Resolution on The Tasks and Orientation of the Student-Youth Movement

7. The agenda of education, health, employment, adequate availability of opportunities in diverse fields of life, affirmative action for students and youth from remote areas and disadvantaged social, cultural and economic backgrounds, and freedom of choice and freedom from fear is central to the healthy and balanced development of India’s children and young people. Yet these are the most neglected aspects in India’s corporate-driven imperialist-dictated development strategy. The result is a huge reserve army of unemployed people, abundant supply of cheap labour in the Indian labour market and constant assured flow of skilled labour and professionals to foreign countries to fulfil the needs of global capital (brain drain).

8. Instead of ensuring universal quality education for all, and using education as a tool for rapid and comprehensive human development, the ruling classes are using education as a tool to reinforce and reproduce inequality in the society by all possible means. Whether we talk of quality primary education or higher education, especially in specialised areas like medical sciences and various avenues of technology, commercialisation and privatisation of education is the order of the day. While anarchy is allowed to prevail in most government-run educational institutions where teachers and educational facilities are always in short supply, private coaching centres are mushrooming across the country. The entry of foreign universities in India will further strengthen this trend of commercialisation and privatisation, turning higher education into an elitist preserve.

9. The so-called Right to Education Act passed by the UPA Government has in fact institutionalized the trend of privatization of education that makes good quality schooling unaffordable for poor students. In higher education also, the UPA Government has introduced a set of Bills that attempt to facilitate corporate takeover of higher education, freeing private and foreign players of regulatory frameworks and any obligations towards social justice. State governments have also begun to legislate laws for the setting up of private universities. The Four Year Undergraduate Programme being imposed in Delhi University in the face of resistance by educators and students alike, is another indicator of the ruling class agenda of integrating India’s higher education with the American model, while institutionalising the tendency of economically and socially deprived students to drop-out of higher education.

The student-youth movement will have to fight hard for the reversal of the policy of privatisation and to secure universal right to affordable quality education through a common school system and to keep higher education within the reach of students from rural, working class or lower-middle class backgrounds. Parents and general people should also be involved in struggles against hikes in fees of private schools and highly inadequate quota for poor students. In colleges and universities, struggles should be intensified against fee hikes and for facilities like hostels, libraries and laboratories.

10. The systematic policy of communalising and saffronising education poses a serious challenge to the student movement, especially in BJP-NDA ruled states. Moreover, even in universities in the metropolises, the communal outfits have, through violent protests, succeeded in censoring the syllabus, thanks to the shameful surrender by educational establishments and non-BJP Governments. Prominent instances include the withdrawal of Rohinton Mistry’s novel Such a Long Journey from the Mumbai University syllabus and withdrawal of AK Ramanujam’s seminal essay Three Hundred Ramayanas from the Delhi University syllabus following violence by the Shiv Sena’s youth wing and the ABVP. The student movement must offer robust resistance to every attempt at saffronisation and censorship, whether by Governments or communal outfits. In addition, the student movement must also struggle to ensure that syllabi and pedagogic practices, as well as the ethos of schools and higher education institutions, are socio-culturally and linguistically inclusive. The student movement must also strive to uproot deeply-entrenched class, caste, and gender discrimination in the educational structures.

11. While trying to keep large numbers of students away from higher education, the ruling classes are also trying their best to curb campus democracy and deny students their basic democratic right to elect their unions and have their say. Regular elections are not held in many universities – for