I came to Mumbai to join St. Xavier’s with soaring hopes but the hostel facilities and it’s stringent procedures left me weary and drained. It was much more difficult securing a place for myself in a hostel than securing my admission in one of the finest college of India.”
-Anuja Joy, a first year arts student at St. Xavier’s.
Mumbai is a cornucopia of glitz, glamour, luxury and extravaganza as much as it is a profusion of bedraggled, yellowing, almost dilapidated buildings and its associated struggle and poverty. It is, without doubt, a city of contradictions where on the one hand there is The Taj, standing tall in its grandeur and opulence, exuding the upmarket, high-society culture of South Mumbai whereas on the other hand, you come across scores of chawls characteristic of the working class crowd of Mumbai just a few kilometres off The Taj and the other sky-grazing, towering buildings. This itself can implicitly speak volumes about the life in Mumbai which takes us to the topic under scrutiny: how it must be for an outstation student in Mumbai to find reasonable places of stay for a comfortable student life.
An Analysis of the Situation
South Mumbai boasts a plethora of some of the best colleges in India like St. Xavier’s College, Sophia College, H.R. College, Wilson College, K.C. College, and many others. Only a paltry number of these offer hostel or in-house stay for the outstation students pouring in year after year. In most of these colleges too, there are certain loopholes lurking behind this “hostel facility” facade. St Xavier’s College offers hostel facility for boys alone and that too for the first and third year students only with the number of seats available hovering approximately around a meagre 60 out of the profusion of students throttling in for their UG courses. Unrealistic mark cut offs for admission into these hostels exacerbate the issue. In Sophia College too, there are just 100-150 seats available for students wherein the exorbitant expectation for marks are accompanied by interviews. None of the other colleges even provide hostel facility to all those eager, expectant outstation students. This is mainly because Mumbai has a dearth of what one can call prim, proper, abundant spaces for colleges in the first place, leave alone in- built hostels.
“A comfortable place of stay in this city is next to impossible without connections. I have often wondered how things would have been different had I been an NRI or a Jain or a Christian or at least with some political connections”, says Tanya Chatteja , a second year student from Sophia College.
The Case of Existing Hostels
Coming to the existing hostels and PG facility for students in Mumbai, it has achieved a status of ludicrousness amongst the students precisely because of the inextricable set of stringent, exhorting rules that it demands.
- There are Savitri Devi and Telang hostels for female students but these come with abhorrent sets of specifications because they cater to people from financially poor backgrounds setting the limits at less than a lakh per annum. However, there are loopholes for all those students whose families can manage contacts from the political sphere or any sphere that boasts power and connections. Apart from these, they involve interviews, guardians, paperwork and all the other such eccentric conditions.
- Regina Pacis mainly focuses its attention on Christian students and those fortunate ones to get recommendations from the principals of various colleges. Other students are also taken in but the number of seats available is again very less.
- Others include Nirmala Niketan and YWCA which again focus on working women with only a small percentage of its seats accruing to students with those coveted connections and in some cases NRI students too.
- There are other hostels spread intermittently across Mumbai’s suburbs which are geographically very far from those top notch colleges in the city area unless one is ready to spend time travelling in the local trains which is bound to be a nerve racking experience for those students new to the city.
- Hostels like the Missionary Settlement For University Women, take in girl students who have got female local guardians, preferably married and living in Mumbai. They expect these female guardians to turn up at the beginning of every year of your UG or PG course for the recurring admission interviews and procedures spread across all the years of your degree.
“Every year the local guardians turn up distraught and grumbling, putting their other responsibilities on hold for the sake of the interviews and other attestation and signing procedures for which you are even allotted tokens for your turns.”
-A third year student staying at the Missionary Settlement For University Women hostel.
Another irksome, peculiar factor associated with these hostels and PG facilities are that they are too exorbitantly priced. PGs in the city area with reasonable facilities start at above 15k a month and that they are mostly restrained to a single room facility .The afore mentioned hostels are also priced at exorbitant rates considering the kind of facilities and food they provide. The reasonable ones are weighed down by the specifications for the financially poor, Christians, Jains, NRI’s, the ones with contacts and other such categories leaving a vast majority with a dearth of options. As for renting out flats, there is a trend of over four to six students cramping up and living in miniscule, studio apartments paying almost 30k a month together in places like Marine Lines, Churchgate and Colaba.
Though a city of dreams, Mumbai still has to do a lot to provide better accommodation facilities for students.