The Central Executive Committee of Students’ Federation of India strongly condemns the racist mob violence on Tanzanian students in Bengaluru. A Tanzanian college student was attacked and stripped in Bengaluru following a road accident last week.
The particular incident highlights the racism which African citizens, including a large number of students, have to face in their daily lives in India. These attacks or the continuous attacks on the young men and women from the North Eastern states demands strong anti-racial discrimination legislation, along with efforts towards sensitization.
Even though five people have been arrested in the case, speedy judicial process should be ensured.
The students in India are on a warpath againstthe continuous onslaught on education by the NDA led central government. While a move to scrap non-NET fellowships for the researchers is being the latest, the welcoming of WTO to the sector of education is standing next in the line of attacks. An #Occupy UGC movement led by a coordination committee of different organizations and individuals is on at the headquarters of UGC in Delhi for last 45 days. The UGC’s decision taken in a full commission meeting to scrap the non-NET fellowships for the M.phil and Phd researchers studying in central universities met with a spontaneous outburst of protest from the students.It should also be noted that such a regressive step was taken at a time when Students have been demanding that the scholarships be increased to Rs.8,000 and Rs.12,000 respectively to provide basic minimum support to the researchers.
The protest spread across the nation immediately and students blockaded the regional centers of UGC in different corners of the country. Both the UGC and MHRD were challenged with a united movement of students which gained immense support from various democratic sections in the society. It was after these pressures built by the vibrant movement thatUGC was forced to hold the decision and agreed for a review in the next meeting. The movement intensified, forcing the HRD minister to come out of her office to answer the protesters. There were incidents of lathi-charging, detaining and manhandling of the protesting students by the police. But nothing could even affect the spirit of the struggle and it goes on with the demands of enhancement and expansion of the scholarship.
These fellowships have played a crucial role in helping the M.Phil. and Ph.D. research scholars of the Central Universities in India to sustain themselves. Researchers from deprived backgrounds will be the most hit by the new decision as should be obvious. Especially in the case of women researchers, the lack of financial independence makes them susceptible to familial pressures to leave research. The overall result would be the weakening of research in the country, undermining its knowledge base and intellectual self-reliance even as it makes research degrees inaccessible to the deprived sections of society. It has to be noted that the neo-liberal regime which complains about the lack of resources have already given a tax exemption of 5.89 lack crores to the corporate sector in the last budget. And there are further plans to reduce corporate taxes even more.
Though there is an immediate economic demand of the student community which triggered this movement, the scope and scale of the movement has become much larger than the immediate concern. The recent move of UGC cannot be seen in isolation with the assault of neo-liberal policies rigorously launched by the Modi led NDA government. This will also be in keeping with the government’s move to open up education as a tradable commodity under WTO-GATS.There are several indications that the government is inclined to sign a treaty at the Ministerial Meet of WTO/GATS scheduled from December 15-18 this year in Nairobi. We do not have even an iota of doubt that such a development will be resulting in the loss of sovereign and independent prerogative of the government to frame national policies and regulate education in the interests of its people and protect the constitutional right to education of every citizen. Recognizing the danger, a huge majority of the members in WTO has declined to include higher education under the WTO/GATS provisions, using their authority for exemption. But the name of India cannot be seen in that long list of around 120 nations. The government of India has already submitted an ‘offer’ to openup higher education to commercial trade in 2005. The last 25 years experience with the neo-liberal policies proves that the market of a capitalist society which functions with the logic of exploitation and unequal development can never be a solution for the educational backwardness of this country. Instead of recognizing the need of more intervention of government to ensure education facility to all,the attempt to surrender before WTO/GATS will pluck out the roots of even whatever less options are left before the students now.
The opening of higher education to trade under WTO/GATS as well as other bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral international trade agreements will oblige the government to follow iniquitous clauses of free trade in goods and services against the interests of citizens, make such commercial obligations irreversible despite public pressure in the future, and compel the government to surrender its right to frame national policy in the interest of citizens. According to the key rules of GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services) there should be equal treatment between domestic companies and foreign companies. With the curtain of equal treatment there will be a smooth space built for unequal development which has nothing to do with the development aspirations of the third world countries but limit and disturb its growth and self-sufficiency. Instead of the flow of opportunities as being advertised, this definitely will boost the flow of finance capital aimed at reaping huge profits through the running of ‘degree shops’, which will further damage the public education and will keep a large chunk of the growing generation away from education and in that way the nation in the dark always.
The issues of scraping non-NET fellowships and opening of higher education under WTO/GATS are not some isolated issues. In no doubt, it is the early warning signs of impending attacks on higher education and to bring it to under a highly unjust discriminative system for always with wiping out even the options of protest built by the people’s movement. Not only for guarding our immediate interest but to save our research, achieve a socially just and qualitative academic sphere in higher education and above all for an efficient education sector which contributes to the national development,it is the need of the hour to defeat the regressive agendas behind the above mentioned moves. It is in this context, recognizing the necessity of a larger unity and broader platforms of democratic and progressive forces AIDSO, AISF and SFI has decided to wage struggles together across the nation. There was already a national convention of the five student organizations which gave the call for more intensified struggles. There will be a joint protest in the leadership of these three national student organizations at all the state capitals demanding enhancement and expansion of non-NET fellowships and to keep education out of WTO/GATS on Dec. 02 201. This joint platform appeals to all democratic and progressive sections to rally united in the protests on Dec. 02 across the nation. We request the student community to make the struggle a massive success.
ALL INDIA DEMOCRATIC STUDENTS ORGANISTAION (AIDSO)
The Central Executive Committee of SFI wholeheartedly congratulates the vivacious student community of Pondicherry University for awarding a thumping victory to SFI led alliance in the students’ union election held today. The Students’ Federation of India (SFI)-Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) alliance swept all 11 seats and marching to the university students union for the first time in the history of the university. The defeat of the saffron brigade ABVP is a clear statement against the communal agendas of the Modi led central government. This result is also a sign of growing anger among the student community against the anti-student policies of the NDA government.
SFI had emerged as the single largest organization in the students’ council election held on 23rd. Lankeswaran 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, Medha Surendranath, Harsha, Vinoth, Thamizh Kalayarasi are the newly elected executive members of the students’ union.
The victory of SFI is reflecting the acceptance it gained through addressing different issues of students in Pondicherry University and the uncompromising struggles it waged in recent years. The SFI led year long political and legal battle against ragging and sexual harassment in Pondicherry University is one among those brave movements. Many students were served with suspension order over their participation in the protests raising the genuine concerns of the students. Two girl comrades were suspended for one year for their fearless stand of questioning unjust and atrocities on students with the support of administration in the campus. It was only after a favorable verdict from Madras high court these students could complete their course.
The students of Pondicherry University had waged a heroic struggle demanding the removal of the corrupt Vice Chancellor and the irregularities in the campus for years. Scaring the strength of the student movement the central government was forced to send the VC to for compulsory leave.
All the regressive and destructive agendas of ABVP allying with the anti-student administration have been utterly rejected by the vibrant student community of the Pondicherry University. It is a salute to struggle for democratic right of students of Pondicherry University. This victory of SFI is fourth in the row of recent victories in the student unions of central universities. EFLU, HCU and Central University of Kerala are there three other central universities where students have given their verdict to struggles of SFI. This is reflection the growing trust of students in SFI which is result of uncompromised struggles of SFI on students’ issues. This historic victory will boost the confidence of all democratic and progressive forces across the nation.
Central Executive Committee of Students’ Federation of India strongly condemn the unjust arrest of two former FTII students in Goa for protesting in International Film Festival of India, IFFI against the political appointments of incapable people in FTII society. SFI salutes the fearless protesting students of FTII whose struggles continue to give strength to the various struggles against saffronisation. The two ex-students of FTII-Pune -Kislay and Subham- once again exposes the cowardly attitude of the governments led by the Saffron brigade towards the democratic debates and critical voices.
This arrest coincides with the overall clampdown on the civil liberties of the citizens of Goa by the BJP-led government of the state, with the imposition of the ten-day prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, throughout the City of Panaji. While creative film personalities from all over the world have congregated for the 46th IFFI, this undemocratic act by the Government of Goa has brought immense shame to our country. It is probably for the first time that any International Film Festival anywhere in the world is accompanied by a massive crackdown on civil liberties of the local population.
CEC of SFI demands that both the students be released immediately and unconditionally. Progressive and democratic sections of Goa are uniting to ensure that both of them get bail. Such acts by RSS-BJP expose its inability to tolerate any democratic voice of protest. SFI appeal all the democratic and progressive sections to rally together to resist the day light robbery of democracy by the Sangh Parivar forces.
Dr. V Sivadasan, President Ritabrata Banerjee MP, General Secretary