Campaign for Student-Youth Rights

(The AISA and RYA have undertaken an intensive countrywide campaign for students’ and youth rights – for education and employment, and against corruption and corporate loot. Despite the summer heat, students and youth in many states have begun campaigning daily, holding street plays, street corner meetings, and distributing leaflets. The campaign will culminate in a March to Parliament in August. We bring you some highlights from the ongoing campaign, based on inputs from Anmol Ratan from Delhi; Ramayan Ram from UP; and Abhyuday from Bihar.)

Around 30 AISA activists of the three universities in Delhi – JNU, DU and Jamia Millia – began their campaign in the national capital on April 30, near the Patel Chest Hospital, near Delhi University’s North Campus. A street play prepared by students was staged, which exposed the nexus of the government with corporate, that results in massive scams, loot of natural resources for private profit. The street play shows how the exchequer is being looted to serve corporate, while, on the pretext of ‘fund crunch’, education is being privatised, and jobs with dignity are not being created. There was a good response to the campaign, with students signing a demand charter and taking AISA membership in large numbers.

The next morning, the campaign took place in the student locality of Gurumandi (near DU’s North Campus), with a door to door campaign in hostels, and staging of the street play in public squares. Throughout the campaign, the activists engaged students and young people in conversation about their own lives, problems, and views.

Similar campaigns have been conducted in Mukherjee Nagar and Nehru Vihar localities, where a large number of students stay, most of whom are aspirants preparing for government exams. Around 150 students and local people watched the street play in each of these places. In this first phase of the campaign, 700 signatures on the demand charter were collected, and 60 AISA members enrolled.

The campaign also took place in the Batla House locality near Jamia Millia Islamia campus. The response was positive, especially from students and youth, who showed an interest in interacting with campaigners on the issues of corruption, privatization of education, and lack of opportunities of dignified employment, that had been raised through the play and speeches by activists.

The campaign was also taken to Bersarai and Katwaria Sarai near the JNU campus, and in the working class localities of Wazipur and Mohannagar.

The activists found that in most localities, many of students and people recalled AISA from last year’s campaign against corruption and corporate loot.

In UP, the campaign is underway at Allahabad, Lucknow, Ghazipur, Ballia, Chandauli, Pilibhit, Faizabad, and Varanasi. Large numbers of students and youth have participated in the mass meetings organised in the course of the campaign. In Allahabad, there is widespread resentment against the Akhilesh Yadav Government’s move to introduce the CSAT system in the UP-PCS (State civil services) exam, making English and Maths compulsory. It must be remembered that the Mulayam Singh Government had earlier opposed compulsory English in schools, and making Mathematics compulsory makes it difficult for students from humanities disciplines to clear the civil services exam. AISA has taken the stand that it would be discriminatory to make these subjects compulsory until and unless a common school system ensuring the same level of affordable and good schooling for all, is established. In Allahabad, one of the main issues in the campaign is the opposition to the CSAT system. In Pilibhit, meetings have been attended by students from a rural background. Their main concern is the shortage of higher education opportunities. 23 lakh students pass intermediate exams every year in UP, while there are only 5 lakh seats in higher education courses. These students here raised the demand for more Government-run higher education institutions, more seats, and introduction of evening colleges.

In Bihar, the campaign has been initiated with cadre conventions and signature campaign at Patna, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga and other centres. Following the attack on dalit hostels in the wake of Brahmeshwar Singh’s murder, AISA-RYA activists are raising the issue through protests and campaigns all over the state. AISA is leading a protest against fee hike at Patna University. Plans are underway to take the campaign forward, demanding unemployment allowance and right to education from the state government.

AISA National President Sandeep Singh recently visited various centres of AISA’s work in Maharashtra (Nagpur, Nasik, Pune, Ahmednagar and Aurangabad), where AISA held cadre conventions, which made plans for the campaign in the state. In Bhind (Madhya Pradesh), and in various centres in Tamil Nadu, AISA comrades have begun the campaign, distributing leaflets and interacting with students, and the latter have responded warmly, signing the demand charter. In Jorhat (Assam), a student-youth convention was held with 100 participants, who then undertook the campaign in the state. The student-youth campaign has begun enthusiastically at Giridih and Hazaribagh in Jharkhand. RYA and AISA organised a workshop on the ‘Right to Education and Employment’ in Punjab.

Liberation Archive