Sunand
This year’s union budget has been presented in the backdrop of intensified economic crisis due to the disastrous demonetization, which was nothing but a ploy to increase the liquidity in the banks that were on the brink of collapse due to the massively piled NPAs by the big businesses. The economic survey as well the budget speech was an exercise in self-deception, which was not ready to come to terms with this concrete reality.
However, if we assess the budget from the perspective of the students and the education, then it becomes clear that it is not a priority area for the government. The superficiality of allocation under various heads gives way to sheer neglect when a closer examination is made. The speech had nothing on funds for schemes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (for universal elementary education) or the mid-day meal scheme, which despite the problems in their implementation are crucial in our efforts to fully utilize the demographic dividend. There was no word on pre-primary or secondary education or training of teachers either. Neither the UPA, nor the NDA has made any preparations to handle the increase in enrollment in secondary schools due to the growth in the number of students after the Right to Education Act, 2009 was implemented. The neglect is seen in the nominal increase in the allocations made to the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan (RMSA). In fact, SSA, RSMA and Rashtriya Uchhtar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) were presented by our policy planners as three interlinked schemes which will work to make our education system more inclusive and help create trained labour force to increase the competiveness in the global knowledge economy. However, the actual outcomes & approach goes completely against the lofty goals.
Institution/HeadAllocation in 2016-17 ( in crores)Allocation in 2017-18 ( in crores)
UGC44914691
Central Universities63556485
IISERs780650
IITs49537171
IGNOU101100
For New IITs190350
RUSA13001300
Total Grant of IITs53887856
Total Grant of IIMs8571030
Total Grant of NITs28743440
Total Grant of NIITs228379
Assistance to states for implementation of 7th CPC recommendations1400700
SERB (Scientific and Engineering Research Board)767800
TIFR643644
(All figures based on data from indiabudget.nic.in)
Neglect of non-professional courses
As the figures cited above suggests, this year’s budget has been marred by the apathy towards the non-professional courses, which has been a continuing trend by successive governments ever since the market conservatism was pushed in education following the National Policy on Education (NPE) of 1986. Even though the budget speech talks about emphasis on the ‘pure sciences’, the actual figures tell something else. In our country, the allocations for scientific and applied research are made through Department of Science and Technology (DS&T) and Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), apartment from the allocations made under the MHRD.  If we see the allocations figures and take the inflation & the increased burden of 18-20% due to the salary increase (owing to 7th CPC recommendations), then the increases would turn out to be insignificant. Further, there is an extra focus on the ‘centers of excellence’ like IITs, IIMs, NITs and NIITs, which in essence means that the vast majority of institutions even within the professional sector will have to strive for funds.
However, the more problematic aspect is the allocations made to the UGC, central universities and RUSA. The figures point towards stagnation in real terms and will have serious repercussions for our colleges and universities which are already under big shortage of faculty as well as the infrastructure. The centrally sponsored scheme, RUSA, launched in 2013 aims at providing strategic funding to eligible state higher educational institutions. RUSA, which was introduced by the Congress-led UPA-II government and has been carried further by the BJP-led NDA government, replaces the pre-existing multiple funding mechanisms with one centralised mechanism. The funding then is linked to a set of conditions failing which the institutions/states will not be eligible to receive funds. These conditions include implementation of Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), semesterization and compulsory accreditation among others. In fact, north eastern states and the hill states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were the first ones to agree to these compilations. The impact of these unplanned moves is already being seen in the form of complete withering away of the academic structure. Now, in such a situation the stagnation of funds will lead to more drastic impact on the higher education in these states.
This performance-based approach to funding will actually widen the existing gulf. RUSA has provision to divert funds to even such institutions, which do not fall under section 12B and 2(f) of the UGC Act. This translates into the provision of diverting the public money (tax collected from the working class and other toiling sections) to fund the private institutions, which are anyways free to charge exorbitant fees.
Autonomy leading to widened inequality
Finance minister talks about reforming UGC and then providing financial autonomy to the college and universities based on the ranking as per the mandatory accreditation. In fact, this whole concept of ‘autonomy’ is contradictory in itself, since this very government forced the universities to implement the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) 2 years back. Hence, while the academic autonomy has been snatched away, this whole talk of financial autonomy is nothing but a ploy to push the neoliberal agenda in education. This is in tune with the neoliberal push that we have been witnessing since the period of congress-led UPA-1. It will only lead to increasing the already existing wide gap in the various sectors of education. Finance Minister in his speech also talked about linking funding to ‘output-based accreditation and credit based programmes’, which implies the more state universities are going to be put under the ambit of credit based courses.
Deskilling in the name of ‘Skill Education’
‘Skill Education’ is the only area which got emphasis in the finance minister’s speech.  He proposed to launch a Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion Programme for “market relevant training” to 3.5-crore youth. Rs 4,000 crores have been allocated to it. Another Rs 2,200 crores has been allocated to the Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement for 2017-’18 for improving the quality of vocational training in Industrial Training Institutes and to “strengthen the apprenticeship programmes.”
This thrust towards ‘Skill Education needs to be seen in the historical trajectory of the evolution of the dual education system in our country. The National Policy of Education (NPE 86-92) was instrumental in not only accelerating the privatization of education but also putting in place a dual system of education. It introduced non-formal education (NFE), as a low-cost alternative to be treated as ‘equivalent to schooling’ for the working poor, the marginalised and children in “difficult circumstances”. When the Supreme Court in its 1993 judgement (Unnikrishnan vs the State of Andhra Pradesh) stated that the constitutional Directive Principle 45 should be read in conjunction with Article 21, it established that the right to education flowed from the fundamental right to life thereby converting “the obligation created by the article (45) into an enforceable right”. This required the 86th Constitutional Amendment in 2002, which was tailor-made to coincide with neo-liberal dictates to reduce public spending on education. Two significant limitations to the “enforceable right” restricted it to children between 6 to 14 years of age and provided for education only “as the State may, by law, determine”. The limitations allowed a retreat from the original constitutional responsibility and denied millions of children access to quality education.
The present regime’s proposed National Policy of Education 2016 (NPE 2016) promises to accelerate this process. Amendments to the already flawed RTE 2009 will allow for ‘alternate’ schools which do not ‘require’ the basic infrastructural and pedagogical norms laid down in the Act, limit the no-detention policy to lower primary (class V) and vocationalise the elementary curriculum in targeted areas. Dove-tailed into the Skill Development Programme and the amended child labour law which now permits under14 year-olds to work in ‘family enterprises’, this ‘education’ policy will reinforce caste distinctions and ensure that the majority of India’s children from oppressed and marginalised sections will be condemned to a childhood of labour.
Finance minister also repeated last year’s promise to focus on learning outcomes – class and subject-wise minimum standards of learning children are expected to achieve in school.” However, what is being forgotten is that mere improvement in the ‘devises to measure teaching outcomes’ won’t serve any purpose when the fundamental question of infrastructural crisis in our primary and secondary education is not answered. The moot point remains is the government serious in answering this question? The resolution of this conundrum lies in a massive increase in the public expenditure, while successive governments continue to give the false argument of fund crunch.
Let us give some figures at this juncture. While the fiscal deficit for the financial year 2016-17 was 3.2% of GDP, in the same year the tax forgone was a massive 3.18 lakh crore that is equal to 2.1% of the GDP. The social sector spending including that on education can be increased by reducing the concessions to the corporates and big businesses. The fact that government hasn’t done so is only a pointer of its priorities.
 
 
Dr. V Sivadasan 
SIKAR, a city whose art, architecture and culture bear the mark of a rich history of confluence and diversity, will host the 15th All India Conference of SFI from January 22 to 25. The rich legacy of spirited peasant agitations makes the choice of the city even more appropriate, as in a historic first, the All India Conference of SFI is taking place in the Northwest India. The conference is taking place at a time when the whole nation is witnessing an assault on the very idea of India as a secular and democratic republic. The air is vitiated by the attempts to spread hatred among the people with the aim to consolidate public support for the anti-people, neo-liberal socio-economic policies, by putting the real issues that affect the life of the people into oblivion.
The ruling elites are trying to advance their agenda of assisting the aggrandizement initiatives of the corporate class. Every single policy initiative undertaken by the present regime is designed to achieve this. It is the historic duty of Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Left and democratic forces to fight till the very end such anti-people measures. The strength and courage to stand up and fight such draconian forces emerge from the rich legacy of struggles which SFI has fought throughout the years of its existence. The past four years since the last All India Conference have seen a spate of arduous yet successful struggles fought over various issues that affect the life of the Indian student community.
As many as 46 comrades are in jail and more than a hundred are hospitalised. In Sikar, the workers of SFI are facing brutal attacks from RSS hooligans and the state administration. They are trying to disturb the conference. The hoardings and banners of the conference were destroyed. Leaders including the state committee members of SFI were attacked. Subash Jakar, the secretary of SFI Sikar district committee, was grievously injured and he was arrested from the hospital on false charges! But the student community in Rajasthan is fighting against them upholding the white flag and revolutionary ideas.
The memory of the brave comrades who sacrificed their lives for the cause of the student movement should inspire us to move ahead, braving all obstacles. In these four years, several comrades laid down their lives fighting for the student movement. Comrade Rohit, Saifuddin Mollah, Sajin Shahul, Comrade Faziland and Ajeet Sing Beniwal made the supreme sacrifice in the struggles, holding aloft the banner of SFI. Comrade Sudipta Gupta, a member of SFI West Bengal State Committee, was killed in a brutal police attack, while leading a ‘law-breaking’ programme to protest the draconian decision of the Trinamool Congress government banning all students’ union elections in the state.
In the state of Himachal Pradesh, the student community under the leadership of SFI has launched a historic struggle, demanding increased budgetary allocation, roll back of fee hike, students’ union elections and roll back of the disastrous measures like Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) and Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). Fifty-four students were injured in the brutal police lathicharge, while the entire leadership was put behind the bars. Policemen in plain clothes attacked the state office of SFI, ransacked the office and arrested all those who were present there, including a 65-year-old man. Al those who were arrested had to go through brutal physical torture inside the police station. But the attempts to suppress the movement were fought back with the solidarity and support of the student activists from all over the country. Campuses across India protested against the attempt to oppress the voice of the students in Himachal Pradesh.
Pondicherry University was witness to a heroic struggle fought by the comrades for a gender sensitive and democratic campus. The movement started with the refusal of our brave activists not to succumb to the undemocratic practice of ragging and subsequent harassing following the refusal on the campus. When they approached the authorities with a complaint, instead of assisting them to fight such regressive tendencies, the university administration tried to cover up the whole issue. In the course of the struggle, the students who fought the administration were suspended and they had to take the matter to court. In a historic judgement, the judiciary granted a judgement in favour of the victimised students and this marked a successful turning point in the course of the struggle. The agitation in Pondicherry University was the one that reasserted the right of the students to have a gender sensitive and democratic campus.
The SFI Maharashtra State Committee led a month-long protest of students in Industrial Technical Institutes (ITIs) with the main demand to scrap the negative marking system which was newly introduced leading to thousands of students failing in their examinations. More than 25,000 students successfully participated in these SFI-led protests in 20 districts of Maharashtra. It must be remembered that ITI students form part of the future working class of our country. The stir culminated on December 30, 2014 – which is also the Foundation Day of the SFI – with an impressive state-wide demonstration of over 3,000 ITI students in Mumbai and fruitful discussions with the state’s technical education minister. The main demands of this stir were the scrapping of the negative marking system, increase in the paltry stipend of Rs 40 per month, question papers in the mother tongue, hostels for every ITI, filling vacant posts of teachers and employees, and provision of all necessary infrastructures in all the institutes. The struggle forced the government to rethink about the negative marking system. The Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGE&T) had to issue a circular where it had finally agreed to give the question papers in the mother tongue from August, 2015. The struggle had given an added momentum to the student movement of Maharashtra.
The comrades of Calicut University fought a valiant struggle which started as a voice of resistance against the vicious attempts by the Congress-led UDF government of Kerala to destroy the democratic atmosphere of universities ever since it came to power in 2011. One of the first initiatives, the government took was to dissolve the democratically elected syndicate and senate in different universities and set up new bodies with the members nominated by Congress and its allies. The vice-chancellor has been playing the role of a lackey of the incumbent UDF government to perfection. Banning protests and demonstrations in the university, introducing punching system for research scholars who will have to go for field work and other research purposes out of the campus, stopping the scholarship money from being distributed, cutting down a huge number of trees on the campus and damaging the rich ecological diversity, selling the university land to private authorities were some of the regressive moves which evoked the protest. The struggle was one of the longest and most arduous ones put up by the students of Kerala.
SFI has taken a proactive role in supporting progressive student movement all over the country. Be it the struggle of the FTII Pune against attempts of saffronisation or the struggle of the students of Madras IIT against the ban on Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, SFI has tried to be part of such struggles strengthening the values of secularism and democracy.
The Indian student community has positively responded to such an effort is evident in the enthusing victories that SFI has achieved in this period. Out of the seven Central Universities where student union elections had taken place, SFI emerged successful in four of them. Central University of Hyderabad, Central University of Kerala, the English and Foreign Languages University and Pondicherry University have elected SFI alliances to lead the student unions.
SFI is marching into the All India Conference, with this enthusing support offered by the student community. The conference is an occasion to discuss and deliberate upon the functioning of the movement in the last four years. It is also an important occasion to chalk out the future action plan. In these days, when neo-liberalism combined with semi-fascism is trying to push the country back into the dark ages, an intense and serious effort should be undertaken by the comrades all across the country to make the All India Conference a huge success. 
Vikram Singh
INDIA is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 54 percent of its total population below 25 years of age. An effective education system with proper balance between the three basic parameters of accessibility, equality and quality is essential for utilisation of this young human resource towards the task of nation building.  
 
Today India has the largest number of youth and adult illiterates in the world with the youth literacy rate (15-24 years) and adult literacy rate (15 years and above) at 86.1 percent and 69.3 percent respectively. India is also known for higher level of gender gap (8.2 percentage points) in youth literacy rate. Youth literacy rates for male and female population is 90 percent and 81.8 per cent respectively.
 
This is the sorry state of the foundations over which the higher education system in our country is based. There is no doubt that we need to strengthen our higher education system. The present government has not done anything in this direction. The only explanation government has is that they are in the process of formulation of new education policy, which will decide the direction of future of education in India including higher education. For last two years, we are listening about the NEP. We are not going into the debate about the process followed by MHRD and their false claims. After two years, there is a draft policy on the website of UGC namely ‘Some Inputs for Draft National Education Policy 2016’ that explains the framework of the future education system of India.
 
 
 
CONTRADICTORY APPROACH
 
TOWARDS ACCESSIBILITY AND EQUITY
 
This draft identifies low gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education as one of the major challenges, which we are facing in India. The enrolment ratio in higher education was 23.6 percent in 2014-15 and it sets a target to increase GER to 25.2 percent in 2017-18 and further to 30 percent in 2020-21. While identifying low GER as major challenge and defining its objective, the draft says, “Reform higher education system in order to ensure equitable access to tertiary education, including technical and professional education, narrow group inequalities in access to higher education.”
 
However, in this same draft, it proposes that government will not open new institutions due to lack of funds. There is a clear contradiction between the objectives of the proposed policy and the methods to achieve these objectives. The draft says, “Instead of setting up new institutions, which require huge investments, priority of the government will be to expand the capacity of existing institutions.” There cannot be any expansion of education and reach of education cannot be expanded without opening new institutions of higher education. This explains the future course of action of this government regarding higher education. This draft policy indicates that in future there will be no new institutions; meaning if GER of 30 percent has to be achieved; it will be done through private education institutions only. It will further privatise Indian higher education system, which is already massively privatised with accounting to 62 percent of the total enrolment.
 
After analysing the above proposal, it becomes clear that the government is not worried about the question of equity in the higher education. Presently in India, there is a gross disparity in GER in higher education with respect to region, social groups and gender. For example in 2011-12, GER in higher education ranged between 8.4 percent in Jharkhand and 53 percent in Chandigarh, which speaks about the regional disparities in GER.
 
Similarly, the variations among the social groups too are considerable. If we analyse overall GER of 23.6 percent for participation of gender and social groups we will find that it is 24.5 percent for boys, 22.7 percent for girls; 18.5 percent for SCs and 13.3 percent for STs in 2014-15. This is one of the major challenges in higher education of India, but the draft policy on higher education fails to address it. Merely raising concerns in the draft will not serve the purpose (as is done in the draft). To overcome this regional and social disparity, we need more new institutions of higher education in areas, which have low GER. Presently we are creating educational hubs around metro cities and state capitals, which are further widening the gap. Most of these institutes are under private sector, which demands huge amount of fees from students. Only those students from well-off families come to these hubs. This is also leading to the migration of students from their home state.
 
To address the educational needs of the socially marginalised sections and to overcome social disparity existing in GER of the society, we need new education institutions in the public sector as there are no provisions of reservation in private institutions. As discussed above due to high fees structure private institutions are hardly of any use for socially backward sections. Present draft does not have any special proposal to overcome these questions of equity in higher education.
 
 
 
PROPOSAL
 
FOR BUDGET
 
It seems a compulsion for every committee and commission to recommend 6 percent of GDP on education as it was proposed by earlier national policies on education of 1968 and 1986/92.  The government cannot back step from this landmark recommendation (which was never implemented). It is proposed in this document “The government will take steps for reaching the long pending goal of raising the investment in the education sector to at least 6 percent of GDP as a priority.” It looks good but in the next point, the real intention of the draft policy became apparent as it put emphasis to encourage investment by private providers through philanthropy and corporate sector responsibility.  It proposes various steps for incentivising private sector investment in education, such as tax benefits and inclusion of education within the definition of infrastructure. Private funding and FDI is proposed as an important strategy for mobilising financial resources for R&D and other quality enhancement activities in education institutions.
 
This means in the coming days there will be more privatisation of higher education in India. This draft on new education policy clearly indicates the intention of the government to facilitate private houses in the name of mobilisation of funds and resources, their old strategy. Along with this mentioning private funding and FDI as an important tool for R&D is a serious threat to already fund starved, research in higher education. We need more and more fellowships to encourage research for which more allocation is required from the central budget but government seems to be in a mood to further reduce budget on higher education and leave higher education at the mercy of private houses. In fact, these proposals, if implemented, will further help private houses for plundering loot of the aspirant of higher education in India.
 
 
 
GOVERNANCE REFORMS IN
 
HIGHER EDUCATION AND UGC
 
Draft policy proposes various administrative changes regarding governance and regulation of higher education. It proposes to set up an ‘Education Commission’ comprising of academic experts, every five years to assist MHRD. There is a proposal for the creation of an Indian Education Service (IES), which will be an all India service with HRD as the cadre controlling authority. Draft policy also recommends the establishment of education tribunals at the centre and in the states headed by a retired High Court judge. Along with these proposals, it also recommends a mechanism for administering the National Higher Education Fellowship Programme and a Central Educational Statistics Agency.
 
Since some of these proposals look good but the long term aim is to completely replace the UGC with various new agencies with different functioning. There will be no role for UGC, means very silently government is planning to destroy UGC, which is an important institution to keep watch on education institutions. UGC is always seen as a hurdle in the path of private institutions. This is a long pending will of private players and government to destroy UGC to make it easy for them to operate in India. Indian higher education system is already having too many issues regarding their regulation, governance, administration and redressal system, now with these proposals, which will divide each function into a different compartment through a separate agency, will make coordination more difficult and less effective.
 
 
 
FOREIGN
 
UNIVERSITIES
 
For the furtherance of neo-liberal agenda in the field of education, there is an emphasis on promoting foreign universities in India. There is a continuous effort to invite foreign capital in the field of education. During the time of UPA also various bills were introduced in the parliament to pave a way for this capital in the form of foreign universities, but due to the resistance from broader sections of society, none of these was passed.  Presently there are fresh efforts in this direction, which is reflected in the draft policy, which quotes “If required, steps will be taken to put in place an enabling legislation. Rules/ regulations will be framed so that it is possible for a foreign university to offer its own degree to the Indian students studying in India”. Not only this, even foreign faculty will also be encouraged to work in India.
 
For foreign universities to work in India there is a need to reform over-all higher education system. One of these requirements is to have a uniform system of higher education in India. Draft identifies this need: “Steps will be taken to gradually move from years-based recognition of qualifications to credit-based recognition” Government has already implemented CBCS and RUSA, which is working in this direction. It is evident that these so-called ‘academic reforms’ (CBCS, semesterisation, RUSA) are not a need of Indian students but of foreign education players to have common playground for them.
 
 
 
QUALITY ASSURANCE
 
IN HIGHER EDUCATION
 
Ensuring quality in higher education is one of the major challenges in India. Various reports tell us about the low standard of institutions catering degrees to students. Most of the public, as well as private sector institutes, are facing the issues of inadequate infrastructure and facilities, large vacancies of faculty positions, poor quality of faculty, outdated teaching methods, declining research standards, etc. It is impossible to ensure quality education without addressing these issues.
 
The issue of teacher’s recruitment is dealt in a separate section. There are various proposals to attract youth for teaching professions in India. It is reflected as the youth in India is not interested in higher education ignoring the fact that there is a big number of aspirants who want to make their career in teaching but never get a chance due to policies of the government not to fill the vacant posts. Draft policy is also silent on thousands of the ad hoc/contact/guest lecturers teaching in higher education institutions. If we want to really improve the quality of education in India, we need good teachers in large numbers (India is one of the countries having worst student-teacher ratio), all the sanctioned posts in education institutions should be filled immediately following the proper procedure and maintain transparency. One cannot imagine ensuring the quality of education with temporary (ad hoc, guest, contract etc.) faculty. There should be concrete proposals to overcome these hurdles.
 
Draft policy indicates about these issues but is silent on the remedies. The only remedy it suggests for ensuring quality in higher education is the mandatory accreditation of education institutions by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accreditation (NAB). It looks like, for quality improvement, national and global ranking is the only solution. While acknowledging the importance of ranking and accreditation, one has to ask the question that these mechanisms can only check the quality but to improve quality more emphasis has to be laid on competent faculty, infrastructure, research facility etc. It is also important to check the widespread corrupt practices when it comes to accreditation and assessment of private sector. Draft policy fails to address these issues.
 
In fact, there is no proposed mechanism to monitor and check the private institutions. The student community is demanding for long to bring a central legislation to monitor the admission process and fee structure of private institutions but there is no mention of such provision in the draft.
 
There are high hopes from this new education policy, people are hoping that this policy will address problems and issues of higher education and will rejuvenate the education system. One of the reasons for this high hope is the kind of hype created by the government, but after analysing the draft, academic community and students will be disappointed. This policy will further strengthen the trends of privatisation and fund cuts in higher education, which is the root cause of all the problems related to accessibility, equity and quality.

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Nitheesh Narayanan

Campuses are the citadels of progressive ideals which sing the songs of the dark time in India. The political support extended by the student community of the English and Foreign Languages University, (EFLU) and Pondicherry University, has once again demonstrated this. The victory of students’ federation of India, SFI in EFLU and Pondicherry University in last week is not merely a result in a campus poll but a strong political statement which the students of this nation are eager to send to the public. This inspiring triumph has to be seen as a continuation of the thumping victory of SFI in Hyderabad Central University and Kerala Central University this year. With these results, SFI has emerged as the leading force in students’ unions in four of the seven central universities where democratic elections are being held in India. Even though the democratic platforms are suppressed and banned in the majority of the central universities, the students choose democratic and progressive forces as their representatives wherever they have an option. It is also a strong rebuttal to the entirely false and fabricated notion ofa Modi wave among the youth and students and is a befitting reply tothe saffron brigade’s campaign of the ‘Gujarat model of development’as what the future generation of India is waiting for.The democratic sections in the country are looking at campuses with much more hope and expectations than ever before in the recent past. Students’ Federation of India, SFI moves to its 15thAll Indiaconference after winning the confidence of the student community at large through the conclusive victories one after another in a raw.

Both the varsity poll results reflect the long struggles waged in the campuses over the question of campus democracy and student rights. It was Allied Students' Action for Democracy-EFLU; ASAD-E backed by SFI that swept all seats in the EFLU. ASAD-E is a larger platform of democratic sections in the campus which questioned the attack on democratic rights of the students in the campus. Tony Sebastian is elected to the post of president and Ajay Mathew (SFI unit president in EFLU) is elected as general secretary. Tania Kar (Vice President), Noble Antony (Joint. Secretary),AnasRahman(cultural secretary) and Ashish Krishna (Sports secretary) are the other members in the union. Tania Kar, AnasRahman and Ashish Krishna are unit executive committee members of SFI. It is a rejection of the regressive view thatUniversities is the spaces to silently listen the lectures and mug up information. The administration was forced to hold the election after a gap of one year without any elected students’ body in the campus.

The way students had to tread till they reached the day of elections had never been smooth. It was only one week before the election that disciplinary actions were taken against 11 students including many SFI activists over their participation in a peaceful protest demanding students’ body elections in university. Ina deliberate attempt to curb the strengthening of the movement all those 11 students were barred from contesting students’ union elections when it was achieved after continuous struggles and interventions by the students including them. One another student was also served with a show cause notice few days before for his Facebook post criticising the 'SwachhEflu' programme sponsored by the administration. These incidents are not isolated ones in the campus. It has been for a long time that the developments in EFLU have become a matter of shame to any democratic polity. The questions were being replied with a brutal repression of democracy. The demands for the space for debates were met with authoritarian diktats and autocratic orders to keep mute. Campuses must be upholding the high values of democracy and promoting democratic platforms. It has been a scene of inspiration that instead of taking out a victory rally the students decided to wage a struggle under the leadership of newly elected union against the unjust disciplinary actions on students in EFLU.

SFI was awarded with a decisive victory by the student community of Pondicherry University.All the regressive and caustic agendas of ABVP, who won the student body election last year, allying with the anti-student administration, have been utterly rejected by the vibrant student community of the Pondicherry University. SFI had emerged as the single largest organization in the students’ council election held on 23rd November. SFI-ASA alliance won all 11 seats in the University union to which election was held three days after. Elenkeswaran and Jishnu EN (Unit President of SFI) are elected to the posts of President and General Secretary respectively. SFI Unit committee member Com. Anjali S won unopposed to the post of vice president. Com. Theyventhiran is elected as joint secretary. Regon, Medha Ramesh, MedhaSurendranath, Harsha, Vinoth, ThamizhKalayarasi are the newly elected executive members of the students’ union.

It is the first time in the history of the campus, that the white flag occupies the sky of triumph in student body elections in Pondicherry University. This should be seen as the continuation of a series of struggles that were fought in PU over the last few years. Since its formation few years back, SFI has been in the forefront in raising the issues of students and questioning the irregularities in the university. The yearlong fearless movement which started in 2013 against Ragging and Sexual harassment is what brought PU to the notice of the democratic circles in the country. Many SFI activists were served with disciplinary actions over their active engagement in the struggle against ragging and sexual harassment. They were also brutally beaten up by the goondas backed by administration. Two brave girl comrades, Vidya and Kavya, were suspended from the campus for complaining against such atrocities and for deciding to protest. It was only after an yearlong political and legal battle, with a favourable verdict from Madras high court those comrades could complete their course. The judge while appreciating the two girl students, said they ‘stood to their ground and refused to tender unconditional apology’ as per the order of vice-chancellor Chandra Krishnamurthy and pointed out that their action ‘showed their courage of conviction and a refusal to comprise at the cost of honour’. He lauded them for overcoming the normal tendency and temptation of lesser mortals especially girl students, whose whole career as well as life may be at stake, to surrender to the power of authority.

It was only a few months after the court criticized the PU authorities over their highhandness over the student's rights that anotherstrong agitation was launched in the campus demanding the removal of Vice Chancellor, Chandra Krishnamurthy who has submitted fake bio-data to gain the post. Citing the indefensible irregularities in the university after her appointment as VC, the students intensified the protest day by day and it received immense support from various corners of the country. Threats one after another, police lathi-charge, arrests and all other efforts could not stop the advent of the students raising the slogans of democracy. The central government was forced to send the VC on a compulsory leave. ABVP, the union office holders of last year was hiding under the caves of deep silence all the while students came to streets to protest on genuine issues.

Central Universities are more plural and diverse space due to presence of students from various parts of India and the world. Students belonging to different nationalities are an active presence in such campuses. The choice of the students in Central Universities should also be read in relation to their valiant assertion against the Sangh Parivar initiated attacks on the cultural diversity of the nation and as a strong voice rejecting the vulgar attempts to divide the society on the lines of beliefs, cultures, languages, regions and religions. Yes, campuses are speaking out loud and they are definitely taking sides. They do write, on the walls and on the banners of their wars, ‘when politics decides your life, decide what your politics must be.’

Press Releases

Revolutionary Greetings to the Fighting ...

  Central Executive Committee of Students’ Federation of India extends it's ...

2017-09-15 04:18:00

Condemn the TMC attack on SFI District ...

    The Central Executive Committee of SFI condemns in strongest words the heinous ...

2017-09-11 10:33:23

Oppose The Fee Hike In IIT Bombay And ...

  The Central Executive Committee of Students' Federation of India extends its full support ...

2017-08-05 17:31:00

SFI Condemns The Problematic Statement ...

Central Executive Committee of Students’ Federation of India strongly condemns the comments ...

2017-07-28 17:00:00

SFI News

SFI-TSU Sweeps In Tripura College ...

  The SFI-TSU combine registered a splendid victory defeating the ...

2017-09-28 05:35:32

Jammu and Kashmir Students Federation ...

Bashrat Shameem (Report from Jammu and Kashmir)   As the spring ...

2017-04-03 12:15:23

Protest Against Sexual Harassment in ...

Demanding action on the sexual harassment in police custody, the SFI on ...

2017-03-19 21:49:36