All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO)
An intense crisis is prevailing in the field of education today. Attempts are afoot to change the very object of education from man-making to money-making. Instead of functioning as seats of learning, the institutions are assuming the shape of private-limited companies while education is being transformed into a costly commodity. The spirit of inquiry, search for truth, cultivation of knowledge, the processes of man-making, character building, developing scientific bent of mind, whatever had existed in the earlier system of education, are fast dying due to rapid privatisation and commercialisation. The trends of profit-making, self-seeking, and extreme career-centricism are being promoted among the students in a calculated way. Minor boys and girls are being relentlessly exposed to sex and violence through the media, internet, advertisements and variety of means. Apathy towards social-educational problems has become an alarmingly growing trend among the students. Sexual onslaught on women, variety of juvenile crimes are rapidly on the increase. Money power and muscle power is dominating the students’ politics, with hardly any concern for the burning problems of students. Communal, casteist and parochial forces are raising their ugly heads in general and in student politics in particular. Amidst this deep darkness of crisis, as a shining torchlight, the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO) has boldly and single-handedly held aloft the glorious banner of secular-democratic left student movement with the demand of universal secular, scientific and democratic education.
Today the AIDSO is engaged in developing student movement in all the major states of the country, in countless schools, colleges and universities against fee hike, privatisation and commercialisation of education and various other problems. The organisation always upheld the secular-democratic ethos and values and fought any attempt to communalise education or the steps to infuse spiritual, divisive, parochial or casteist views within the society and in the educational field. AIDSO is fighting the menace of corruption rapidly increasing in the field of education, in the proportion of commercialisation. It is fighting to retain and protect the students’ long standing democratic right of elected student union and the right of the students to voice their protest. AIDSO is also waging battle in different states against ‘criminalisation’ of campus caused by the student organisations attached to the ruling parties.
A few school and college students through the founding convention on 28th December 1954, at Mahabodhi Society, a small hall in Calcutta (Kolkata), founded the AIDSO. From the very beginning, the most advanced scientific knowledge, propounded by the leading Marxist thinker of this era, comrade Shibdas Ghosh, acted as a torch to illumine the path of struggle of AIDSO amid darkness. When the pioneers of AIDSO founded the organisation they had no resource, no patronage or backing from anyone. They had to face an uphill and challenging task. Had there been a single student union or organisation, as in several countries in Europe or Asia, which could unite all the students of the country, there would have been no need for us to develop any separate student organisation. But since the days of freedom movement, i.e. in the first half of the 20th century, there had been a number of student organisations quite big and enjoying the support of different political parties. On the basis of the teachings of comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the founders of AIDSO realised that the bloodshed and sacrifice of the martyrs, countless unknown students and youths in the freedom struggle virtually went astray due to absence of correct revolutionary leadership. The dream of the martyrs of creating a society free from exploitation, remained unfulfilled. Instead of freedom or emancipation of people, what was achieved was the transfer of power from British to the exploitative Indian capitalist class.
Soon after independence students again burst out in movements on different educational and socio-economic demands. In those days, in spite of existence of many big student’ organisations, none could identify the real problems of the students, rather led the student movement towards wrong directions with cheap and popular slogans. Hence, a student organisation, which can properly analyse the economy, politics and history on the basis of the most advanced scientific outlook of the day, which can properly locate the problems of student life and lead and guide the student movement making it conducive to the movement for social progress and change was the need of the hour. With this behest of history the AIDSO was born.
The basic demand of AIDSO, the demand of secular, scientific and democratic education, evolved in our country during the days of Indian Renaissance and later during the freedom movement. In the 19th century Raja Rammohan, Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Jothirao Phule and other great renaissance personalities initiated the movement for establishment of a modern system of education that will obliterate the influence of superstitious feudal culture and promote democratic ethos and values within the society. Due to the imperialist British rule this cherished system of education could not be fulfilled. The martyrs’ of freedom movement in the 20th century sacrificed their lives with the dream of establishing a society where no student will be thrown out of the campus due to poverty, no youth will perish due to unemployment or no worker or peasant will be forced to commit suicidee out of hunger and humiliation. But unfortunately their dream remained unfulfilled owing to absence of a correct leadership that could lead the rising tide of freedom movement towards its cherished goal.
After independence the rule of the Indian capitalist class was established. They were all the more afraid of providing education lest it would create knowledge and awareness that could strike at the very root of their exploitative system. Initially they started the attack in a subtle way through restriction of higher education by launching “seat restriction scheme” and ‘moratorium on opening of new universities’ etc. The systematic drive for introduction of vocationalisation or job-oriented education began in the sixties. The ruling class floated the argument of ‘relevance’ of education, as if literature, history, social sciences, general sciences had no relevance. Only those things are to be taught that are related to production and useful for procuring job. Policies were adopted in tune with this idea. All the student organisations affiliated to big parliamentary parties, including the ‘lefts’, supported the slogan of job oriented education. It was AIDSO alone which pointed out that socalled job orientation will make education merely information based and weaken the process of development of faculty of reasoning and tender human feelings among the students. Armed with the invaluable teachings of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, AIDSO, since its very inception, developed movement against fee hike, seat restriction scheme, moratorium on opening of new universities, vocationalisation of education, job-oriented education and many more issues.
Since the middle of 80’s a new phase has started in the field of education. In 1986, the new National Policy on Education 1986 (NPE’86) openly declared that education will be viewed as a ‘unique investment’. It virtually opened the floodgate of fee hike and privatization & commercialisation of education. Since the beginning of 90’s the ruling capitalist class of India started the systematic attempt to convert education into a field of investment as the design prescribed in GATS (General Agreement on Trade in Services). The entire system of education was virtually handed over to the indigenous and foreign corporate investors. They are out to destroy the last vestiges of secular, scientific and democratic education which was envisaged by our great predecessors.
Today, due to rampant fee hike privatization and commercialisation, education is rapidly drifting out of reach of the poor and common students. Being deprived of education, each year, hundreds and hundreds of students are committing suicide; students’ suicide has become an alarmingly growing trend throughout the country. But commercialisation is not only making education costly but is destroying the kernel of education also. It is destroying the process of development of scientific outlook and tender human feelings, the process of development of conscience within a student. Attack is not only confined to education but a planned attack to destroy the moral-cultural backbone of the students is raging in full swing. In this hour of crisis when the education, culture and humanity-all are virtually on verge of destruction AIDSO has been the only force in the field of student movement, confronting this attack. All other student organisations are either overtly or covertly supporting the evil of commercialisation of education. In different parts of the country AIDSO’s movements have drawn vast number of students, guardians, teachers and renowned intellectuals within its vortex. AIDSO is struggling to fulfil the unfulfilled dreams of the great men of the Renaissance of our country or the heroes of the uncompromising trend of freedom movement. Responding to the cry of oppressed humanity, AIDSO is standing at the side of the students who, out of utter frustration are pushed towards commiting suicide, who with sigh and tears are silently deserting the field of education.
The AIDSO feels that the student movement must be built up on the basis of higher ethics and culture. It is striving to create an environment within the campuses conducive to cultivation of knowledge and cultural upliftment. Since its inception the AIDSO has been conducting the movement to cultivate and uphold the life and struggle of the great men who devoted themselves for the advancement of civilization like Geordano Bruno, Galileo, Einstein, Madam Curie etc. or great personalities of the uncompromising trend of Indian Renaissance and freedom movement like Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Munshi Premchand, Rabindranath, Saratchandra, Subramanya Bharathi, Kazi Nazrul Islam or revolutionary freedom fighters or martyrs like Kshudiram Bose, Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhas, Asfaqullah Khan, Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Pritilata Waddedar etc. Being inspired by the life and teachings of these great personalities and through relentless struggle, the AIDSO has emerged, across the length and breadth of the country, as students’ own instrument of struggle to fight against the attacks. It is rallying around its glorious flag millions and millions of young jubilant soldiers to save education, culture and humanity.