Wednesday, 29 August 2012

SFI Pamphlet dated 29 August 2012

Over the past three days, we have been witness to the AISA – the student outfit of an insignificant sectarian left force in the country – making tall claims regarding the “achievements” of the Students’ Union they have been leading. The biggest of these claims is that the issue of discrimination against students from deprived sections and backward regions in the viva voce for entrance examinations has been addressed “for the first time in JNU’s history”. They claim that in the past forty years, unions led by SFI-AISF have not addressed this issue at all. This is nothing but a blatant falsification of history.

The legacy of SFI-AISF-led unions in the fight for a socially just, inclusive admission policy

Way back in 1972-73, the JNUSU advocated a new admission policy which would enable students from poorer backgrounds and backward regions to enter JNU. It was the first major struggle led by the JNUSU, and it resulted in a path-breaking admission policy being adopted by the university, according to which weightages were given for students from deprived socio-economic backgrounds and those hailing from backward regions. Student-faculty committees (SFCs) were also set up with elected students in each centre.  During the term of the 1973-74 union, the admission procedure was regularised with the students having a say through the SFCs, which would scrutinise the entrance tests and finalise the results. Members from the SFCs used to be present when the viva voce was held to ensure that discrimination or harassment did not occur. A very important upshot of this admission policy was that the representation of students from the deprived sections was more than the proportions mandated by the Constitution later on. We believe that any genuine effort to prevent social discrimination in the viva voce must entail not only the reduction of the weightage given to viva voce, but also bringing back the role of the SFCs in sitting through the viva voce.
It was the alarm of the ruling classes in the increased empowerment of the deprived sections that led to the scrapping of the Old Admission Policy in 1983, when there was a brutal police crackdown on student activists in an attempt to break the back of student militancy, and the university was closed down sine die.
And yet the AISA, which was born in the crucible of the notorious anti-Mandal agitation, shamelessly claims that in the forty years of its activism in the campus, SFI has been oblivious to the concerns of SC/ST/OBC/PH students in this campus. In fact the AISA’s failure in ensuring the timely and correct implementation of OBC reservations in JNU is consistent with their positions over the years. Vinod Mishra, the then General Secretary of the CPI-ML Liberation (AISA’s parent party) had written in 1990: “Just as we do not approve of those politicians who want to take revenge on the present-day progeny of Babar, we also reject those theoreticians who would punish the present-day offsprings of Manu for the crimes of their ancestors.” (CPI(ML) Liberation Central Committee’s Message to the IPF Rally held on 8 October 1990, Liberation, November 1990, He continued in a similar vein: “Students and youth, particularly in and around Delhi, felt badly betrayed by a man (VP Singh) on whom they had reposed great faith... Instead, they found in him a scheming politician who was robbing them of whatever little job opportunities that were there.” ("The Fall of VP Singh and After", Liberation, January 1991, This is exactly the logic that the casteist Youth For (In)Equality had given while opposing OBC reservations – that reservations mean robbing the youth of their opportunities in education and employment. Kavita Krishnan, then the National President of AISA, had said after her organisation’s victory in the JNUSU elections in 2007, “AISA did not press for a pro or anti stand on quota” (interview given to the Times of India, September 7, 2007).
We appeal to the student community to remain vigilant against the devious politics of the AISA and to unite in the continuing fight for a socially just and equitable admission policy.
Subin Dennis, Viswanathan V, Rajeev Raushan (For the SFI Unit Organising Committee, JNU)

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