December 04, 2022

Hyderabad to Host 17th all India Conference of SFI

V P Sanu

HAVING been chosen as the venue of the 17th all-India conference of the Students’ Federation of India, Hyderabad becomes the first city to host the highest conference of SFI two times in history. The land of the heroic Telangana uprising was the venue of the 12th all-India conference, held in 2005. The 17th conference will take place from December 13 to 16 at Osmania University. This all-India conference is happening after four years since the completion of the 16th conference in Shimla in November 2018. The conference was delayed a year due to the pandemic. Despite the unprecedented developments and challenges which marked the last four years, SFI marches to its all-India conference with greater strength and higher confidence. 720 delegates, including the CEC members, will attend the conference representing 23 states and international units. Representatives of student and youth movements in Cuba and Bangladesh will also greet the conference. 

Progressive student movements have always been vigilant toward the pressing issues of the time. This tradition could be traced to the period of anti-colonial struggle which actually produced the organised student movement in the country. Therefore, the political slogans and organisational engagements of the progressive student movement have always been shaped by its creative engagements and courageous struggles. This time, SFI has decided to mark the conference with the slogan, ‘educate all, employ all, unite all’. The conference slogan is self-explanatory of the priorities of the student movement.

India remains a country where about 45 per cent of students are pushed out of education before entering higher secondary. The gross enrolment ratio in higher education is less than 30 per cent. Of every 30 students entering higher education, 20 are enrolled in private institutions. The pandemic escalated the situation, with more students, most of them from deprived sections including girl students never being able to get back to their studies. A robust public education system is the primary requisite for making education accessible to all. If we take even a cursory look at those who remain at the margins of the education system and who have been forced to drop out before completing their course or reaching higher education, we can see that a huge number of them belong to the deprived sections.

Unemployment is rising sharply. There are eight lakh vacancies in central government departments. Thousands of jobs are being lost due to the privatisation of every public sector undertaking. There is unemployment and also under-employment. The task before the democratic and progressive movements in the country is to unite all sections to wage an intensified struggle against the oppressive regime. SFI underlines the role the student movement has to play in this process of building united struggles.

The organisation is moving towards the conference with the experience of successfully organising the all-India jatha, which has travelled through 22 states and interacted with tens of thousands of students. The receptions received by the jatha proved that the campuses have not severed ties with the SFI despite being closed for nearly two years due to the pandemic. This was also a recognition of the activities SFI organised among the students whose education suffered during the pandemic.   

The education system was clearly under attack by the union government. By introducing the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) the union government aimed at the commercialisation and communalisation of the education system. Though the campuses were closed, we successfully created campaigns against the NEP and its repercussions. Even when mass mobilisation was not possible, SFI conducted local-level, decentralised campaigns across the country. SFI called for protests against each and every anti-student policy. Tamil Nadu witnessed a massive movement against the NEET exam, initiated by SFI and later taken up by the common masses. In Andhra Pradesh, SFI’s protest against the merging of schools received mass acceptance among parents across the state. We fought tooth and nail against every injustice.

SFI conducted its Gujarat state conference after 33 years a few days ago. Instead of conducting a conference with a few students and going down, we waited for almost six years, building the organisation across cities and villages in Gujarat. We built the organisation in Gujrat step by step, brick by brick. The organisation in Gujarat has grown in such a manner that our comrades posed a ‘threat’ to the right-wingers and they were kidnapped by right-wing goons several times. The student movement in Jammu and Kashmir was also able to grow exponentially. We are delighted to share that, now we have very active cadres across J&K despite the continuing state repression, particularly after the abrogation of article 370.

The conference will begin with a massive student rally and subsequent public meeting on December 13 morning. Founder vice president of SFI and former chief minister of Tripura will inaugurate the public meeting which will be held at Mallu Swarajyam Nagar. The delegate session will be inaugurated by noted civil rights activists, Teesta Setalvad and Justice K Chandru on the same day at Dheeraj-Aneesh Khan-Abhimanyu manch at the Osmania university.

November 30 was observed as flag day. The SFI flag was hoisted in units across India and also at the all-India centre. The jatha with the flag to be hoisted at the beginning of the conference will start from Idukki Engineering College, Kerala, the campus of martyr comrade, Dheeraj Rajendran who was killed by NSU(I)-Youth Congress criminals. Sachindev MLA, all India joint secretary of SFI will lead the flag march which will travel through different districts in Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh before entering the host state, Telangana. ‘Education or Exclusion? The Plight of Indian Students’, a book edited by Nitheesh Narayanan and Dipsita Dhar and jointly published by Student Struggle, Indian Researcher, and LeftWord will be released. This book reveals the dangerous master plan of NEP 2020, which seeks to transform the educational system from pre-primary to research levels. The book consists of articles and interviews with notable scholars, activists, and young researchers on various aspects of NEP. The cover of the book was released by SFI members across the country through their social media platforms. A special issue of Student Struggle, the journal of SFI will also be released at the conference. Former leaders and leaders of fraternal organisations will greet the conference. There will also be a session of left student organisations.

Whether it be the Anti-CAA-NRC movement or the farmers’ protest, SFI was on the ground with the common mass fighting for their rights. We continue to connect with the pulse of the common citizens of this country against the anti-people Modi regime. During this fight, since the last all-India conference, we lost two of our brave comrades- Comrade Abhimanyu from Alappuzha in Kerala who was stabbed to death by RSS extremists, and Comrade Dheeraj from Idukki Government Engineering college, Kerala, who was murdered by NSUI-Youth Congress hooligans. We will ensure that the sacrifice of our martyrs will not go in vain. The conference will be the venue where we take inspiration from our martyr comrades and intensify our struggles in the coming days to achieve the dreams of those beloved fighters.