THE Bihar state conference of SFI, held in Patna on September 6 after a long gap, has raised a great hope among the participants and the newly-elected leadership to bring the mass of the students under the banner of ‘independence, democracy and socialism’ and foster the vision of socialism as the battle cry against the onslaught of neo-liberal agenda pursued by the ruling classes of the county. The ominous sign of privatisation of the education sector as a whole and throwing open the gates of higher education for the invasion of foreign universities in particular will result in the deprivation of the vast sections of poor students to pursue their education and make a space for themselves in the inhuman capitalist and competitive market.
The state conference took place in the background of a series of local movements spearheaded by the SFI in Samastipur, Madhubani, Lakhisarai, Madhepura, and most notably in Chapra, A large number of Metric examination pass-outs had been denied admission in colleges all across Bihar. The SFI unit of Chapra took up this issue of admission for all pass-outs and mobilised a large number of students around this single issue. Sit-ins, demonstrations and gheraoes marked the month-long agitation which culminated in a big victory for the agitating students. The government was forced to accept the demand and to direct the university authorities to admit all the pass-outs in various colleges. Students of Chapra celebrated the victory by bringing out a big procession under the banner of SFI.
The state conference symbolised the new found zeal and enthusiasm generated by the above mentioned movement and brought to the focus, the urgent need to mobilise students for a common education system, against privatisation and commercialisation of the sector and the recent move by the newly-installed Modi government at the centre to saffronise it.
Two hundred delegates from 16 districts participated in the conference representing various colleges and schools of the state. A dozen of girl students in their uniforms also participated in the conference.
The conference started at 1 pm with the unfurling of the organisation flag by SFI all India joint secretary Satarup Ghosh. Later on, Dr Nawal Kishore Chowdhary, a noted economist and the principal of Patna College, inaugurated the conference. In his hour-long inaugural speech, he lambasted the education policy pursued by the centre and the state governments, which, according to him, is the offshoot of neo-liberal economic policy. He exhorted the students to take on the new challenges posed by the Modi government head on as it is bent on not only implementing the neo-liberal agenda with new vigour but making India another Pakistan. He referred to the recent move by the central government to appoint dubious historian with communal outlook at the helm of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) and other such organisations. Students of Gujarat are forced to read Dinanath Batra’s unscientific books and these books are freely distributed among the school-going students. He stressed the need to fight for restoration and spread of scientific temper to fight against obscurantist and retrograde ideas sought to be inculcated among the students in the 21st century when Indian scientists have made a mark by venturing into space. He thanked the SFI for taking up the challenges in an otherwise gloomy atmosphere and wished the conference a resounding success.
Alok Dhanwa, a renowned revolutionary poet, in his brief speech invoked the memory of revolutionary icons from the fields of politics, culture and literature to arouse a sense of history among the students so that they can carry forward the revolutionary legacy and follow on the foot steps of those giants.
After the end of inaugural session, acting state secretary of SFI Bijay Bharti placed the report before the delegate session. Two dozen delegates, both boys and girls, participated in the discussion. Later on, the report with its future programme of action was unanimously accepted.
As an observer of the proceedings of the conference, Satarup Ghosh congratulated the organisers of the conference and dwelt at length about the challenges of the present situation and the task before the SFI. He referred to the recent victory of the SFI in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh and the possibility of a big leap in Bihar in the near future. He gave a graphic account of struggles waged by Bengal students inviting immense hardship and difficulties for their lives. They are fighting for the restoration of democratic and human rights and called upon the delegates to show solidarity with them. He exhorted the delegates to go back and organise the students in every school and college of the state and rally them for the transformation of the society which lies at the heart of every democratic movement.
The conference elected a 27-member executive committee with Deepak Verma as president and Bijoy Bharti as general secretary. A three-member presidium conducted the proceedings.