At a time when educational institutions across the country are under attack and state sponsored forces are apparently trying to curtail academic expression in campuses, several students, activists, and academicians representing progressive student movements from different parts of the country have got together in Bengaluru on Saturday aiming to highlight series of issues plaguing the education sector.
Organised by All India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE), the two-day event All India Convention of Students’ Struggles-2017 (AICSS) aims to bring together scattered movements that fight the BJP-led central government for ‘commercialising’ and ‘privatising’ the education sector while condemning the excesses of right-wing forces in academic spaces, the organisers say.
The convention held at Shikshakara Sadana in Bengaluru saw members of a number organizations such as the All India Students Federation, Bahujana Student Organisation, Dalit Student Federation and many others are organising the event which has representations from several recent student movements that had the government on back-foot.
Apart from becoming a platform for serious discussions on the need for reforms in the education sector, the convention assumes significance as it brings together student political groups from like-minded ideologies together.
“There is a growing convergence of blue and red”, said Dr. Anil Sadgopal, an eminent educationalist, and Member Presidium AIFRTE, reflecting on the growing alliances between Ambedkarite and Leftist student outfits to fight the common Hindutva enemy.
Our country is facing a crisis and students have come together on a common platform to address itAnil Sadgopal, Educationalist
Referring to Bhagat Singh’s idea that study and struggle must go together, Sadgopal said the state is afraid of its own students and campuses like never before.
The grouping takes place at a time when an unprecedented student outburst have been emerging from campuses across the country. From dissenting voicer over banning the Periyar Study Circle at IIT Madras, uproar over the death of Dalit scholar- Rohit Vemula in University of Hyderabad, agitation over the appointment of a right-wing government nominee Gajendra Chouhan in Film and Television Institute Pune (FTII) and the ongoing issues in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) over disappearance of a student, campus in India have been in the spotlight like never before.
The Union Government had in June banned three documentaries that dealt with issues of students in different campuses.
Sadgopal further said he has observed a substantial growth in student outfits in India over the last three years while adding that students movements are not restricted to campus, but are reaching out to play a key role in the society.
Dr. Anand Tetumbde, progressive thinker and a member of AIFRTE termed occasion ‘historic’ and urged it to ‘grow as a movement to attack the growing Hindutva forces that are burning the ethos of democracy”.
He said at a time when neoliberal forces are joining fascist groups to polarize individuals into segments, the student community must unite to show the society a model.
Apart from series of panel discussions on education involving experts and participating students, the conventions brought out a declaration citing further strategies. A book on the history of the student movement was released during the convention.
Dontha Prasanth-former students union president representing Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) in University Hyderabad feels that “a new wave of student movement is emerging in India.”
“Students are creating a strong opposition to the government when opposition parties are failing,” said Prashant who was in the forefront in the Rohit Vemula agitation.
Commenting that the growing convergence of Ambedkarite and Leftists student outfits a good move, he cautioned that there must be a larger goal to the alliance than of fighting the common enemy.
While commenting that ‘joint struggle’ is important, he said the alliance will be for the ‘namesake’ if the groups don't resolve their own differences while attempting to come together.