Central Executive Committee of SFI is going to hold its 15th all India Conference on 22nd January to 25th January, 2016 at Sikar Rajasthan. There will be a huge rally of students on 22nd January. More than 750 delegates from different state units of SFI will be participating in the conference. It is for the first time in the history of SFI that All India Conference is going to be organized in the northern India. CEC decided to hold conference at Sikar in view of increasing strength of SFI in northern India and Rajasthan being a centre of development for organization. The reception committee is formed in a well attended meeting held at Sikar on 18th November. Com. Amraram, former MLA and Kisan Sabha leader and Com. Satyajeet Benchar, SFI state president as Convener. There will be a thorough discussion and review of the organizational work of last three years and the steps to forward will be properly planned to take up the issues in education sector. SFI is moving to its All India Conference with the confidence we achieved through the experiences of leading immense struggles on various issues across the nation in recent years. The reception SFI has among the student community can be traced by the recently held students’ union elections in different campuses and universities. CEC has decided to take a vibrant campaign against the BJP led central government including issue of commercialization (especially offering education to WTO/GATS), centralization and communalization.
A ministerial meet of WTO/GATS is scheduled from December 15-18 this year in Nairobi. There are several indications that the government is inclined to sign a treaty to open up education as a tradable commodity under WTO-GATS. Beyond the shadow of any doubt 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 open up 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.
•A mass rally is planned to parliament on 26th November, the first day of winter session of parliament to demand that the government roll-back current policies of commercializing education, increase the education budget, withdraw the ‘offer’ made under WTO/GATS to open market access to higher education and commit to keeping education out of all such tradable service negotiations. The rally will be under the banner of National Platform in Defense of Education(NPDE) in which SFI is an active member. Various organizations of teachers and students are part of this larger platform. We appeal to all democratic sections to join in the parliament march in large numbers.
•On 26th November, on the same day of parliament march in national capital, SFI will observe as a protest day across the nation voicing against the move to open up education as a tradable commodity under WTO/GATS. SFI will organize protest gatherings in all campuses and district and state centers. We appeal the student community to make the protest a grand success.
•Joining with all democratic and progressive forces, organizations and concerned individuals SFI will be intensifying the struggles against the move to sell out education in the coming days.
On non-NET Fellowships
UGC has taken a regressive decision to scrap the non-NET fellowships in a full commission meeting held on 07th October, 2015. The decision has been put on hold followed a massive protest outburst by the students with the support of various democratic sections. An #occupy UGC Movement is going on for the last one month at the head quarters at New Delhi in the leadership of a coordination committee which includes different organizations and concerned individuals. There were protests in various corners of the country on this issue including blockade at the regional centers of UGC. The move to scrap non-NET fellowships for the researchers in central university is a clear sign of further commercialization of education and framing its character more discriminatory. 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.
•SFI warns any such move to rob fellowships of the students and researchers will be resisted at any cost. SFI demands the non-NET fellowships should be enhanced to 8000 and 12000 for M.phi and Ph.d respectively and it should be expanded to all researchers in India.