15th All India Conference of SFI Concludes Successfully in Sikar
651 delegates and observers representing the 43 lakh students of the country assembled in the Kana Ram Nagar of Sikar to participate in the highest forum of the biggest contingent of the democratic students’ movement in the country. Conferences are not rituals for an organisation like ours. These are occasions to analyse our performance in the light of the tasks set by the last conference, identify our strengths and weaknesses and subsequently chart out the future tasks for the organisation, as well as, devise means to achieve it. All this, obviously cannot be done without taking into account the developments in education in this period, the political developments, status of the student movement, so on and so forth.
Proceedings of the conference began with the hoisting of the flag of SFI by V Sivadasan, president. As the white flag with the red star unfurled, entire venue was filled with thunderous slogans in various languages.
A presidium comprising of V Sivadasan, Abid Hussain, VP Sanu, Priyanka Sarkhel, P Uchimakali and Jyoti Thakur; resolutions committee comprising of Vikram Singh, Sunand, Nirangkush Nath, Nageshwar Rao, Jaick C Thomas, Khadeejath Suhaila K and Mayukh Biswas; credentials committee comprising of Debajyoti Das, Suresh Sarwal, Muhammad Afzal and Dipsita Dhar; and minutes committee comprising of Datta Chavan, Radhika Khabare, Manav Pradeep, Pawan Beniwal, Prashant Mukherjee and Satarupa Chakraborty was elected to conduct the proceedings of the conference. Apart from this, all other members of the central secretariat were part of the steering committee.
Renowned journalist P Sainath inaugurated the conference. Sainath, who was himself an SFI activist in JNU in the 70s, outlined the challenges for the students’ movement under the current regime. He said that today’s regime is characterised by the union of religious, social conservatism on one hand and the market conservatism on the other. He also pointed to the socio-economic background from which the Rohith Vemulas of India come and that it is the responsibility of the organisations like SFI that education remains accessible for students from such backgrounds.
Sitaram Yechury, former all India president of SFI, also addressed the inaugural session. He said, “It is the responsibility of the present generation of SFI to identify the correct slogans for the movement, as their generation did during the 70s. The question of building organisation in the private institutions should be the main challenge in front of the conference.”
General Secretary, Ritabrata Banerjee, presented the draft political-organisational report on behalf of the outgoing central executive committee. The tone and tenor of the report was self-critical, but at the same time, it also identified the challenges and areas of expansion. Some of the foremost among these are: Building organisation among the private institutes, strengthening the work in the university centres, starting work among the school students (particularly in the Hindi states, where we have no school organisation) etc. Two other documents- one on the state of education and the other on the state work reports were also circulated along with the draft pol-org report.
13 resolutions were adopted by the conference. These included : resolution on global economic crisis and the assault on education; against neoliberal academic reforms; in defence of campus democracy; against saffronisation; on the issue of students from the North East region studying outside their home states; on central institutes and central universities; on the issues of girl students; in defence of social justice; on building organisation in private institutions; on LGBT rights; in solidarity with the ongoing HCU students’ agitation; on non-NET fellowship and the resolution on the North East region. Apart from this, a constitutional amendment was also adopted by the conference, which says that: “Students studying in any educational institute will pay 2 rupees and 2 $ in case of overseas students, as the membership fees.” Members had to earlier pay 1 rupee as the membership fee.
A special session of the former leadership of SFI was held on the third day of the conference in which MA Baby, Nepaldeb Bhattacharya, Nilotpal Basu and P Krishna Prasad participated.
A special session on “Communalism” was organised on the third day, in which Teesta Setalvad was the speaker. Besides this, a special session of fraternal Left-led students’ organisations was held, in which Vishwajeet Kumar (general secretary, AISF), Ashok Mishra (general secretary, AIDSO) and Farhan Ahmad (vice-president, AISA) participated. It needs to be noted that SFI has been working towards united initiatives of the students’ organisations. National convention of five students’ organisations was held in July last year and we are confident that the unity will be materialised into concrete actions and movements.
52 delegates spoke on the draft report. This included 46 from states and other six from various sub-committees. The discussion from the delegates enriched the report. The direction of most of the discussions was constructive, even though there was sharp criticism of the failures and weaknesses of the leadership.
The conference elected a 93-member central executive committee, with nine vacancies. The newly elected CEC in its first meeting elected the following central secretariat: VP Sanu (president), Madhuja Sen Roy (vice-president), Nilonjana Roy (vice-president), Sheikh Noor Mohammad (vice-president), P Uchi Makali (vice-president), one vacant for Kerala (vice-president), Vikram Singh (general secretary), Debajyoti Das (joint secretary), M Vijin (joint secretary), B Samba Siva (joint secretary), Gururaj Desai (joint secretary), Mangej Chaudhary (joint secretary), Mayukh Biswas (joint secretary), Datta Chavan (central secretariat member), Suresh Sarwal (central secretariat member), Khadeejath Suhaila K (central secretariat member), Sunand (central secretariat member), Dipsita Dhar (central secretariat member), one vacant for HP (central secretariat member), one vacant for Rajasthan (central secretariat member) and one vacant for Kerala (central secretariat member).
The 15th conference of SFI has set new targets for which the organisation will have to reorient itself. These include crossing 50-lakh membership, building organisation in the North-Eastern states, strengthening the unit functioning etc. The organisation will leap towards these targets with renewed energy, zeal and conviction.