People's Democracy

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


No. 37

September 15, 2013







Huge Rally Marks 23rd SFI State Conference




EXPAND and strengthen the public educational institutions; Curb the privatisation of education; Regulate private educational institutions; Stop foreign direct investment in education; Uphold the democratic rights in every educational institution.


These were the slogans which reverberated in the streets of Chennai city when tens of thousands of students raised them. They had come from all across the state of Tamilnadu to join a huge rally on August 22, 2013, marking the grand inauguration of the 23rd Tamilnadu state conference of the Students Federation of India (SFI). The conference was held in South Chennai on August 22 to 24.


The procession was flagged off by the SFIs all-India president Dr V Sivadasan and ended up with a public meeting at a ground which was named after Comrade Sudipto Gupta. Sitaram Yechury, a former leader of the SFI, was the chief speaker at the rally where the SFIs state and South Chennai district leaders also spoke.


In his address, Yechury highlighted the destructive effects of neo-liberal policies in general and on education in particular. He said there has been a frontal attack on the democratic rights of common people throughout the world, and students are no exception. In case of the students this attack has been two pronged. While there is an attempt to push the process of depoliticisation ahead and convince the youth to only adhere to their private self-interest, there has been an attack of democratic rights of the student community, he said.


Education, especially in the last decade, has been more and more centralised, privatised and commercialised in India, he added, and praised the SFI for taken up various issues facing the students. He said the SFI has been victorious to a considerable extent in its struggle against commercialisation and privatisation of education. He asserted that the young blood was roused for the achievement of their democratic rights at right time.


During the public meeting there were two important resolutions passed. Frequent clashes among the students in Chennai city colleges were not only a law and order issue; they were an issue closely related to lack of  basic facilities and violation of  democratic rights of the students inside the campuses, one of the resolutions pointed out. Another one is about the importance of mother tongue as a medium in education system.


On the second day, Justice K Chandru, a recently retired judge of the Madras High Court and former SFI leader of unified Chennai Chengalpattu district committee during the 1970s, inaugurated the general session of the conference. His speech was really thought provoking and impressive as he narrated his experience in organising students in various struggles at the formative years of the SFI.


The inaugural session started with the welcome address by Prof M Srinivasan, chairperson of the reception committee, and was presided over by K S Kangaraj, president of the Tamilnadu state unit of the SFI.


Following the inaugural session J Rajmohan, secretary of the SFI state committee, placed his report which described the struggles launched by the SFI in the context of the Right to Education Act and several other educational acts and policies which have been enacted by the state government. The report was discussed by the delegates, and their criticism and the demands were incorporated in it. The clarifications from the state committee were accepted and approved by the delegates. This showed the democratic space within the SFI.


A total of 22 resolutions were passed by the conference; these mostly concerned the goal of betterment of the contemporary education. These resolutions demanded compulsory education with proper allocation of seats in admission, increase in the number of government universities and colleges, betterment of the standard of balanced education, and protection of girl students from sexual harassment, among other things.


There was a special seminar during the conference on the issue of medium of teaching, asking that mother tongue must be given its proper place in the teaching-learning process. State leaders of the DYFI, AISF and teachers organisations participated in the seminar and also offered fraternal greetings.


The conference also felicitated figures from the film industry as well as activists working in various fields.


SFI all-India president Dr V Sivadasan and general secretary Ritubrata Banerjee also addressed the conference, urging upon the cadres of the Tamilnadu SFI to expand the organisation from its current membership of 2.5 lakh students to a new high and to intensify its struggles.


The conference elected a new state committee which in turn elected P Uchimakaali as state president and J Rajmohan as state secretary.


The conference made it clear that that there would be no halting point for the SFIs struggles and sacrifices until it achieves its dream of Independence, Democracy, Socialism.