Saturday, 25 September 2021

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s close confidante and former Gujarat MoS Home Minister Praful Patel was appointed as the administrator of Lakshadweep on December 5, 2020 following the death of erstwhile administrator Dineshwar Sharma. Since then, a series of policies have been introduced which threaten the traditional life and diversity of the people of the island, causing many grievances. Immediately after assuming responsibility, he relaxed the quarantine policies, and this unplanned, unscientific change in SOP resulted in a surge in Covid-19 cases which was 0 in 2020. Now Lakshadweep has reported over 6000 cases and 24 deaths.

The promulgation issued shows a disregard for the people, their choice of food and livelihood. Non-vegetarian food has been removed from the school food menu and a regulation criminalizing slaughter of cattle, transportation and trade of beef products has been introduced. Even slaughter of other animals will require prior permission. This is an attack on the people who depend on dairy and the growing of bovine as a means of livelihood. Neither the island community nor the local bodies on the island ever raised such a demand and they were never consulted during such regulations being framed. This also indicates misplaced priorities because preservation of marine biology is not even mentioned in the draft. It is important to note that 93% of the indigenous population is constituted by the Muslim community and therefore this is a direct onslaught on them.

The island which has the lowest crime in the country will soon see enactment of the Goonda act which is a ploy that will allow them to persecute anyone who protests against union government policies. Anti-CAA protesters were arrested earlier, after Praful Patel took charge. The Goonda act will further equip them to suppress resistance. A draft law to disqualify panchayat members with more than two kids has also been initiated. The administration has demolished the sheds used by fishermen for storing nets and other equipment on the grounds that they violated Coast Guards acts without prior notice. In a place where people primarily rely on fishing, this is a blatant display of antagonism. Around 300 contract and casual workers employed by government offices have been dismissed which is relied on by a good section of the population for livelihood due to lack of opportunities in the private sector. Mid-day meal cooks, physical education teachers etc. have been terminated along with the shutting down of 38 anganwadis. Additionally, they have lifted the restrictions on the sale of alcohol.

Under the guise of development, the has promoted large scale private tourism ventures and has proposed widening of road in a manner that will require demolishing of many houses and buildings. This is unnecessary as the number of vehicles on the island is low, and traffic is almost nil. The development projects proposed do not match the topography of the island and are against the mandate of the people. The Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 (LDAR) gives the administrator powers to remove or relocate islanders from their property, for town planning or any developmental activity; the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA), introduced in January 2021, under which a person can be detained without any public disclosure for a period of up to one year all raises widespread alarm. An attempt is also being made to sever the ties between the union territory and the state of Kerala by stopping freight transit through Beypore port in Kerala.

The Central Executive Committee of Students' Federation of India recognises the orders by the BJP administrator Praful Patel as authoritarian and anti-people. These steps must be viewed as attempts by a fascist regime to bring extreme control over the union territory with no respect for democratic desires of the people which is highly condemnable. We therefore urge everyone to stand with Lakshadweep and amplify their demands to put an end to Praful Patel’s tyranny!

Released by
VP Sanu (President)
Mayukh Biswas (General Secretary)

Visva-Bharati, the university founded by Rabindranath Tagore nearly a century ago, becomes prime target of saffron brigade in recent times.

Yesterday students of Visva-Bharati University gathered to protest against this saffronisation attempt. The university authority immediately started pressurising the protesting students to not hold any further demonstrations that might interrupt Amit Shah's visit on the next day. When the students refused to comply, Mamata Banerjee's state police put left student leaders Somenath Sow and Falguni Pan under house arrest. SFI condemns this outrageous act. We have always fought against saffronisation of educational spaces. No amount of intimidation is going to stop our struggle to protect the freedom of expression in educational institutions. SFI Central Executive Committee sends revolutionary regards to the comrades under house arrest.

VP Sanu (President)
Mayukh Biswas (General Secretary)

From Students' Federation of India, we would like to draw your attention towards the unabated cases of violence against women and the subsequent institutional failure in dealing with such cases in India. Apart from very low reporting rate and even lower conviction rate, all the bodies that were constituted to prevent sexual harassment have not been performing to its desired extent. For instance the status of 'Nirbhaya Fund' that has remained unused for years now, shows the apathy of Governments in implementation of the existing laws and mechanisms.

Daily news of rapes and cases of violence against women, marginalized and minority communities have now become the new normal. In last one month there have been at least 4 gang rape and subsequent murders which got enough media attention and there are many more. The recent incidents of rape against women have shaken the conscience of humanity, yet it has occupied the least priority of the authorities. The ruthless attack and humiliation to which women are exposed to, in this nation have chained them to their homes and patriarchal surroundings, snatching away from them the equal opportunity to take part in social movements and creative and productive growth of the country.

'Nirbhaya Fund' that was announced by the government in 2013 after widespread protest, to ensure the safety and security of women in India, has been an utter failure since the period of declaration. The ₹1000Cr allocation of 'Nirbhaya Fund' has been confined to mere papers, remaining untouched for one year after the announcement. The reports revealed that till 2019 around 90% of the sanctioned fund was not utilized and none of the states were reported to have used more than 50% of the fund.

This is a very serious concern with regard to where the country is heading towards. The negligence on the part of the Central Government is responsible for the addition of victims to the rape history of the nation. We urge for the change in circumstances by focusing more on the safety and security measures of women and children across the nation.

We are raising main demands:

1. Responsibilities have to be fixed for why and how the allocated funds remain unused, specially when cases of crime against women have drastically increased.

2. The funds need to be monitored by a high level parliamentary monitoring committee to avoid such situations in future.

3. There needs to be a public auditing of the Nirbhaya Fund with full transparency.

4. The funding in Nirbhaya fund needs to be increased.

Regards,

VP Sanu (President)
Mayukh Biswas (General Secretary)

The outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have destabilized the lives especially of those from economically weaker section of society. It has been seven months since locks put on higher education institutions and the normalcy of academic activities interrupted. The University Grants Commission has unofficially frozen the disbursal of Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) and Senior Research Fellowships (SRF) since July but the research activities are expected to be progressed incessantly. Thousands of research scholars have been going through a situation of worst crisis putting not only their work but their survival itself is at stake. The access to campus and institutional facilities have been disconnected and in such a scenario where they squeeze themselves out to keep their work pace up and to ensure their survival the no disbursal of fellowships adds fuel to the fire.

The central government had utilized the entire pandemic period to design anti-people policies and to architecture how they can be smuggled in under the veil of lockdown and pandemic. There have been zero investment of time and energy in planning to better the lives of downtrodden people worst affected by the pandemic and the consequent lockdown. Lacks of people had lost their sources of income and the lives of innumerable family are destabilized. Deferring fellowships at a time of huge financial crisis and mental agony is a double blow on research scholars as most of them depend solely on that income to carry out their research activities and also to survive. UGC has mandated a Senior Research Fellowship conversion meeting to further receive research fellowships on completion of three years of the research period. Under the current circumstances SRF conversion meetings have not been conducted and their fellowships are now being denied citing this as a reason. Meanwhile fresh applications had been called for and approved to receive PMRF fellowship.

It is shameful to have government that neither works towards strengthening the economy nor cares about judiciously allocating the available resources. Thousands of research scholars, who sweat themselves out day and night to solidify the intellectual and academic capital of the country is suffering out on the streets but the Central government is lavishing on advertisements and PR works. The government is parasitizing on the mental and academic wellbeing of the researchers and the working class of the country is a grotesque reality to deal with for the entire nation. The survival of thousands of brilliant young minds in the country is now on the verge of collapse. This situation has become another instance of the anti-student policies of central government which is defunding public education from the majority of bright and economically backward students who qualified UGC NET JRF and thus confining access to Higher Education only to
the rich people who could afford it.

Due to non-dispursal of the INSPIRE scholarship (released by the Department of Science and Technology), a student of Lady Sriram College under Delhi University was forced to commit suicide 4 days ago. The Students' Federation of India demands the immediate disbursal of all national fellowships and to continue the disbursal unfailingly every month.

In this regard the Central Executive Committee of SFI urges all the units to organise united protest demonstration demanding scholarships.

VP Sanu (President)
Mayukh Biswas (General Secretary)