Shimla: The 16th All India Conference of the Students’ Federation of India held in Shimla from October 30 to November 2 and was attended by 655 delegates from 24 states. This is for the first time the all India conference of the SFI was held in Shimla and the second time that it is being held in Hindi heartland.
The slogan for the conference was ‘Save education, Save India and Defeat Communalism’.
The last conference was held in Sikar, Rajasthan. The conference was inaugurated by the All-India SFI President, VP Sanu. The student movement in Tripura and Bengal are going through a period of brutal repression.
The main venue of the delegate session was named ‘Abhimanyu Manch’, paying rich tributes to Maharajas College student Abhimanyu who was brutally murdered in Ernakulam in July. The flag march for the SFI All India conference had started from Abhimanyu’s village Vattavada on October 23. Abhimanyu’s father Manoharan handed over the flag to SFI state leaders.
The delegates were welcomed by CPI(M) MLA from Himachal Pradesh, Rakesh Singha and renowned journalist P Sainath followed by Professor R Ramkumar from TISS, Mumbai. P Sainath, in his speech, spoke about the blatant attempts of saffronisation and privatisation of education. He appealed to the students to unite, and fight against the social and economic fundamentalist forces.
The four-day conference also deliberated on the issue like cut in the grant for research, students elections, the policy of the government to close schools, drug menace and reservations and social justice in educational campuses.
The Students Federation of India (SFI) also emphasised on making a statewide push for LGBTQ rights on college campuses. Its plans to include mega-conventions, awareness campaigns, counseling family members and the provision of legal support.
In 2016, the Kerala SFI unit had included the option of “other gender” in its membership forms in Kerala. Later, it also launched a campaign giving membership to a transgender student. A member of the LGBTQ community was also elected as an SFI district committee member in Thrissur.
The ruling party at the Centre has failed to fulfill its promises. From adopting anti-students policies to trampling upon constitutional rights, the BJP-led government has worked towards destroying educational institutes ever since it came to power.
The toxic combination of ‘communalisation’ and ‘commercialisation’ have worsened the condition of the student community to an unprecedented level.
Attempts were made to turn all public funded premier higher education centers into factories to produce material for saffron political agenda, and the conference also had a serious discussion on the issues to be addressed in the days to come, especially keeping in mind the general elections slated for next year.
The SFI has been winning students union elections in the premier higher education institutions such as JNU, HCU, Pondicherry University, Kerala Central University etc.
There have also been significant victories in students union elections in states including Rajasthan and Assam, apart from the sweeping victories in Kerala and Tripura. The SFI also emerged as the single largest organisation in the first ever elections that took place in the Ambedkar University of Delhi.
The SFI conference elected a 93-member Central Executive Committee (with 9 vacancies), which in turn elected Mayukh Biswas as the new general secretary and V P Sanu as the president of the organisation.
The CEC also elected a 19-member central secretariat with two vacancies. The newly elected office bearers include Dipsita Dhar and Srijan Bhattacharya (elected as joint secretaries) and Pratikur Rehman (elected as vice president) among others.