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

1. In the face of a deepening economic and social crisis and rapidly declining credibility and legitimacy of the ruling elite, we are once again witnessing very encouraging signs of a powerful student-youth movement across the country. The wind that started blowing in 2011 against corruption, corporate loot and growing collusion between big corporations and the ruling elite became a veritable storm by December 2012, erupting right in the national capital over the issue of justice for the 23-year-old paramedical student who was gang-raped and brutalised in a moving bus in Delhi and who died subsequently in a Singapore hospital. AISA and RYA, the flagship platforms of revolutionary democracy in the student-youth movement, have been playing a key role in mobilising the student-youth community in the ongoing struggles against corporate plunder and sexual violence and for the freedom of women.

2. The youth upsurge in Delhi (which soon spread to other parts of the country) which saw equal participation of both young women and men was the first instance of its kind when the issue of gender violence occupied the centre-stage of a massive and sustained campaign braving water cannons, tear gas and barbaric lathicharge. At a time when the ruling elite is waxing eloquent about the youth and its aspirations and reactionary political forces are desperately seeking to use the youth to serve their sectarian and anti-democratic political agenda, the independent assertion of youth power around key questions of democracy is a development of great revolutionary significance.

3. From Latin America to Europe, and from the Occupy movement to the Arab Spring, from Tahrir Square to the Shahabag protests, there is a powerful imprint of the youth on what can be termed a global awakening against neo-liberalism, imperialism and tyranny. Viewed against this international backdrop, the growing democratic assertion of the youth in India has delivered a big blow to the imperialist lie that the days of youth revolt were over and that bourgeois consumerism was the ultimate answer to the aspirations and dreams of the youth.

4. Naxalbari marked the first youth revolt in independent India rising in support of the peasant rebellion and propelled by the revolutionary dream of building a new democratic India. Just when the ruling classes thought they had crushed it, there came the second wave of youth upsurge in the form of the 1974 movement against corruption and autocracy. The ongoing student-youth awakening may well be termed the third major milestone in this series. Even though it may not yet have any explicit agenda of radical social transformation or political change, it certainly has the potential to grow into a powerful upsurge against feudal-patriarchal fetters, corporate-imperialist plunder and authoritarianism and state repression.

5. All these youth revolts highlight the essential features of
any vibrant youth movement – (i) the sensitivity of the youth to larger social and political questions, especially to the key agenda
of democracy, freedom, justice and social transformation, (ii) the
ability of the youth to forge a fighting unity transcending the barriers of caste, creed, language, culture and social status or background, and (iii) the indomitable spirit of resistance and refusal to bow to any unreasonable and repressive authority. While recognising the specific conditions and needs and aspirations of the youth faced with vastly different circumstances, we must never lose sight of the broader character of the youth movement.

6. In India’s official discourse the youth is invoked only as a demographic category. There is enough empty talk about India reaping demographic dividends thanks to her growing contingent of young people without ever really recognising the basic needs, aspirations and rights of the youth. The fact that half of India’s population is below 25 years of age and two-thirds of Indian people are less than 35 years and that consequently India has the world’s biggest contingent of youth cannot be treated as a statistical record to marvel at. The real question is how much is the country investing in its youth and what kind of opportunities are the youth getting to explore, express and develop their talent and enormous capacity.