People's Democracy

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


No. 02

January 13, 2013







Godavari Shamrao Parulekar College: New Building Inaugurated

B A Rajput


ON December 27, 2012, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and leader of the party in parliament, Sitaram Yechury, inaugurated the 30,000 square foot, three-storeyed new building of the Comrade Godavari Shamrao Parulekar Senior and Junior College of Arts, Science and Commerce, in brief the GSP College. The college is running in the predominantly adivasi tehsil of Talasari in Thane district for over a quarter century, since 1985.


The inaugural programme which was held on the day also commemorated two other happy events.


The first was the completion of golden jubilee year of the Adivasi Pragati Mandal (APM), the educational institution founded by Shamrao and Godavari Parulekar in 1961 in the presence of two stalwarts of the progressive movement in Maharashtra – Balraj Sahni and Acharya P K Atre. The specific purpose of establishing the college was the spread of education among the adivasi population which was largely illiterate at that time.


The second was the completion of platinum jubilee (75th) year of the founder president of Adivasi Pragati Mandal, Lahanu Shidva Kom, a veteran leader of the CPI(M), a former MP and also a former MLA. Ever since the APM was set up 50 years ago, Lahanu Kom, with the help of other comrades, has made great efforts to set up schools, colleges and hostels for the benefit of the adivasi people. 


Three months ago, on October 10, Sitaram Yechury had inaugurated the new impressive office of the CPI(M)’s Thane district committee at Talasari, called the Comrade Godavari Shamrao Parulekar Bhavan. The foundation stone for this new office had been laid two years ago by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Tripura chief minister, Manik Sarkar. The party’s state committee meeting, held there three months ago, had then culminated in a massive 50,000-strong districtwide rally. (See report in People’s Democracy, October 15-21, 2012; Loklahar, October 29-04, 2012.)


The inaugural programme on December 27 marked the culmination of a three-day student cultural festival from December 24 to 26. In this festival, adivasi students of the schools, junior colleges and senior college run by the APM presented various cultural items in which they displayed their talents. The annual issue of the college magazine called Godavari, which had a number of good articles and poems written by the students themselves, was released at the function by Sitaram Yechury.    


Apart from the senior and junior college at Talasari, the APM runs schools and hostels for adivasi students in villages like Udhva, Vasa, Kochai and Vevji in Talasari tehsil and Ashagad in Dahanu tehsil. It also runs two junior colleges --- in Udhva and in Ashagad. The total student strength in all the APM-run institutions is 8000, and the total staff strength is 150. Over 90 per cent of the students in these schools, hostels and colleges are adivasis, and many of them are first generation learners.


Comrade Godavari Shamrao Parulekar Senior College is affiliated to the University of Mumbai, and it also runs a centre for the Yashwantrao Chavan Open University. The latter is of great help to many external students throughout the adivasi belt of Thane district. Apart from the three main streams of arts, science and commerce, the college runs special courses ranging from traditional Warli adivasi painting to modern computer science. Many other social and constructive activities include eradication of superstitions, water conservation, cleanliness campaigns, women’s empowerment, mass marriages to save expenses, health camps, educational improvement and so on. The GSP College has won a large number of awards and prizes at the university and inter-collegiate levels.


At the inaugural function, Sitaram Yechury warmly felicitated Lahanu Kom and the entire team of the Adivasi Pragati Mandal for the great efforts and the progress that they had made in providing education to the tribals who had always been deprived of it. He said that in the country as a whole, with the drive towards privatisation and commercialisation, education was being sold to the highest bidder. While, on the one hand, Indian youth with their intelligence and hard work were excelling in computer software in the most competitive places like the Silicon Valley, the youth in India were facing the grim prospect of unemployment on the other hand. Due to the government’s wrong policies, the great potential of our country was not being realised. He denounced the heinous attacks on women as seen in the gruesome Delhi gang rape case. Finally, he called upon the students and staff to retain and deepen their sensitivity, and to always stand firmly on the side of truth and justice, come what may.


The elegant function was presided over by CPI(M) MLA Rajaram Ozare, and addressed by CPI(M) state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale, Dr Arvind Burungale (secretary of the Rayat Shikshan Sanstha), veteran leaders Lahanu Kom and L B Dhangar, B V Mangat (secretary of the APM), APM managing committee member Hemlata Kom, B A Rajput (principal of the GSP College) and headmaster D M Wagdada. Students, staff and well-wishers attended the function in large numbers.