Visit of politicians and ministers is not new for academic institutions, but, the motive behind this is also a matter of concern. Whereas nobody would be stopping the Prime minister from entering the campus, or delivering his speech, there are questions, which we would like to raise here. There are the issues which affect even the privileged students in IITs as well as the other students from more neglected institutions. Such issues should at least be raised, if not addressed by the authorities. Let us begin with the question of poor public expenditure in higher education.
Expenditure of the Indian government in education is abysmally low, and it is almost negligible in higher education, compared to many other countries. Budgetary expenditure in higher education is in a steep decline for the last few years as more and more private universities are coming up and public universities are compelled to hike their fees, leading a large number of students to difficulties and forcing many out of higher education.
Public Expenditure in Higher Education in India (Kundu, P. 2017: Education Budget lacks imagination, Economic and Political Weekly. Vol. LII. No. 27).
This ever declining public expenditure in education, is making us question the higher education policy of the ruling government, and naturally we wonder, whether Mr. Modi wants higher education for all, or whether he is promoting the Brahmanical idea of education only for a few people, belonging to upper caste and upper class backgrounds. Even out of this limited education budget, the share of the IIT’s alone is more than half. Academia in social sciences is facing acute shortage of funds. We fear, scraping of Non-NET fellowship in central universities or scraping of GOI-PMS scholarship (for SC, ST and OBC students) in TISS, are just the beginning. Further fee hike and scraping of scholarships are expected if the present system is allowed to continue.
Of course, the worst sufferers would be the underprivileged students coming from non-upper caste backgrounds. Already the General Financial Rules (GFR) of the MHRD and UGC are about to be implemented in the central universities, and if these rules are implemented, a substantial expenditure of the central universities has to be raised from the fees paid by the students. This will automatically lead to fee hike. Is it wrong for us to question, what happens to the state universities? Is it wrong to think this to be an attack on the entire academic community of the country in general? Incidentally IIT Bombay has already complied with GFR and recently a massive fee hike was announced. This is true in every other institutions despite how privileged they are. Shouldn’t we ask here what happens to the students who are not able to meet this increased financial burden of higher education without economic assistance from the state? Why shouldn’t we ask that this abysmally low budget in public education be raised immediately, and education be made inclusive?
The next set of concerns obviously arises with the HECI Bill (Higher Education Committee of India Bill), which is proposed to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC), the main body regulating funds given to the institutes of higher education. Since the power to control funds will remain with the MHRD under the new act and HECI will have the power to punish or even shut down any institution which will not meet its guidelines, as researchers and students we suspect this to be an attack on the autonomy of the universities. Also without grants, the universities are expected to repay the ‘loans’ they have taken from the MHRD, which will automatically lead to further hike in fees, making the higher education spaces exclusionary for students. Already specialized centres like Centres for Study of Social Exclusion or Centres for Women studies, which deal with social exclusion and raise criticisms are dissolved in universities like JNU and TISS. HECI can regulate this to a far greater extent and totally curb the autonomies of the universities in selecting which courses they are willing to offer. Will it be wrong for us to question the prime minister why his government is hell bent on destroying the educational institutions of this country? Will it be wrong for us to ask, why the government is scared of higher education and freedom of teachers and students in selecting what they want to study?
The next very important concern is that of employment. Despite our privileged status as students of IIT Bombay, we are indeed concerned about the falling rate of employment across the country. The government has managed to create very little number of jobs over the last few years. The employment generation speed faced a six-year low in 2015 as only 135,000 new jobs were created compared to 421,000 jobs in 2014 and 419,000 in 2013, as per a quarterly industrial survey conducted by the Labour Bureau under the Labour Ministry. Jobs in the IT sector have dwindled to 1.5 lakh annual recruitments from over 3 lakh recruitments in previous years. After a survey conducted by job site Naukri.com, the report said, “The overall job market saw an 11 percent fall in new jobs, with IT-software industry most hit. IT-Software industry was hit the most with a 24 percent decline in hiring in April as compared to April 2016.” Besides, as per Labour bureau figures, India added just 1.35 lakh jobs in eight labour-intensive sectors in 2015, compared to 9.3 lakh jobs that were created in 2011. Whereas recruitment in government sector is almost negligible and employment in other sectors is falling, we are rightfully concerned about the validity of the entire ‘Make in India’ narrative and how much it actually guarantees. Without presence of any reservation for SC/ ST or OBC candidates in the private sector, more than 50 % of the Indian population with higher education, are likely to be pushed out of the job market as well. The prime minister is expected to answer for this exclusion in the employment sector.
As researchers and students, we believe that academia is not something disconnected from the society. We condemn all the hate crimes happening across the country in name of religion, caste, ethnicity and race. Somehow, the ruling government has found out a way to defend or be silent about most of such occurring. As we write this, we condemn the rape and murder women across the country, particularly of those, who were targeted because of their Dalit, tribal or Muslim identities. We question how the perpetrators of such heinous crime could get all solidarity from the ruling party. We condemn all the atrocities committed on Dalits and Muslims over the last few years in the name of religion and aggressive upper caste pride. We question how beef becomes so important an issue that living human being could be killed for it, and the murderer would get perfect impunity from the state. We question how the government could so easily decide who is a citizen and who is not on basis of their religious identities. But finally we would like to question Mr. Modi’s silence on all these issues. As a prime minister, we demand that he takes a positive stand and condemn all the hate crimes committed and supported by his party members.
Press release by Students of IIT Bombay on August 11, 2018
Comrade KN Ramachandran presented the draft Political Organizational Report of the Central Committee and comrade PJ James the draft Political Resolution. They were discussed with the delegates seeking clarification of many points and moving amendments. The draft state political organizational report presented by com Rudrayya led to heated discussions, at the end of which it was adopted.
Following this through secret ballot a 15 member state committee was elected with the option to co-opt 3 women comrades later. The SC elected comrade B. Rudrayya as secretary. 35 delegates to the Party Congress were also elected. The conference adopted many resolutions and concluded with the decision to make all out efforts to make the party Congress at Bengaluru a great success.
The Union government is turning the state of Tamil Nadu into a “ laboratory of fascism “. The weak and discredited Tamil Nadu government has been toeing the line of the BJP government at the centre, in order to ensure its own survival. In recent times, the state witnessed brutal killings in police firings, arrest of activists and community members under draconian laws such as UAPA, NSA and Sedition and so on. The police firing on the people’s peaceful demonstration in Thoothukudi killing 13 protesters and injuring hundreds, the arrest of 19 people who were distributing pamphlets on the Cennai - Salem corridor and slapping them with sedition charges, the arrest and custodial torture of lawyers representing activists, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board authorities approval of the Unilever’s failed remedial tests in Kodaikanal, police conducting raid in the house of Tamil documentary filmmaker Divya Bharathi shortly after the release of the trailer for her documentary “orutharum varela” (Nobody Came) on Cyclone Okhi etc are all symptoms of a fascist government brazenly experimenting repression in its various forms to suppress peoples voices .
The plight of the activists and protestors is exacerbated by the state conniving openly with corporate to loot the natural resources with the intention to displace lakhs of people from their primary source of livelihood be it in the case of the coasts or that of the farmers and the landless. Each policy implemented by the Tamil Government if looked closely from the perspective of the communities, it is anti-environment as well as anti people in approach. Hence the state of Tamil Nadu is in a situation of crisis, where the Central government is back-seat driving by unilaterally imposing the development projects in an undemocratic and authoritarian fashion. The corporates are relentlessly sequestering and squandering the natural resources that rightly belongs to the future generations of Tamil Nadu and across.
The representatives of People’s Movements in Tamil Nadu came together to discuss this state wide repression and arbitrary crackdown on people opposing anti- people developmental projects in Chennai on 15th July 2018 . It was decided that there needs to be an appraisal of the situation of the state within the larger civil society in the light of the incidents mentioned above. The activists and people’s movement representatives who have been falsely targeted by the state have condemned the heinous acts of the government and police to create an atmosphere of intimidation and threat.
The migrant question has become extremely complex and universal under neo-colonial offensive by imperialist powers and the comprador regimes in the neo-colonially dependent countries. Everywhere the ruling classes are trying to utilize increasing migrant question to intensify their divisive politics spreading racial, communal, casteist hatred. Internationally it is the task of working class and all progressive democratic forces to expose this imperialist design and fight it.
In South Asia the communal division of British India and the divide and rule policy of British along with the deportation of millions to work in plantations, mines etc have given rise to very complex migrant question especially in the North-eastern region. Instead of resolving it politically, hitherto governments had only tried to use it for election politics. In 2015 they amended the migration act communally denying the rights given to Hindus and other religious followers to Muslims. Utilizing this, the RSS parivar has communalized the issue extensively for coming to power in Assam. They want to perpetuate and spread this heinous move to consolidate power. The present draft NRC prepared allegedly under supervision of the SC is going to serve their purpose. They are trying to spread this move to Bengal and other North-eastern states, intensifying communal turmoil in the whole region and in other states. This is going to intensify the tensions among all countries in South Asia also.
The progressive secular democratic forces should not get swayed by this imperialist promoted RSS scheme. Understanding the complexity of the migrant question in the present neo-colonial situation, going beyond chauvinist positions and uncompromisingly fighting against forces trying to create communal and racial divisions, they should strive for a humanistic and internationalist approach to solve the problem. Let us get united to take such an approach joining hands across religious, state and national boundaries.
Spreading the Hindu fundamentalist agenda, the RSS parivar is claiming to champion the rights of the original inhabitants of Assam and other North-eastern states to save them from migrants! So they are on the way of creating a human tragedy by declaring four million inhabitants as illegal migrants in the draft NRC report. Their leaders are arrogantly talking about the need for such NRC reports and follow up actions in Bengal and other North-eastern states also! That is their Brahminical solution to the migrant question created from the colonial days and intensified under present neo-colonial devastation!
But after US imperialism, the Modi government is the closest ally of Israel created by planned migration of millions of Jews reducing the original inhabitants, the Palestinians in to a minority and then enslaving them in to ghettos which are frequently attacked brutally to discipline them! What the RSS parivar is talking about the migrants in Northeast is not applicable to their Zionist friends! As migration and deprivation of the masses is caused by the imperialist system through barbarous actions starting from the colonial days and intensified following the imposition of neoliberal policies in 1970s, only imperialist lackeys can talk about it delinking it from imperialist loot and hegemony!
Of course, it has now become clear that Modi’s high-profile “Make in India” was only a veil for drawing out the roadmap for the eventual surrender of the country’s strategic sectors to imperialist capital. And the immediate outcome of Modinomics with its ultra-rightist corporate orientation, despite its pseudo-nationalism, has been to drag India, a neo-colonially dependent country to hitherto unknown levels of compradorisation and dependence on foreign corporate capital including that from China. From the very beginning, in tune with India’s geopolitical contradiction with China, Modi was bent on maintaining India as a junior partner of US imperialism. But in several respects, the US has become obsolete in respect of many badly needed technologies, even as Chinese imperialism has effectively surpassed the former in many respects. This is the reason that prompted Modi regime to abjectly depend on China for currency printing. Of course, this also is not new thing. For, during the demonetization days, India was depending on China for the import of swiping machines and for recalibration of ATMs.
In the this context, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s argument that currency printing in China will make it easy for Pakistan to counterfeit Indian currency is a far-fetched one, as that option was already there when India was depending on NATO countries for its currency.
The High Level Working Group headed by K Kasturirangan had earmarked 13,108 sq km in 123 villages as ESA in Kerala. Following widespread protests – orchestrated by political parties with vested interests – in the high-range districts, the state government convinced the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to exclude 3,117 sq km of settlements and agricultural land from the ESA. Following directions from the Ministry to fine tune the ESA maps prepared by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB), the government ordered another round of field verification. Four villages in Kottayam district were taken off the ESA list. The Save Western Ghats movement feels that the decision to earmark only protected forests as ESA would be disastrous for the Western Ghats. It signals the beginning of the end for this fragile ecosystem threatened by encroachments, illegal quarrying and unauthorised constructions.
Under impact of opportunist political trends, environmental issues have fallen off the political agenda. The stiff resistance to the recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil Committee and even the much diluted the Kasturirangan Committee show that both the ruling and opposition parties have capitulated to vested interests for short-term gains. The decision to exclude settlements and agricultural land from ESA was taken to assuage the feelings of the farmers who perceived a threat to their land and livelihood, probably because of a misinformation campaign by vested interests. But even this compromise was used by vested interests to vitiate the atmosphere. Things took a turn for the worse after Congress-led UDF and CPI(M) like political parties started exploiting the volatile situation to their benefit.
The government’s decision to earmark only protected forests as ESA is short-sighted and will prove to be costly for the state. Vested interests had used farmers as a cover to whip up feelings against the recommendations of the committee and create a fear psychosis in the high ranges. The protests were organised and not spontaneous and political parties including the Congress and the CPI(M) used the vitiated atmosphere to enhance their appeal and create vote banks, while the BJP government at the Centre merely paid lip service to conservation of the Western Ghats. The Save Western Ghats movement is mobilising public opinion for conservation – an uphill task. Kerala crisis arose due to destruction of ecologically-sensitive zones in Western Ghats.
When Gadgil Report explained the devastation done to Western Ghats region, how it is going to adversely affect the ecological equilibrium, and suggested preventive measures to overcome it, almost all ruling and opposition parties in the state along with religious and heads of caste organizations had joined hands to bury it through violent agitations. Though the imperialist propped development paradigm, especially from 1970s onwards had become devastating to nature, anyone raising it was rebuffed as ecological fundamentalist! This year’s heavy monsoon rains is not the end. Under climate change caused by ecological destruction these climate variations may become frequent more severe in coming days. A rethinking on the development paradigm is immediately needed.
But once the floods started devastating vast areas, almost all the people joined hands in taking up excellent relief work which reduced the death and damages greatly. The services of local youth along with the fisher-people who joined it along with their boats should be specially mentioned. Though prime minister Narendra Modi made air survey of the flood devastated Kerala from 17th August evening and he has received reports from the state government, he has offered just Rs 500 crores only as immediate relief. What the people of Kerala demand is the urgent declaration of the flood havoc in the state as a national calamity and urgent relief of Rs 2000 crores as the state government has asked for. As the rains have receded, thousands of crores worth relief work and materials are required for rehabilitation. We appeal for more active people’s participation in the relief and rehabilitation work without waiting for gifts from top. Similarly the struggling pro-gressive forces should join hands to launch a vigorous campaign against the reactionary policies of the ruling system which is creating ecological catastrophe.