People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 38

September 23, 2012


Taking Forward the Legacy of Ideas


S P Rajendran


Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number -

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you -

Ye are many - they are few.


A SPECIAL session and the concluding session of the 14th conference of Students’ Federation of India, which was held at Madurai, heard and reflected the clarion call of Percy Bysshe Shelly, the revolutionary poet, through the inspiring speeches of former SFI president Sitaram Yechury, MP, and SFI general secretary Ritabrata Banerjee.


The special session with the participation of former leaders of SFI, Biman Basu, Prakash Karat, Nepal Deb Battacharya, M A Baby, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotbal Basu, A Vijayaragavan, Sujan Chakraborthy and P Krishnaprasad, was held on September 6.


While addressing the delegates, Biman Basu, founder general secretary of the organisation, extended warm greetings and remembered his colleagues --- Comrades C Baskaran and Subash Chakraborty. "At that time, in the 1970s, the SFI started its journey with seven state units; now it has 23 state units," Biman Basu thus expressed his happiness.


He called upon the delegates to march forward with the very slogans of the movement "Study and Struggle" as well as to raise the flag of "Independence -- Democracy -- Socialism" more firmly.


In this address, former SFI president Prakash Karat expressed his happiness that the organisation has grown and extended to new areas and new sections of the students. “You are in the forefront in the fight against commercialisation. As a part of this fight, the struggle for the implementation of Right to Education Act and the struggle for right to access of education have to be taken forward," he said. He referred to the differentiation found in our country between two types of education --- one designed for the elite and privileged sections and the other for the rest of the people. He congratulated the delegates for their courageous struggles and the continuous victories in the student union elections in various states. He stressed the importance of organising the girl students while calling for more and more struggles and the development of cadres for the cause of strengthening the Left and democratic movement.


Sitaram Yechury condemned the trend of turning education into more of a privilege. “Today, education is becoming a tool to create an unjust society. It has become a tool to create two Indias in one country. Your slogan of ‘Independence, Democracy and Socialism’ is connected to the future of India and your struggles are linked to the future of this country,” he said while addressing the delegates at the special seminar. Stressing the need for waging an ideological battle against commercialisation and privatisation of education, Yechury said that it was time for the liberation of India from exploitation. “The SFI is known for innumerable number of sacrifices by its members. But our legacy is not only a legacy of sacrifices; it is also a legacy of ideas and a legacy of contributions.  ‘Jobs for all and education for all’ is the slogan and socialism is the ultimate answer for human liberation,” he said.


Earlier in the session, all former leaders were felicitated by the conference. Many books and posters were released.




In an open session organised by the reception committee of the conference at Sellur, Madurai, on September 6 evening, N Ram, former editor-in-chief of The Hindu, expressed concern that education was becoming more and more commercialised and turning into a business.


“Top corporate houses and industrialists are giving concept papers to the government and they are being implemented. It is all the worse with medical colleges where the fee for getting a medical seat runs into lakhs. On the one hand we have a shortage of doctors whereas on the other hand an artificial shortage of medical seats is being created,” he observed.


Ram said higher education must be affordable for ordinary people and its commercialisation must come to an end. Calling for vigorous social control over the whole education system, he said that reservation is very important for creating an equality of opportunity for all. “The SFI has been waging heroic battles on crucial issues and a bitter battle has to be fought if we are to win the goals,” he added.


Former SFI president and former education minister of Kerala, M A Baby, said that education must be liberated from the clutches of ‘tuition culture’ and plunder should be stopped.


K Balakrishnan, MLA, and other SFI leaders were among those who participated.




Next day, September 7, was the final day of the conference. Former SFI president K N Balagopal, MP, greeted the delegates. Ramela Chakraborthy, wife of late Comrade Subash Chakraborty, and R Narayanan, were also felicitated and they addressed the delegates. Both were members of the consultative committee for the formation of SFI in the 1970s.


Earlier, DYFI president P Sri Ramakrishnan, STFI general secretary K Rajendran and CITU secretary K K Divakaran greeted the conference.


At the end of its proceedings, the conference adopted an organisational report after the general secretary Ritabrata Banerjee’s reply to the nine-hour long discussion by delegates. In his reply, in the wake of huge victories of SFI in various states, he stressed on the need of consistent struggles to press the government to conduct student union elections in each and every school, college and university. He praised the West Bengal as well as Kerala unit of SFI for their valiant struggles even though the governments of these states have unleashed cruel attacks on the SFI. In particular, Banerjee pointed out that the West Bengal conference of SFI has resolved to hit the roads and to face courageously the semi-fascist attacks on the movement and on campus democracy. He referred to the developments in the Jawaharlal Nehru University and warned that nobody could be allowed to disrupt the SFI and that the organization would keep its banner firmly high.


The conference elected a new CEC consisting of 83 members and the new committee, in its turn, elected V Sivadasan as president and Ritabrata Banerjee as general secretary along with 14 other office bearers.


At the conclusion of the session, the relieved leaders of the SFI were felicitated, with the entire conference giving them a warm and emotional farewell. They included Parayamparambil Kuttappan Biju (P K Biju) who was relieved as the president. For the last 26 years, from the age of 12, P K Biju served the organisation as a dedicated cadre. The conference saluted him while he told the conference, “relieving from the SFI is inevitable; but the journey would continue in the very cause of the downtrodden.”


The conference also thanked the reception committee while B Vikraman thanked the delegates on behalf of this committee.