Jammu and Kashmir's college students reeling under limited internet, Covid-19 shutdown

A student at the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, who asked not to be named, said that videos on the most popular study website for students – YouTube – are streaming at only 240-pixel resolution, making it impossible for students to re...

Students in Jammu and Kashmir are reeling under a double whammy of slower internet speeds and the ongoing 21-day nationwide shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Educational institutions, which are trying to help out students in various ways, are finding that their options are limited due to the same problems.

A student at the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, who asked not to be named, said that videos on the most popular study website for students – YouTube – are streaming at only 240-pixel resolution, making it impossible for students to read the text in the videos.


Adding to their woes, text books are hard to come by as they do not fall under ‘essential commodities’.

“Those who managed to get books from library – they’re fine. But nobody expected a shutdown,” he says.

Final-year students are the worst affected.
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Their projects, seminars, placements and applications to universities for higher studies have all ground to a halt.

Kowsar Majid, dean - academic affairs at NIT Srinagar, said the college was trying its best to help out students, but faculty members living outside campus and students were at a disadvantage due to low internet speeds.

“For research students, special Virtual Private Network arrangements are being provided… to link with the official sites of journals and books,” he said.

However, this has been hamstrung by limited bandwidth.
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Broadband speeds, too, are restricted in many areas. Moreover, there are only limited slots for new broadband connections given out periodically, said the student.

After the abrogation of Article 370 that gave the previously undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir special status, there was an extensive communications blockade. Messaging and call services were restored only in October, while limited 2G internet was restored in January.
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Another fourth-year student at NIT Srinagar told ET that he was concerned about not being able to appear for an interview with a foreign university over video calling app Skype. His classmates who were hoping to get placed in this semester have dashed hopes.

About 50 students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jammu have stayed back on campus as they could not travel back to homes in remote locations in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, said IIT Jammu director Manoj Singh Gaur.

He said the college had started online classes this month and would make weekly assessments to iron out problems. “We have a cushion in the summer vacation (to complete the portions) … summer vacation will likely be curtailed,” he said.
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