Unseasonal rain shatters dreams, farmers' kids struggle to pay for courses at Mumbai University

Updated: Nov 09, 2019, 07:45 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Most of the students, who depend primarily on their families' earnings to pay the fees, have started to look for part-time jobs to be able to continue studying.

Unseasonal rain has destroyed most of the crop in Maharashtra. Pic/ PTI
Unseasonal rain has destroyed most of the crop in Maharashtra. Pic/ PTI

The unseasonal rain has not only pushed farmers in the state into depression but their children, too, are struggling to pay for courses they are pursuing at Mumbai University. Most of the students, who depend primarily on their families' earnings to pay the fees, have started to look for part-time jobs to be able to continue studying.

Fee crisis

Son of a Beed farmer, Abhiman Unawne, 24, who is a first-year student of Folk Theatre, has no clue how he will pay his remaining fees and continue staying in the city. His family back home is struggling to cope with the crop loss because of the rain. "Other than our own land, we have also taken a couple of acres on rent to grow cotton. This helps us earn more. We had grown cotton on a 5-acre plot but the rain has damaged everything. My family is already in debt," said Abhiman. Even as several students, who come from farming backgrounds, are facing a major crisis, student unions have demanded that either the university waive off their fees or give them some time to pay.

Arun Jogdand, 26, who lost his father a couple of years back, said, "I chose to come to Mumbai because this is the right place to pursue a career in performing arts. My family was confident of being able to support me with whatever they earn from farming. This is my first year and the situation is already tough. My mother and brothers have started to do daily wage jobs as rain has destroyed our farmland." Arun, too, has started looking for a part-time job as his course fee is R18,000 a year and he still has to complete another year. Other than course fees, he pays R9,600 for hostel and R3,000 as mess charges.

Going gets tough

"I need money to survive in Mumbai, which my family used to provide. They used to give me R4,000 a month. But the situation is such that they have not been able to send me anything for the past month," said Santosh Paithane, who hails from a small village Shanjan near Beed district. The family of five has a two-acre farm on which they grow cotton. "Financially, our situation has never been good, so we also run a general store to support ourselves. Now the entire family is dependent on the store as excess rain has damaged the cotton. I have paid this year's fees but it's just the first one. I don't know what will happen," he added.

Arun JogdandArun Jogdand, student of Folk Theatre, MU

A student of Masters in Political Science, Raghvendra Kamble, who hails from Manwad village in Kolhapur district, said he was fortunate that it was his last year in the varsity.

"I had paid this year's fees at the beginning, but I am preparing for the MPSC exam and plan to continue studying in the city. But I cannot ask for money from my family. Whatever they had grown has been destroyed. Every year they take loan for certain things related to farming and then pay it off after selling what they grow. But this time they are already struggling to repay."

No celebrations

Mahesh Dabholkar, another student of MA in Political Science, who hails from Sindhudurga, did not go home for Diwali as he decided to stay back and save money. "Travelling home is a huge expense. So I decided to stay back. The money saved will help me survive a couple of days more. I am looking for a part-time job," Mahesh who hails from a family of farmers, said, "They have nothing left on the fields to work on, so there is no way they can support me."

AbhmanAbhiman Unawne, student of Folk Theatre, MU

While student union Chatrabharati has submitted a letter of request to MU vice- chancellor, Yuva Sena has put forward a request to the Governor of Maharashtra to either provide relaxation of fees to the students or give them a waiver. "After the senate meeting, the varsity has decided to just relax the examination fee process for the affected students. But that is not enough," said Rohit Dhale, president of Chatrabharati.

When contacted, university registrar, Ajay Deshmukh said, "We have already exempted the affected students from paying the examination fee for the coming season. However, no decision has been taken on waiving off other fees or giving an extension."

Rs 4K
Money one boy said his family sends him for an entire month

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