AISA successfully completed its 8th National Conference on 10-11 May 2015 in New Delhi.
The Conference started on the historic day of 10th May. On 10th May, 1857, began India’s First War of Independence against the British colonial ‘Company Raj’. Uniting across religion and caste, the ordinary people of the country fiercely resisted the British Raj serving the East India Company. Fighters of the 1857 Ghadar inspired Bhagat Singh and his comrades later. Bhagat Singh always warned that the fight for freedom was not only against the British (gore angrez), but against the Indian rulers as well (bhure angrez) who would continue the anti-people, repressive and pro-imperialist policies. The relevance of Bhagat Singh’s warnings is becoming clearer every day. Today, the Modi Government in so many ways has become the new Company Raj: with the land grab bill, pro-corporate labour law ‘reforms’, sell-out of India’s sovereignty and people’s security through ‘Indo-US nuke deal’ and rewriting of Patent rules at the behest of US corporates and so on.
In the sphere of education, a slew of disastrous moves have been initiated like the Central University Act, CBCS, RUSA, rampant saffronisation in syllabus and appointments and curtailment of academic freedom and campus democracy.
All avenues of stable, dignified employment are being dismantled. In the name of ‘Make in India,’ there is an all-out attempt to unmake country’s plural, democratic fabric and our collective future.
In such a backdrop, the call of the 1857 fighters resonates again for Indian citizens today. This is why AISA held its 8th National Conference on 10th May 2015 with the call – ‘10th May Calls Us to the Fore – Company Raj No More’ and the resolve to build nationwide movement to fight the Modi govt.’s policy offensives, particularly in the field of education and employment.
The Conference resolved to build nation-wide movement against CBCS, Central University Bill, RUSA, binding commitments to WTO, Lyngdoh Committee recommendations and attacks on campus democracy.
Around 300 delegates from 15 states and UTs participated in the national conference. The inaugural session was addressed by Com. Dipankar Bhattachrya, Gen Sec, CPI-ML; Prashant Bhushan, Activist and Supreme Court Lawyer; Nandita Narain, President, DUTA and FEDCUTA; Com. Kavita Krishnan, Sec, AIPWA; Com. Ashok Mishra, Gen Sec, AIDSO, Com. Vishwajeet, Gen Sec, AISF; Com. Sunand, Delhi State Sec, SFI and Com. Ishan, Gen Sec, DSF.
DUTA President Nandita Narain said that the proposed CBCS was just FYUP in another form, and should be opposed by another movement on the scale of the anti-FYUP movement. She underlined the fact that the blueprint of privatisation of education was put in place by the previous UPA government,
and is now being aggressively pursued by the Modi government. Pointing out that various Indian governments are following WTO diktats to declare education as a ‘tradeable commodity’, she added that the script of selling out education is being written globally.
Human rights advocate Prashant Bhushan also addressed the conference and said that sycophants and ideologues of the RSS are being placed at the head of all the institutions of our country. All dissent is being curbed and activists are being hounded. Prof Saibaba who is 80% disabled is denied bail, while Salman Khan who has been clearly convicted is granted bail immediately, he added.
CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, addressing the conference, noted that the conference was being held on the anniversary of the historic 1857 war of independence against the colonial British rule. He said that the significance and relevance of 1857 is all the more relevant now, when the ruling government is hell-bent on instituting a new form of ‘Company Raj’ and carrying forward the British legacy of divide and rule. Kavita Krishnan welcomed the conference on behalf of AIPWA as well as the All India Peoples’ Forum (AIPF), and said that students have a historic role to play in challenging the ideological assaults of the ruling powers. “Today, the likes of Dinanath Batra try to tell us that it is ‘anti-national’ to blow candles and cut a cake on one’s birthday, while it is perfectly patriotic to deny Indian students the right to a decent, quality and affordable education! They try to tell us that it is ‘women’s empowerment’ to prevent women from marrying men of their choice – the entire patriarchal and communal Love Jihad campaign is being run in the name of protecting women’s rights. In such a situation, it is students and youth who can play a very crucial role in redefining the meaning of ‘nationalism’, and women’s rights”, she said.
Throughout the two days’ long deliberation, the delegates emphasised the need to build up a strong movement against the recent policy offensive on education by the central government. Along with 23% budget cut in school education and 8% budget cut in higher education, the Modi government is up in arms to sell out academic autonomy, quality and accessibility to corporate interest. Far from ensuring free and universal KG to PG education, the central government’s recent policies on education will only ensure destruction of quality of education, compromise academic autonomy and roll out red carpet for corporate interests.
The conference resolved to build up movement along with other like-minded forces to ensure universal quality education and resist the recent policy offensives.
The conference also recognised that the student movement at this juncture has twin responsibility of student-youth’s right for universal, equitable, inclusive and quality education, dignified employment as well as defending country’s sovereignty and secular fabric against the steady sell-out to corporate and imperialists interests and communalisation of India’s body polity.
The new National Team: The conference elected a National Council of 115 members, a National Executive of 57 members and a 10 member National Office-Bearer team. Com. Ajit, Com. Saikat, Com. Abhilasha and Com. Sunil have been elected as the National Joint Secretaries of AISA. Com. Farhan, Com. Rinki, Com. Ranjeet and Com. Ranajoy have been elected as the National Vice-Presidents of AISA. Com. Sucheta has been elected as the National President and Com. Sandeep Saurav has been elected as the National General Secretary of AISA.