Comrade Vijender Sharma, veteran leader of the University and College Teachers’ movement, passed away on 9 August 2014 after bravely battling cancer for over eight months. He was 63. His demise is an irreparable loss to the left and democratic movement and the University and College Teachers’ Movement.
Com. Vijender began his political activity as a student in Delhi University and became a member of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) in the early 1970s. He was also associated with the Research Scholars Association in Delhi University. He joined the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in 1974 and was member of the Delhi State Committee of the CPI(M) since December 2001 and that of the CPI(M) State Secretariat from November 2004 up until his death.
Com. Vijender did his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Delhi University and became a lecturer in ARSD College in 1976. He was awarded Ph.D. by the University of Delhi in 1977. He later pursued law and completed his LLB degree in 1985 from the University of Delhi.
Com. Vijender’s name is synonymous with the teachers’ movement in Delhi University. He was one of the Conveners of the Temporary Teachers’ Forum and led a difficult struggle in 1978-79 that resulted in almost 700 temporary teachers being regularized. He was an elected member of the Executive Committee of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association from 1987 to 1989; member of the Academic Council from 1990 to 1994; President of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association from 1995 to 1997 and member of the Delhi University Executive Council from 2002 to 2006. In all these capacities he made a seminal contribution towards advancing the rights of university and college teachers.
An excellent trade-unionist, Com. Vijender was a fearless militant. But he did not thrive on slogans alone. Rather his forte lay in the in-depth study of different issues and challenges facing the education system as a whole in the backdrop of the impact of neo-liberal policies. His incisive analysis of such challenges was of great use not only to the teachers’ movement in Delhi University but outside it as well. He was in regular touch with the leadership of the All India Federation of University and College Teachers' Organizations (AIFUCTO) and teachers’ associations of different universities and provided them with whatever inputs and help he could without any hesitation.
He was a convinced Marxist-Leninist. This helped him seek truth through concrete study of facts. It also gave him the courage to fight all that is wrong and oppressive not just in education but in life in general. He was associated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions all-India Centre in the late 1970s and early 1980s and helped in the publication of the CITU’s journal the Working Class. This experience helped steel his resolve and partisanship. His life was a classic example of an intellectual born in a middle class family devoting his entire life to the working class movement. At a time when international finance capital is using commoditized education to create its own foot soldiers, Com. Vijender’s life is a pointer to the importance of organic intellectuals of the people.
Comrade Vijender’s was a life full of struggle and courage in adversity. He was an extraordinary leader of the University and College Teachers’ movement and the left and democratic movement, and a conscientious human being. He will be remembered and sorely missed by all those who had the good fortune of knowing and working with him. SFI dips its flag in memory of Com. Vijender and resolves to champion the ideals he stood for by fighting to fulfil his unfinished tasks.