January 01, 2023
Tripura: anashiksha Divas Observed With Great Enthusiasm

Arupratan Sarma

ON December 27, 2022, the 78th Janashiksha Divas was observed throughout the state with great enthusiasm under the leadership of Tripura Rajya Upajati Gana Mukti Parishad (GMP, in short) and the CPI(M). Large number of tribal and non-tribal people participated in the observance programme at various places across the state. During this programme, Party flag was hoisted along with hoisting the GMP flag, followed by paying homage to the great leaders, who spearheaded the ‘people’s literacy movement’ in the state, in the 40s and 50s. The central programme for observance of the day was held at the capital city of Agartala.

This day has got immense significance in the history of Tripura. On December 27, 1945 (11 Pousha of 1355 Tripura Era), Janashiksha Samity was formed by eleven bright and enthusiastic young students of the state. The objective of the Samity was to spread literacy through a mission for ‘people’s literacy movement’ among the tribal villagers deprived for ages of the ray of literacy and languishing under feudal exploitation of royal staff and village mahajans. At that time, literacy rate among the indigenous people was abysmally low, not more than a mere 10 per cent. During the rule of royal dynasty, there were high schools only in five towns, leaving the vast area without any touch of education. Eleven enthusiastic young students, among who were the leaders like Dasaratha Deb, Sudhanwa Debbarma, Hemanta Debbarma, Dinesh Debbarma, Bidya Deb Barma and others, established 488 schools within a year throughout the state. Rightly anticipating the threat against monarchy, the king’s men tried to throttle the organisation and nip it in the bud. But the adamant Janashiksha Samity leaders continued their mission defying the red eyes of the king’s rule. Gradually the Samity started raising demand for a democratic elected government. Naturally, it attracted the wrath of the monarchy which unleashed unprecedented repression to crash this movement. The king’s administration deployed thousands of police and army in tribal areas. Village after village was set ablaze and their food stocks burnt to ashes in search of Janashiksha Samity leaders. Under such a terrible situation, Gana Mukti Parishad (GMP) was formed in 1948 to raise a resistance force to save the villagers from the onslaughts of the monarchy. That marked the beginning of a people’s movement in the state with specific demands of democratically elected government, end of oppression and exploitation by royal forces and Mahajans, spread of education among the common people etc. Obviously, the formation of the Janashiksha Samity has got immense importance in initiating the people’s movement in the state.

The central programme to commemorate the day was held in the auditorium of Rabindra Shatabarshiki Bhavan at Agartala, organised by the central committees of GMP, TYF (Tribal Youth Federation) and TSU (Tribal Students’ Union). The hall was completely filled to its capacity by the participants coming from different parts of the city of Agartala and its neighbouring areas. Many people could not find seat in the hall and had to stand outside to listen to the discussion. The meeting was addressed by the GMP central committee president and CPI(M) state secretary Jitendra Chaudhury, senior GMP leader and CPI(M) Central Committee member Aghore Debbarma, CPI(M) Central Committee member Tapan Chakraborty and GMP general secretary Radhacharan Debbarma.

Jitendra Chaudhury, in his speech, narrated significance of the day in the current juncture. He mentioned that a campaign to malign the role of Janashiksha Samity and the GMP is already there in the state. Attempts to mislead the indigenous people of the state by distorting history, are going on. Such attempts are not new, and they existed since beginning; we only see a change in the name, the outfit and the slogan time and again in the attempts to distort history. Whatever be the outside change, their main agenda remains the same, that is to divert the indigenous people and its young generation from the path of progress and development. He mentioned that the royal dynasty never considered any development for the common people of the state, although there were some notable deeds done like recognition of the great poet and thinker Rabindranath Tagore as ‘Bharat Bhaswar’; extension of financial assistance to scientists like Acharya Jagadish Chandra Basu and Meghnad Saha.

Coming to the present situation, Chaudhury mentioned that the biggest enemy of the people today is the RSS and the BJP. Their poisonous concept of religious nationalism has resulted in enormous misery for the common people. After capturing State power, they are trying to manipulate history. This destructive force is now ruling our state too. During the last 58 months, they have set new examples of worst governance. While democratic rights of the common people are trampled on with ruthless viciousness, development works have been thrown in dustbin. Public money is being spent to further their party interests by organising public meetings which are practically turned into election meetings. Events like Sushashan Mela, rally etc are being organised by spending crores of public funds with an aim to serve their political interests. The message of Janashiksha Divas turns out very relevant in such a precarious situation. Common people, especially the young generation must be enlightened with consciousness, with a view to uproot the campaign of lie, deceit and fraud. We have to take a vow to defeat the RSS-BJP decisively in the coming days, he said.

Aghore Debbarma, in his address, exposed the hidden objectives of the New Education Policy (NEP). He clearly mentioned that this NEP can never ensure expansion of knowledge; rather it will push the coming generation to bigotry and communalism. He asked the people to resist the efforts of the current regime to enforce this NEP. He also exposed the Vidyajyoti scheme of the state government and said that the very aim of the scheme is to keep the poor students away from the enlightenment of education. Literacy rate among tribal people of the state could not have been increased at a high pace, had there been no Left Front government. Similarly, the socio-economic status of the tribal people has improved a lot, owing to the people-centric policy undertaken by the earlier Left Front governments. He called for ouster of the BJP-led misrule from the state with a view to restore it in the path of progress.

Tapan Chakraborty stressed upon the importance of education in shaping the life of the individuals as well as that of the society. He mentioned that the ‘people’s literacy movement’ conveys this message to us. The path of struggle of the stalwarts like Dasaratha Deb, Hemanta Debarma, Sudhanwa Debbarma was never an easy one. They had to fight back against the viciously oppressive regime to spread the ray of education among common people. The royal dynasty as well as the subsequent Congress governments was never keen to spread education among tribals. This noble task was initiated and taken ahead by the earlier Left Front governments. At present the governments of the centre and the state, driven by their class interests, are adamant to destroy the education in the whole country. With a view to fight back, all secular and democratic forces should join hands.

Radhacharan Debbarma called for reaching out to every individual with the spirit of ‘people’s literacy movement’ by mobilising people for serving the larger interests. He told that we must move ahead defeating all conspiracy and designs of the destructive forces.

The observance programme generated great enthusiasm among common people, especially the tribals to fight back the oppressive and anti-people regime.