The rule of the UPA-II government has seen the Indian State being reduced to nothing more than an instrument to facilitate primitive accumulation. While carrying out this basic function for the ruling classes is nothing new or surprising as far as a bourgeois-landlord state is concerned, what is unprecedented in the history of independent India is the brazen, naked fashion in which such accumulation has been taking place. From the 2G Scam, S-Band/Devas-Antrix scam, CWG Scam, the KG basin scam, Air India scam and the Airport land scam to the latest “Coal-gate” scam, the sheer number of corruption scandals that have hit the Indian firmament during this period is mind-boggling. The BJP, which is raising a hue and cry on many of these issues, had been responsible for a number of scams during NDA rule, from the ‘West End’ (Tehelka) exposé, UTI scam, Disinvestment scams (BALCO, Centaur Airport Hotel, Modern Foods) where precious public property was handed over to the private sector at throwaway prices, to the Telecom, Sugar and Stamp Paper scams, to give just a few examples. In the issue of the allocation of coal blocks itself, the BJP-led NDA government had sought to privatize coal allocation by bringing in legislation to that effect. As far as allowing private companies to loot coal reserves – a non-renewable natural resource which the State holds in public trust – is concerned, there is absolutely no difference between the BJP and the Congress. In short, the increasing loot of public resources is intrinsically linked to the paradigm of neoliberalism itself, whereby the changed form of state intervention allows the ruling classes to deliver illegitimate gains to themselves in a much easier fashion than earlier. The recent years from 2007 onwards have also seen an enormous increase in the prices of all goods (especially food items), which has led to a steep erosion in the living standards of the common people in the country. However, the assault by the ruling classes on the lives and livelihoods of the people has not gone unchallenged. From the struggle against Reliance’s Maha Mumbai SEZ and the struggle by the Maruti workers in Manesar to nurses’ struggles, unprecedented united actions by trade unions and agitations by students in various parts of the country against policies that seek to keep education out of the reach of the bulk of the young, tidal waves of popular struggles have begun to rise up to defend people’s lives and rights.
Viewed in this backdrop, the forthcoming JNUSU elections place before us the historic opportunity and responsibility to reiterate SFI’s commitment to defend and advance students’ rights and to carry forward the fight for an egalitarian social order free of the scourges of oppression in all forms.
Fight to re-establish the progressive character of our admissions policyOur fight for a socially just, equitable admissions policy has been facing renewed attacks from the administration. Even the constitutionally mandated implementation of the SC/ST/OBC/PH reservations has undergone dilution during the past few years under the AISA-led JNUSU. The struggle for the reduction of the weightage of viva voce marks in entrance examination has to be fought till victory. The struggle against social discrimination in the viva voce, however, will not stop there. Valuable lessons can be drawn in this respect from JNU’s Old Admission Policy which was in place till 1983, according to which the SFCs played an important role in preventing discrimination by sitting through the viva voce. The Equal Opportunity Office (EOO) may coordinate with the SFCs in this regard to ensure the latter’s presence in the viva voce. The EOO was set up as a result of the agitation led by the SFI-led JNUSU in 1998-99, with the mandate to deal with the problems of those hailing from deprived sections. It needs to be strengthened with elected student representatives in order to effectively deal with cases relating to discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, race etc. More Madrasas need to be recognised for admissions to BA. With regard to admissions and further, steps need to be taken to sensitise teachers and students on the need to advance the rights of the students in a holistic manner. This fight does not stop with admissions, but needs to be carried forward to providing an adequate support system to students. The system of remedial classes for English, Mathematics etc and the system of Bridge courses (for students belonging to the respective centres, but hailing from other subject backgrounds) must be revitalised by making them part of the regular time tables of the concerned centres, alongside routinely offered courses. Such classes should be held as much as possible in the respective Schools themselves so as to make them more accessible. The translation of basic reading materials into various languages should be arranged and they can form part of centre-level libraries. The EOO can play a crucial role in many of these. Measures must be taken to provide fellowships for first-generation learners to support their families back home, and the EOO must be sensitive and proactive to address individual and family calamities.
Build More Hostels! Beef up Infrastructure!! Appoint more teachers!!
The worsening accommodation crisis needs to be addressed on an immediate basis. More hostels have to be built to accommodate the increased number of students in the campus, and the administration has to be forced to commit to begin and complete the construction of new hostels in a time-bound manner. The JNUSU cannot casually remain satisfied with the promises of the administration – struggles which result in concrete written agreements need to be fought in this regard. It is time, once again, to learn from the legacy of the militant struggle led by the JNUSU in 1998-99 which forced the administration to build four new hostels. The construction of the various school annexure buildings must be completed in a time-bound manner. The Wi-Fi facility should be extended to hostels. The shortage of faculty must be addressed by recruiting more teachers. The contractualisation of non-teaching work needs to be arrested.
The MCM scholarships were increased to Rs. 1500 in 2006 after a valiant struggle by the JNUSU, and have not been increased ever since. The AISA-led JNUSU failed to even raise the issue of increasing MCM at a time when the country has been facing sky-high inflation. The newly elected JNUSU must ensure that the MCM scholarships are increased and linked to inflation.
Implementation of Sachar and Ranganath Mishra committee recommendations
The University must take steps to implement the recommendations of the Ranganath Mishra and Sachar Committee reports. The SFI in JNUSU would organise a workshop to discuss the modalities of the implementation of the relevant parts of these reports.
Defend and Strengthen GSCASH
The GSCASH needs to be strengthened and its democratic functioning must be ensured in order to effectively combat patriarchy. The full support of the JNUSU needs to be ensured to the GSCASH. The funds allocated to GSCASH should be increased and the infrastructure facilities available to it should be enhanced. The autonomy of GSCASH and its democratic character which has been ensured owing to its having elected members needs to be defended against intrusions.
Subin Dennis, Rajeev Kumar, Umesh OCo-Convenors, Central Campaign Committee, SFI
SFI Panel for JNUSU Elections
President - Kopal
Vice-President - Siddik R.
Joint Secretary - Samuel Philip Mathew
Najeeb V R
Nitheesh Narayanan K V
SAAAkhila Vimal C