AISA’s 4th All India Conference

“Challenge Globalization and Saffronization”

The 4th All India Conference of AISA was held at Allahabad on 21-22 August. 350 delegates from 10 states participated in the conference. Following an impressive student rally through the city, the conference was inaugurated at Allahabad University Students’ Union Hall, by the CPI (ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. (Text of the inaugural address was carried in our last issue-Ed.) Noted educationist Anil Sadgopal was the chief guest at the conference. The Conference was also addressed by the RYA Gen. Secy. Lal Bahadur Singh.

Theconference debated the changing nature of education, where education is fast becoming a means of class hegemony rather than of social mobility. Fee hikes, therefore, are not only the central issue of the student movement, but are the common concern of Indian society.

Apart from the issues of privatization of education and unemployment, the conference also discussed the phenomenon of militarization and communalization of the youth by the Hindutva forces, aided by a section of the media. It was observed that in its saffronization drive, the BJP govt. is appointing saffron elements in key academic posts, distorting linguistic history, and promoting an RSS monopoly over Sanskrit teaching, giving state patronage to obscurantism and scuttling the scientific, rational, basis of education.

The challenges of the campuses under saffron rule were discussed, especially the crackdown on campus democracy, and student unions. The conference took special note of the situation in private colleges where a virtual ban on student politics prevails. The changing composition and mood of the student community were also discussed, where not only poorer students and women are being priced out from campuses, but also students in relatively ‘elite’ courses paying very high fees in hope of getting jobs, are rapidly getting disillusioned. The conference debated the phenomenon of so-called “apoliticalism” or “careerism” of the present generation of students, and concluded that this was nothing but the pressure of the fearful unemployment.

The conference seriously discussed ways in which the gap between common students and the organized student movement can be bridged. It stressed the need to integrate various sections of the student community, including students in professional courses, women students, and students from socially backward backgrounds with the organization. Specific experiences of student movements were discussed in greater depth — the positive experiences of integrating initiatives on social issues with students struggles in Uttarakhand, where AISA has struggled against dowry killings and has participated in anti-liquor struggle, and has begun the practice of “go to the villages” campaigns; the experience of anti-fee hike struggles in UP over the last year, in the course of which AISA had some success in reviving work in colleges of eastern UP, and could initiate a joint platform of students-youth organizations. Such joint front initiatives will be pursued in future.

In Jadavpur university, AISA’s participation and leading role in a determined struggle against the left govt’s policies of privatization and fee hikes, in the face of SFI’s open attempts to “rationalise” fee hikes, was a new experience and generated enthusiasm.

The conference elected a 43-member national council, and reelected Sunil Yadav as General Secetary and Kavita Krishnan as President. The conference, accepting the task of defending our country’s sovereignty from imperialism and saffron fascism, took the challenge of building the largest and most militant student organisation of the 21st century.

--Kavita Krishnan