Press Release issued by the five major Left students’ organizations of India
SFI AISF AIDSO AISB PSU
All sections, except the corporates, of Indian society have registered their anger and protest over the extremely ill-treatment they have met with by the Narendra Modi government. Those sections are cutting across the categories such as farmers, workers, Dalits, religious minorities, teachers, unemployed youth etc. Students have been one of the worst affected sections in the country under the NDA regime. There have been a series of attacks, from multiple level and character, which have resulted, on the one hand, weakening of Indian education system and on the other sabotaging the very idea of education and its social responsibility.
The education, from the primary level to the higher education and research, have been shaped to an arena where only privileged are entertained to enter. The funds for public institutions have been cut drastically over the years. The premier public funded institutions such as JNU have even stopped subscribing important academic journals by citing the scarcity of fund. The central government have given green signal to start Self-financing courses in public universities and colleges, in the name of autonomy. On the one side seats have been reduced in higher education institutions while on the other side, there is a complete dismantle of reservation. All the declaration on education were either remained.The policies of centralisation, commercialisation and communalisation of education have reached to an unparallel level under the Modi regime. The federal character of Indian education is under severe attack, with initiating central policies without taking the peculiarities of each state and their representation in decision making into cognisance. These character of exams like NEET have led to a huge exclusion to the students from certain states such as Tamilnadu. The children in India belongs to the country which shares the largest portion of uneducated children in the globe. They are also part of the biggest share of the children live in hunger in the world, and India positioned at 100th on global hunger index. We have seen the infants are killed without providing oxygen at a government hospital in BJP ruled state. None of these have been addressed, instead a statue was built with 2989 crores, the amount worth to build two new IITs or 5 IIMs or one AIIMS. More statues are in the queue. The students of marginalised sections and historically oppressed communities continued to be the worst affected with these policies and thereafter were forced to drop out in big numbers.
Nearly 9 crore children in India still don’t go to school, the highest in the world. In Gujarat only there are 12000 schools, including 32772 government schools run by just one or two teachers. All the big announcements made by Modi did not move from there to actually benefiting the students in the country. The amount NDA government has spent so far for one of their big claims, Beti Bachchao Beti Padao, is much lesser than the amount spent for advertising the same. And even the gender violence in campuses has also increased over the years. The government has budgeted only 3000 crore while the actual amount of scholarship owed to the Dalit students being 8,600 crore. Despite the massive backlog the centre allocated less funds to the post-matriculation scholarship scheme for 2018-19- the outlay reduced from 3347.9 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 3000 crore for the next year. Last month, the Madras high court has directed the Central government to allocate funds of arrears of Rs. 822.91 crore, upto 2016-17, to disperse the fund meant for SC/ST students under the post-metric scholarship, within two months. Instead of following the court order, they have brought a new regulation restricting the scholarship only to those who have cracked NET. This will lead to a further exclusion of the most oppressed sections from the higher education. 33% teaching posts are vacant in Indian universities with a gigantic portion of the reserved seats are also laying unappointed. There is also a serious threat of unemployment before the youth in the country. Rate of unemployment is highest in 20 years. The promise of creating two crore job opportunities every year was forgotten immediately since Modi came to power, and the educated youth live in a condition of disarray. No rhetoric could mask the truth, India lives in a dangerous reality.
Communalisation have been another severe threat to the secular fabric of education system. Syllabuses have been changed drastically, under the BJP governments in various states, which replaced Science and history with myths and puranas. Historical facts are distorted and Communal questions are brought into exam papers. Distorting all due procedures and merit the Sangh parivar agents are appointed at the head of different institutions and universities. The culprits behind the institutional murder of Rohit Vemula are roaming free and JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, who was attacked by ABVP, is still untraceable. Campus democracy have been attacked heavily, and a sense of fear and surveillance was instilled in educational institutions, instead of an atmosphere of free speech, debate and discussion. With election is at the doorstep, the drama of labelling ‘anti-national’ have been restarted after a small gap. The latest episode of charge sheet against JNU students, on a clearly fabricated case, long three years after the politically motivated case was registered shows they have nothing else to show the world, but lies built on lies.
We have seen the people of all sections coming to streets against the anti-people policies of Modi government. All segments in education sector also have been hit hard by the same policies. After the historic protest marches of workers and farmers, the national capital will witness the rage of people in education sector on February 18th and 19th. Students will be mobilised from across the nation for a massive student march to parliament on Feb. 18th. There will be an intensive campaign throughout the country highlighting the issues of education as part of this ‘Delhi Chalo’ call by the left student organisations. Conventions and seminars will be held in all states rallying all democratic and secular sections. ‘Save Education, Save Democracy, Save Nation’ would be the central slogan of the campaign.
The central demands of the ‘Chalo Delhi’ march are-
· Establish a nation-wide fully state-funded and free Common Education System from KG to PG.
· Increase government spending to at least 6% of the GDP and 10% of the central budget on education.
· Ensure guaranteed employment to all.
· Stop communalization of education.
· Implement existing reservations properly and ensure social justice in govt as well as private institutions.
· Release the money for all pending scholarships immediately and establish more fellowships for research scholars from deprived backgrounds.
· Protect federal character of education and resist centralization of education.
· Stop Gender discrimination and atrocities on girl students.
The bill brought by Modi government and passed by both the houses of parliament allowing 10% reservation for the “economically backward” among the forward castes is just an election gimmick and a tool to mask their failures in creating more jobs for the youth in the country. Though the parameters to figure out the economic backwardness is ill-defined and without the backing of any data the initial reports have shown that those whose annual income is less than 8 lakh will be considered for this benefit. Calling those who are earning about 67 thousand per month "poor" is a mockery to the reality of India.
Ever since independence the reservation policies were meant to ensure representation at various levels of government for the deprived communities. This was necessary as there was a systematic discrimination and denial of equal opportunities to the historically oppressed castes. There is a huge gap between the forward castes and others in terms of enrolment in various levels of educational institutions as well as in the government jobs.
The Gross Enrolment Ratio amongst SCs and STs is much lower than the national average. The share of student enrolment across all backward communities in India is lesser than their proportionate share in population. According to All India Survey of Higher Education 2017-18, SC student enrolment in higher education is just 14.4%, 5.2% for STs, and 35% for the OBCs of the total student enrolment in higher education. As far as Muslim minority is concerned the representation is just 2.2%.
The social composition of teaching community is far worse. General category constitute 56.8% of the total teaching appointments. SCs are 8.6%, STs are 2.3% and OBCs are 32.8%. Muslim minority constitute 5.3%.
54.7% of the total non-teaching staffs are come under general category, 14% are SCs and 4.4% are STs and 27% are OBCs.
Considering representation of different social groups in Group ABC of central government services both SCs and OBCs constitute 17.3% of the total. More than half of the jobs are represented by the general category.
Successive governments have systematically ignored the question of ‘social Justice’. The 27% OBC quota has not been implemented properly in most of the educational institutions. Discriminatory cut-off and manipulation of rules are undermining the existing reservation policy. The constitutionally mandatory seats reserved for the SC/STs continue to remain vacant every year.
The current regime has seen an increase of atrocities on oppressed castes, discrimination and denial of equal opportunities.
The bill also has proposed the said reservation to be implemented in the private educational institutions. At the same time the government keeps mum on the long term demand we raised to enact a legislation to ensure that the existing reservation is implemented in full scale in all private institutions. They have also not considered to regulate the fee structure in private institutions and to reduce the fee for the economically deprived sections to an affordable level. All these exposes the hidden agenda of the Modi government which do not show any commitment towards safeguarding social justice. Preparing another drama in the name of the 'poor' without addressing these concerns must be opposed. Moreover the proposal for the amendment of constitution of India is announced by the Modi government, just before the Loksabha is going to dissolve is an aim to mask their failure in creating more jobs for the educated youth of all sections in the country. This move is nothing more than an electoral gimmick. Any amendments to the constitution needed wider consultations and study. There are even reports about the massive exclusion of several OBC Communities. The rearrangement of reservation should have addressed all such concerns. Detailed studies are needed to check on the further sections be included under the quota system. The policy makers should listen all the opinions of the stakeholders on the policy. The pros and cons have to be assessed and proper data needs to be produced before the public.
SFI demands the central government to stop this election ploy and address all the questions mentioned above along with following the due procedures before any amendment to the constitution. We also demand to ensure the reservation is implemented in full scale in private sector too. There must also be special messures to grant assistance to the economically deprived sections in forms such as scholarships and financial aids. SFI assures to continue the struggles to fill the constitutionally mandated quota of reservation which is undermined by the various levels of the government authorities. Moreover the education should be free for all. No student should be denied the chances of education because of their economic backwardness. The fellowships should be disbursed timely and hiked time to time.
The Central Executive Committee of SFI pays our heartfelt homages to the demise of Comrade Simon Britto who have left us after living an extraordinary life as a 'living martyr'. In 1983, when Comrade Britto was SFI State Vice-President, he was attacked and stabbed by KSU-Congress(I) goons. So bloody was the attack that he had to spend 3 months bed-ridden leaving his body was paralyzed spine down. But by sheer courage and determination, he got back to life, thereby earning the title of “Living Martyr”.
The deep spinal injuries had paralysed his body chest down. He continued living with upholding the same politics and values of the white flag of SFI. He emerged as a vibrant voice of left in Kerala. Comrade Britto, living in wheel chair, traveled across the nation and wrote enormously. He was also served as an member of Kerala legislative assembly as a nominated member from Anglo-Indian community. He remained a huge source of inspiration to all SFI cadres and left activists throughout his life.
Today, at the age of 64, Comrade Simon Britto breathed the last. He will be remembered and hounered forever by the progressive student community in all its struggle against the right wing forces.
As part of the fellowship movement the central executive committee of SFI urged all the university units and research institutes to organise protest demonstration for increasing fellowship and its regular disbursement. SFI will be holding protest demonstration on these demands on 21st December, 2018. SFI demands that the government has to intervene in the following matters with urgency:
Non-NET fellowships should be increased by at-least 50 % from the current session.
A hike according to the inflation of last 4 years and regular disbursement of fellowship of JRF, CSIR and ICCSR or ICHR has to be done.
A parity of amount needs to be maintained while awarding scholarship across the higher education institutes.
The notification for scholarship like MANF, RGNF or SVSGC which has a particular target population cannot be untimely and irregular.
More scholarship in the post graduate level has to be ensured for the people who are coming from weaker financial section of society with preference to those from marginalized communities and to increase the present post graduate level scholarships according to the inflation of last 4 years.