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.
THE Students’ Federation of India has organised an all India convention of university students from October 17-19 at Osmania University in Hyderabad.
On the first day, a huge rally of students was organised, which started from Osmania NCC gate to Arts College, where it took the form of a public meeting. Cultural activists of Praja Natya Mandali led the rally in their traditional attire, symbolising the heroic legacy of the Telangana Armed Struggle that continues to inspire people’s struggles even today. Prof. G Haragopal, from the University of Hyderabad addressed the public meeting where he urged that the student movement should resist the communalisation of education and also focus on the implementation of the right to education and take part in the all India campaign on these issues. The meeting was also addressed by renowned teacher Chukka Ramaiah. Despite his ill-health, he came to address the public meeting, saying that his association with the Students’ Federation of India was decades old and couldn’t contain himself when such an important all India university students convention was taking place at a crucial juncture to debate on the communalisation and commercialisation of education. B V Raghavulu, former state secretary of Andhra Pradesh SFI commented that the present Modi government is carrying forward the same policies in higher education, as was done by the UPA-2 led government. He said that Modi came to power promising education and employment opportunities for youth but has not delivered on this front till now. Ritabrata Banerjee, general secretary of SFI, pointed to the urgency of the current situation, which requires carrying forward the legacy of study, struggle and sacrifice. S Veeraiah, editor of Prajasakti, V Sivadasan, SFI president and Madhuja Sen Roy, vice-president also spoke in the public meeting.
On the second day, the convention began with the flag hosting ceremony and paying homage to the martyrs of the organisation. V Sivadasan hoisted the flag. All the delegates paid respects at the martyrs’ column and pledged to carry forward the struggle of martyrs.
After flag hoisting, there was an inaugural session which was presided by Shoban, president of Telangana state committee of SFI. State secretary of Telangana, Sambashiva welcomed the delegates He also explained the importance of organising this convention in Osmania University after formation of the new state of Telangana.
Condolence resolution remembering and paying tributes to the martyrs of the democratic movement and progressive personalities, who left us in the recent past, was placed by Noor Mohammad, all India vice-president. The convention was inaugurated by V Sivadasan. He outlined the background in which this convention was being organised, particularly in a situation where a far right government has been formed at the centre and the RSS machinery is going ahead systematically in its attempts at saffronisation of education. The forces of Hindutva on one hand and the forces of privatisation and commercialisation of education on the other, hence represent the two biggest challenges for the student movement today. But, these challenges also offer opportunities of growth for the movement and the organisation, which can advance only through relentless struggles.
Delegate session started after the inauguration of the convention. For smooth functioning of the convention a seven member presidium was constituted by delegates. Presidium included V Sivadasan, Partho Das (Bardhaman University), Ambedkar (JNU), Suresh Sarwal (HPU), Pratusha (Nagarjun University), Ajesh (Kerala) and Luxmi (Jai Narayan University, Jodhpur).
Vikram Singh, all India joint secretary placed the draft resolution for university organisation. This draft dealt in detail the situation and challenges in universities and the need of building organisation in universities. Higher education in our country continues to be in a poor state due to scarcity of funds on one hand and poor quality on the other hand. In the XI Plan, India claimed to move from an “elite” system of higher education to a “mass” system when the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) crossed the threshold of 15%. However, our GER at 19.4% still remains below the world average of 29% (as of 2010). We have witnessed increase in the number of institutions of higher education. From 26 universities and 695 colleges at the time of independence, we have grown to 700 universities and 53912 colleges today. However, as the low GER very aptly indicates, increase in the number of institutions has still remained inadequate to meet the increased demand for higher education.
The GER amongst SCs and STs is much lower than the national average, and Muslims also have very low GER. Scheduled castes and minorities have lower access mostly due to socio-economic factors while tribal areas have lesser number of institutions serving them. GER for agricultural labour (7%) is the lowest while the self employed in non-agriculture (13.80%) and self-employed in agriculture (15.80%) are comparatively better. The other aspect of equity is women’s access to higher education. In the age group 18- 23 years, women are far behind men. While GER for women and girls is estimated to be 15.8 percent, it is 22.8 for men. Oddly enough, in the urban areas, the difference between GER for men and women is even higher than that in rural areas.
There are many posts of teaching and non-teaching which are vacant affecting the quality of teaching and research in universities. In 42 central universities with sanctioned faculty strength of 16,602, 6,542 posts remain vacant. This results in poor student-teacher ratio. The student teacher ratio in India (24:1) is very low as compared to other countries, 9.5:1 in Sweden; and 13.6:1 in the United States. According to the Dhande Committee report, the faculty strength as of 2008 was 6, 99, 644 with vacancies close to 40%.
There is a rapid privatisation of universities in India. Students studying in public institutions only constitute about 42% of the total enrolments; the remaining 58% are enrolled in private institutions including aided and unaided.
Private universities demand huge fee from the students. Commercialisation entails that quality education becomes synonymous with affordability. The goals of equity and inclusion, the fundamental pillars of policy making in any democracy, might be the first casualties if unbridled profit making is instituted as a norm for the educational institutions in the private sector.
Kothari Commission stated, “It is undesirable to regard fees as a source of revenue. They are the most regressive form of taxation; fall more heavily on the poorer classes of society and act as an anti-egalitarian force.”
India is more privatised compared to other capitalist or market economies, for instance, the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. In the US, one-fifth to one-fourth of the total number of students in higher education, and about 30% of the global enrolment in higher education, are in private institutions; the remaining students go to public universities. In contrast, in India, 66% of students in general education and 75-80% in technical education are enrolled in private, self-financing institutions (Planning Commission document, 2013).
Governments are not ready to allocate funds for higher education including universities. The same trend is followed by the Modi- led BJP government. The UGC has borne the brunt of a serious assault by the government with a drastic 32% cut even in absolute terms.
An alarming trend is the decline in India’s share of world researchers, which stood at 2.2% in 2007, a reduction from 2.3% in 2002. A study on India’s research output by Thomson Reuters in 2010 has estimated India’s global share of scientific publication to be about 3.5% for 2010. On the other hand, China’s share has increased from 14% to 21.1% during the period under study (2002- 2007).
The convention also expressed its concern on the fact that in most of the universities, no students’ union elections are being conducted and in many places, even the basic democratic rights to associate and organise public meetings are being denied to the student community. The attacks on the democratic rights are an integral part of the ongoing neo-liberal assaults on the higher education and hence the struggle for campus democracy also becomes an integral part of the resistance against such policies.
After the placing of resolution, there was a group discussion among the delegates of various states, which lasted for more than 3 hours. 27 delegates presented the points emerging out of these group discussions.
On the third day of the convention, Prof K Nageshwar addressed the delegates, sharing his own experiences of the student movement. K Nageswar is a senior professor of journalism at Osmania University, Hyderabad. He is also a visiting faculty at BITS, Hyderabad campus. He spoke on the topic ‘Higher Education in India and the challenges before student movement.’ He said we are now in an intensely knowledge-driven economy that has gripped the world economy. So the demand should be to expand the opportunity to access quality higher education for all. Prof Nageshwar cited Amartya Sen on inequality and elaborated that one kind of inequality leads to inequality of other. Education inequality leads to wage and work inequality. While concluding he hoped that SFI would also take its activism into private universities and ensure that quality of education is maintained and problems of students are taken up. He identified the challenges facing the university students in the present scenario especially in the situation where there is a concerted campaign to depoliticise the campuses. He also explained the debates with regard the higher education. Earlier the focal points were just primary and secondary education leaving behind higher education. Though we agree to the fact that essential importance has to be given to primary and secondary education sectors, he emphasised the importance of the higher education sector as well.
The draft resolution was adapted, after including the amendments and suggestions, which emerged out of the discussions. It was passed unanimously by the delegates.
The convention also adopted the following demand charter for future struggles:
· Spend 6 % of GDP and 10% of central budget on education
· Restore the federal structure within education
· Scrap the attempts of centralisation through bodies such as NCHER
· Make appropriate budgetary allocations to fill the vacant teaching and non-teaching positions
· Scrap RUSA and the attempts to link public funding with neo-liberal agendas
· Restore democratic rights of students in all campuses of the country. Hold student union elections in all colleges and universities; ensure student representation in the governing bodies (senates and syndicates) of the universities
· Form democratically elected and functional anti-sexual harassment committees in all the colleges and universities
· Ensure scholarships for all research scholars
· Stop privatisation through self finance courses
· Increase allocations for research and development
The convention also gave a call for a nation-wide protest day against the policies of privatisation, commercialisation, centralisation and communalisation of education by the Modi-led government at the centre.
A nineteen member sub-committee for universities was elected by the convention. In this committee three places have been kept vacant. Members of the committee are : Vikram Singh, Prem (Himachal Pradesh), Sangeeta Dass (Assam), Ajesh (Kerala), Mayukh Biswas (West Bengal), Mahipal Singh (Rajasthan), Luxmi (Uttrakhand), Praveen (Haryana), Vikram Patel (Madhya Pradesh), Stalin (Tamil Nadu), Pruthushya (Andra Pradesh), Anjenulu (Telengana), Balaji (Maharastra), Harinder Bajwa (Punjab), Shailender Kumar Yadav (Bihar) and Ambedkar (Delhi). Vikram Singh is the convener of this committee. There are six co-convenors namely Ajesh from Kerala, Mayukh Biswas from West Bengal, Stalin from Tamil Nadu, Pruthushya from Andhra Pradesh, Ambedkar from Delhi and Anjenulu from Telangana.
Ambedkar gave the vote of thanks, appreciating the hard work and efforts of the Telangana state committee in smoothly conducting the convention. He also thanked the Andhra Pradesh committee for its support and help in the conduct of the convention. The convention ended with ‘We shall overcome’, and the delegates pledged to carry forward the slogan of ‘study and struggle’ in universities across the country, with new energy and enthusiasm.
KARL Marx and Friedrich Engels, the immortal heroes for the working and toiling masses of the world, not only showed the path of liberation to the working class, but together also encompassed one of the most historic friendships that world has ever seen. This friendship of two of these greatest intellectuals of the working class led to brilliant exchange of ideas. In one such exchange of ideas, Engels wrote to Marx that universities are the battle fields of ideas, Marx responded saying ‘Yes, universities are the battle field of ideas and ideas of the ruling class are the ruling ideas in every epoch’. This battle of ideas can be seen even now in the present era and Himachal Pradesh University is one of the best places to see this battle unfolding where student movement led by the Students’ Federation of India is continuously fighting for ideas of working class and the authorities are imposing the ideas of ruling class.
Himachal Pradesh University is one of the few universities in India in terms of having low fee structure and access of education to poor sections of society. In the times when crimes against girls and women are increasing day-by-day, it is one of the safest places for girls amounting to more than 70% of students of total enrollment.
Here we can see poor students from every corner of the state coming, fulfilling their dream to study higher education and making their careers in different areas. This is a place which is giving an equal opportunity to all to uplift their lives through higher education, in spite of economic inequality prevailing in the society. The Himachal Pradesh University is inculcating human and social values among the students so that when they are serving the public they are more sensitive.
This scenario in the university is not due to the will of subsequent state governments of the state because these qualities and culture is lacking in other two state universities of the state, which are having higher fee structures and values of consumerism also dominate there. This democratic culture where young minds are nurtured to become more sensitive for public issues and against injustice is a result of continuous and glorious history of student movement which has been continuously led by the Students’ Federation of India.
To create this atmosphere on campus and to fight for the rights of the students, student union elections and the elected student unions have played a decisive role. Most of the historical struggles have been fought under the banner of students central association the elected student union of campus and same applies to the colleges of the state. Not only struggles but most of the other activities of college and university students like youth festivals, sports meets, and cultural functions are a result of initiatives taken by elected student unions. It is worthwhile to mention here that right from 1979, student union elections in HPU are won by candidates of the SFI.
State governments and Himachal Pradesh University Authorities have always considered elected unions as a hurdle to the implementation of their anti-student agenda inspired by the neo-liberal policies. Whenever there is a proposal of fee hike, simultaneously there is an effort to curtail the democratic rights of the students. On August 26, 2014, the same was repeated when Himachal Pradesh University authorities in a meeting of the executive council banned the student union election for one year in the university campus and affiliated colleges of state. They are proposing to form a nominated student union.
BACKGROUND OF THE DECISION
For last two or three years, the state governments and university authorities have been proposing various fee hikes but due to the agitation of student unions they were not succeeding in their efforts. At the same time, the university implemented Rashtriya Uchhtar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) last year which attracted a mass resistance from the students. Throughout the last year, students were fighting against this RUSA. Teachers were also on the roads against this. SFI led student union of campus and colleges was able to lead this agitation very successfully. At the beginning of this new session, authorities who were planning to implement the fee hike were also feeling the heat of protests against RUSA which has collapsed the academic system of state colleges. In this background, university vice chancellor A N D Bajpayee started the advocacy to ban student union election citing the examples of violence in the colleges and campus.
SFI led SCA initiated a mass student movement against the proposed fee hike which got immense support of students. A N D Bajpayee was convinced that if elected student union will be there or any space for democratic voice will be there, then the decision of fee hike and its implementation is never going to be possible. So in a planned manner he championed the issue of campus violence through his near and dears. Finally in the executive council meeting where three nominees of state government are there, the decision to shut down all the voices of democracy and opposition was taken. In the same meeting the decision of massive fee hike was also taken.
VIOLENCE AND ELECTIONS
The reason of violence to ban student union election is fully wrong and misleading. Violence cannot be a reason to suppress the democratic voice of students. It’s a part of general campaign of ruling class about student politics. The nature and cause of violence that takes place in campuses has to be analysed. Firstly, during student union elections the incidents of violence are negligible. In fact student union elections make student organisations more responsible. Most of the cases of violence are sponsored by the political parties like the Congress and the BJP through their goons to attack leaders of the SFI and on occasions to attack general students to break the unity of students and create an environment of fear, so that students can be stopped from joining the SFI. Most of the time the police does not act according to the law and instead of taking action against culprits they arrest leaders of the SFI. There are many incidents when the ABVP or NSUI goons have attacked the SFI leaders and police have arrested the victim. Historical incident of Sanjauli college is one of the examples when Congress goons attacked SFI leaders who were agitating against authorities. In this attack the then state secretary of SFI Dr Onkar Shad was severely injured. Same is the case of October 2013 when ABVP leaders attacked SFI leaders with sharp edged weapons when they were coming to campus. It was like there was no police to stop them in campus and they were fearlessly carrying swords and ‘khoonkaries’ for hours in the campus. After this incident the students of the campus got agitated and under their pressure these culprits were arrested and they got bail after nine months. Interestingly most these students are near to A N D Bajpayee who is giving baseless reasons. Even after their bail, these culprits or more specifically goons of ABVP are residing in hostels in front of police and nobody is stopping them. The same culprits attacked SFI leaders on breakfast tables with ‘Desi Katta’ (Revolver) and provided a pretext to VC Bajpayee to start his campaign. Many a time violence is used by authorities and the government to defame and weaken the student movement. The relationship of ABVP with A N D Bajpayee is known to everyone. The VC on one hand is protecting the culprits and giving a fillip to violence and on the other hand banning student union elections due to violence.
Professor Arun Diwaker Nath Bajpayee having a close relationship with RSS second-in-command, Soni has been in the controversy right from his appointment as the VC of Himachal Pradesh University. A well known figure not for academics but for his academic and financial corruption in Reva University was fired from his duties by the governor of Madhya Pradesh on account of corruption. He is known for his dictatorial style of working and he started in the same fashion in HPU also. Last BJP state government appointed him amidst all round opposition from academicians and even from BJP’s own cadre. Here also Bajpayee followed his old style and soon cases of his corruption as well as undue expenditure of university funds for personal luxuries became a common talk. He tried to crush the student movement, tried to implement fee hike but failed due to the organised struggle of the union. He tried to lure the union leaders in all possible ways, but very soon realised that he can’t play with the honesty of the SFI leaders. He took this defeat personally. On many informal occasions he cited that his main aim is to uproot the SFI from the HPU. He was always trying to ban union elections. For the last two years he dissolved the elected union before the completion of its tenure. But his decisions did not make a difference because the union enjoyed the same support of students. After the change of the government, he started to please the Congress and conferred honorary doctorate degree to Congress leaders. Having close relations with the head of the university and the state saved his post and he got an extension for six months.
ROLE OF STATE GOVERNMENT
Many people are seeing the extension of Bajpayee’s tenure as a surprise as the state chief minister is against him but it is no surprise for us. In fact for a feudal landlord like Vir Bhadra Singh, Bajpayee is one of the most suitable people to implement his policies. The Congress government is implementing its agenda through Bajpayee. The chief minister is well known for his anti-democratic approach. He was the same person who had banned student union elections in the past from 1986 to 88 and 1994 to 1999 on the same grounds. Again this is an effort to suppress the voice of students and advance the anti-student agenda in the absence of elected student union. The vice chancellor has full support of the Congress government on both these decisions. In fact the chief minister has defended the decisions including the implementation of RUSA in a function at St Beats Girls College, Shimla.
MASSIVE FEE HIKE
It is important to mention here that the Himachal Pradesh University is one of the few universities where the fee structure is very low and affordable to poor students. This is result of the democratic movement. But now authorities have proposed a massive fee hike even to the extent of 10 times. For example a private candidate can appear in exams paying fees of 100 rupees only, benefitting girls, Schedule Castes and tribals, who can’t attend regular classes. But in the new proposal, the same fees will be 1000 rupees. The fee of duplicate certificate has been increased from Rs 300 to 1200, fee for provisional certificate from Rs 500 to 1500, examinations form fee from Rs 200 to 2000 etc. This is the reason behind the intention to ban union elections. Students are already in struggle against this fee hike.
Himachal Pradesh University’s VC is lying when he says that the university is not in a position to hold union elections. This is due to the reason that results of under graduation classes are pending for the last nine months. The cause behind it is again RUSA due to which the whole examination pattern has been changed. There is a scarcity of staff at all levels. Even teachers are involved in preparing results and making all eateries. Thousands of the first year students will not be able to contest elections due to pending results. According to Lyngdoh recommendations, candidates should have passed when contesting elections. When results are not there, one can understand the grave situation created by the RUSA.
ATTACK ON DEMOCRATIC CULTURE
The policies of the chief minister and of the vice chancellor are against democratic values. This is also true for this neo-liberal economic regime. These polices don’t tolerate any voice of resistance. We can witness this in our society where attacks are there on democratic rights. Even right to form association and right to strike is under scrutiny. We have witnessed fresh attacks on right to expression in the case of Kerala students, who were booked by the police for raising their voice against Modi. Himachal Pradesh University can’t remain unaffected from this. Already there is a ban on slogan shouting in campus by the intervention of the court in the case of State v/s Anjana Chauhan. This case was also planted by one of the Congress teachers’ leader giving false reasons in the court. Students can’t hold rallies and can’t address classes. Five SFI leaders are expelled from the Centre of Excellence Government College, Sanjauli including SFI campus secretary and president for their involvement in protest to hold student union elections and against fee hike. It means that already there is an attempt to prevent free thinking and exchange of ideas so that ideas of the ruling class can rule. The VC is ensuring this by his dictatorial approach. He has gone to such an extent that he is openly threatening to close down the university for indefinite time if students protest against his decision to ban elections, as if the university is like a factory of his personal ownership and he can close its door any time.
This democratic right of students was gained after long struggles when direct elections were held in 1979. Even then the Congress men had disrupted the democratic process and the results were withheld for fear of victory of the SFI. Only the result of vice president was declared and SFI candidate Shyama Prasad was declared winner. Before that indirect elections were there, again there is an effort to hold indirect elections and propaganda is there that ban on elections is not there but nominated union will be there for one year. This is another way to befool students since the government knows clearly that there will be anger among students on banning elections. Hence they are playing the card of indirect or nominated SCA, so that students do not protest. The authorities will form student unions of their will. Their proposal is to form a union from the toppers in academics, sports and culture. But it is generally seen that if one is excellent in academics or sports it is not necessary that he is interested in student politics and education issues. In this way, the administration wants to suppress student’s opposition on fee hike and RUSA.
But students cannot be tricked in this manner. There are huge struggles going on throughout the state. Students are turning in huge numbers in these protests. The need of the hour is to form broader unity but unfortunately the ABVP and the NSUI do not understand the urgency of the situation and are fulfilling the requirements of their parental parties. The NSUI is trying to justify the state government by saying that this decision is of the university alone and the Congress government has nothing to do with it. Being a student organisation, the ABVP also cannot deny for struggle openly, but they are saying that they will fight on their own.
The VC’s next target is teachers. On many occasions he has said that he wants to ban teachers’ elections as well. After banning the student union elections he stated in the media that his next target is teachers. Himachal Pradesh University has a legacy of joint struggles, be it against corruption or for defending democratic rights. Infact, Himachal Pradesh University presents a classical example where students have been extending their support to the working class and vice versa, due to which many historical struggles have been fought and won.
Once again there is a need to wage such struggles against this attack of the ideas of ruling class, because our experience of history shows that these attacks will not be limited only to students. Students are their first target; they want to change over the entire education system so that they are suitable for private and foreign players. RUSA, fee hike, ban on protests and now ban on student union elections, all these steps are moving in the same direction. It is time to wage a joint struggle against these attacks not only in the campuses and the university but at the ideological level also. The mainstream media is already striving to create an opinion advocating for the ban, inspired by the the general campaign that students should abstain from politics. So it is the duty of all progressive democratic minded people to extend their support to the struggles of students of Himachal Pradesh.