Sachin Bagade, State president of Satyashodhak Bahujan Aghadi, elucidated on the severe implications of such legislation and called for the repeal of the law. Activists like Alkesh, Pratham, Aakash, and others present at the protest raised slogans, asserting their right to reclaim education.

To conclude the protest, representatives of the organizations met with the District Collector, presenting a letter of demands urging the repeal of the law immediatelty

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