Progressive Democratic Students’ Federation is being founded at time when the students of West Bengal as well as the entire country are witnessing an immense crisis in the most crucial phase of their lives. The imperialist forces of all colors, the landlords, and the Congress (I) government at the centre which eagerly looks after the interest of the large capitalists have been bringing about attacks after attacks on the student community in every sphere, be it economic, cultural or educational. Through the recently introduced ‘National Policy on Education’, the Rajeev Gandhi Government is conspiring to provide all benefits of education to a handful of students on one hand and push the majority towards a bleak future on the other. As a result, the resentment amongst the students is growing fast and to counter that resentment, the government is enacting various undemocratic bills, unleashing police and other forms of state repression. At the same time, student organs like ‘Chhatra Parishat’ (known as NSUI in other parts of India) are facilitating these anti-student measures and yet claiming to be the protector of student interest. Organizations like ‘Vidyarthi Parishat’ (ABVP), ‘Chhatra Janata’ and other such representatives of reactionary politics are merely birds of the same feather. Even in our state West Bengal, the Left front government in power is implementing anti-student policies. In the present state of affairs, organizations like SFI-AISF-PSU-SB which bluntly aid the government or reformist forces like DSO can hardly make the students dream a brighter future. There is an increasing feeling of helplessness and pessimism amongst the students. The career-centric attitude of me-myself is killing the spirit and fire of youth. The diverse demands of various regional, social and ethnic groups and their struggles are opening up lots of questions for the student community. Even in this critical juncture, there are forces which strive to organize the students against reactionary politics on one hand and state-dependent politics on the other, and inspire them to take up the cause of revolutionary politics. PDSF identifies itself with these forces.
PDSF salutes the great contribution of the student community in the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist struggle of the Indian people led by the true patriots Sidhu-Kanu-Birsa Munda, Khsudiram, Binay-Badal-Dinesh and others alike. It upholds the lessons learnt from the Naval Revolt, Tebhaga movement. PDSF finds its roots in the continuity of the great revolutionary students and youths who dared to oppose the ultra-nationalistic fervor in the wake of the Indo-China war of 1962, created a rare example of international fraternity, and later on renounced the parliamentary politics to actively participate in the revolutionary struggle of the Naxalbari peasants. PDSF also reveres the toil of the students and youths, who at a later stage, despite several limitations could go beyond the line of boycotting mass organizations and organized students in schools and colleges across the state. In short, PDSF pledges to play its due role as a true successor of the student movements that fought valiantly against imperialism, feudalism and large capital.
But to this date, the revolutionary students are not united in a single organization. They are spread amongst different SA, DSA, DSF, Students Unity Committee and such other college based groups or a few central forces. The prime task at hand is to unite these revolutionary students in a single central organization. In order to achieve that and at the same time ensure that the everyday struggle of the students against the repressive forces continues unabated, PDSF has come up with its Agenda.
We are certain that this Agenda, however perfect it be made, cannot fulfill the aspirations of the revolutionary student force in the present circumstances. It can only be achieved through the tireless effort and enthusiasm of countless new student-activists. And thus, it can hope to shed its incompleteness and transpire into the Agenda of an united revolutionary student movement.
First State Conference
14th February 1988
Progressive Democratic Students’ Federation
State of education In India:
Though the constitution of India promises universal education, a vast majority (portion) of the Indian People have been deprived of the minimum educational facilities. In particular, the state of education in villages is worse compared to that in the cities, despite the fact that majority of our people live in villages. The fraction of the government budgets that is set aside for education is too meager compared to what is required. Even then, bulk of that is spent to sustain a handful of elite schools, colleges, universities and technical institutions; where again, majority of the students come from rich or upper middle class families. On the other hand, majority of the schools and colleges continue to remain in a deplorable condition. Though a few of the states of the Indian Union provide free schooling till various stages, they collect fees for books, exercise copies and other accessories and for the development of the school as well, thereby reducing the system of ‘state-funded education’ to a farce. Over and above this, in our state (West Bengal) as well as in other states, a process has been set in motion to do away with the free education system and also impose fee hike in all levels of education. Through the two way prong of commercialization and privatization, the government is now seeking commoditization of education, thereby taking education away from scope of a vast majority of the students. And finally the absence of the minimum necessities - food-shelter-clothing for the general public is resulting in further loss of interest towards education.
The prevalent education system does not make the students aware of the fundamental problems of the society and the people. Generally there is no connect between the curriculum or the teaching technique used in various schools and colleges and the actual ways to build a better society. This education system on one hand prevents the use of education for social transformation and upliftment and the on the other hand fails to stimulate the creative faculties of the students. Rather, it directs the students in a monotonous way towards ‘good result- good job’ that seems to be achievable by mugging up texts and obtaining good marks in exams. In this way, the system paves the way for creating self-centered, selfish personas with distorted values, who are grossly indifferent towards the country and its people. Moreover, this education system provides the students with a wrong view of development of the society, nationally and globally. When in power, BJP-RSS-Sangh Parivar had indulged in ‘saffronization’ of education. In particular, the curriculum of history has been distorted immensely and communalization of education in general is leading the society to a grave danger. Not surprisingly, this education system kindles religious superstitions and unscientific or pseudo scientific attitude in students. The colonial culture is evident from the controversies and unwillingness to provide education in one’s mother-tongue. At the same time, proper representation of students-teachers-parents-non-teaching staff at various decision levels of education makes the system undemocratic at heart. In short, the education system in our country can be summarized as an unscientific, undemocratic system that is indifferent to the societal needs.
For whom does the system work?:
The existing education system has been developed to serve the purpose of the ruling section of the Indian society. This on one hand comprises the agents of the imperialist forces and on the other hand landlords, money lenders and Indian capitalists. The so called independence obtained in 1947 has in no way stopped the foreign plunder of India’s wealth. Today India has become the happy hunting ground for not only Britain but America, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and other imperialist countries. The country today is stifled by the exorbitant amounts of foreign loans, numerous compromising commercial treaties, so called "helps" and "grants". Hoards of NGO-s and other groups are working at the behest of the capitalists. As a direct consequence, the foreign influence and the control is getting stronger not only in industry-commerce-defense but also in education-art and culture. Thus, instead of invoking hatred towards the imperialist forces, the existing education system inspires us to blindly imitate them and at the same time ignore the contribution of the peasantry and working people. Through aids in educational institutions, participation in various policy deciding commissions and direct intervention through privately run institutes, the imperialist forces with the tacit support of the indigenous reactionary forces determine the curriculum, syllabus and teaching methods ,logic that suit their needs. The result being that every thousands of students who have been educated at the cost of the countrymen choose to migrate at the prospect of lucrative jobs. In this way, the priceless knowledge capital gets drained to foreign countries.
On the other hand, the necessary land reforms and establishments of new industries are being barred by the fact that a major portion of land in India is in the hands of a few land lords and zamindars. In order to diffuse the resultant horrendous crisis of unemployment, there is in place a deep conspiracy of reducing the number of educated unemployed by restricting the opportunities to a handful. Top-heavy syllabi, random and ad-hoc changes in the curriculum, mass scale failures- a few of the tactics employed to curtail the accessibility of education to all are leaving the student community in jeopardy.
In fact, the present education system is nothing but a continuation of the colonial one with a few cosmetic changes. And the filthy nexus of landlords-moneylenders-desi-capitalists in tandem with the imperialist forces is using this education system to perpetuate the anti-people rule.
Socio-economic picture of India:
The state of education is just one aspect of the Indian social scenario. There exists widespread hunger, mal-nutrition, resulting deaths, child-labour, bonded labour, dowry and even sati. When the right- wing BJP came to power, their communal divisive policies led to rapid increase of religious fundamentalism, retrogressive thinking and these tendencies are continuing till this date and these are used to suppress the basic grievances of the people. To this date, a huge section of the population is deprived of the basic rights of food-shelter-work-health. The cultivation based country still practices century old methods of farming and irrigation. Every year, either drought or flood ravages a great part of the country causing enormous amounts of death and devastation of crops. The number of landless peasants is on the rise.
However, in the last two decades, the farm sector has seen some extent of modernization in terms of equipments and use of chemical fertilizers. But unfortunately, this has happened entirely at the behest of the imperialist forces. Since the basic question of extensive land reforms has been left unattended and the feudal land-labour relationship is structurally intact, these cosmetic changes are in fact creating even more disparities in the agriculture economy. The benefits are enjoyed by the big farmers while the ordinary peasants find the future bleaker.
Crisis in the industrial sector has reached its zenith as well. Termination, lock-out, lay-off, closure, lowering of wages is on a tremendous rise. The WTO prescribed economic reforms, which were unleashed by the Congress Government, has now taken the form of ‘second generation of reforms’, courtesy the BJP government. Unbridled import of industrial and agricultural goods, divestments and labour-law reforms are resulting in rapid destruction of indigenous industries and closure of PSUs. Unplanned automation and mechanization with the sole objective of profit-mongering is producing high volumes of surplus labour. As the government showcases the dazzling growth in the IT sector, the utter neglect towards the heavy and labour intensive industrial sector is resulting in further shrinkage of work opportunity. And the fiery speeches of "India Shining" confuse people and facilitate further exploitation of the masses.
The union of India, which is a huge conglomeration of numerous ethnic and regional groups, has failed to integrate and honour the aspirations of the marginalized. Rather, just like in the colonial rule, the police and the bureaucracy have been used to force "unity" of the people. Even today discrimination amongst the people on the basis of colour-caste-religion goes unabated, just like in the middle ages. Women are still denied equal rights and dignity. Rampant superstition, religious bigotry, materialistic thinking, self-centeredness, sexual perversion, male domination, submissive attitude and similar such diseases that plague the Indian society are being furthered by the ruling class. In the name of entertainment, the students are being swayed by the degraded cultural values which ultimately transform them into selfish, unsocial, mindless invertebrates.
Whenever the students and the people have tried to oppose these designs and reclaim their rights, the movements have been dealt with disproportionate amount of state terror. Various parliamentary enactments have been made to facilitate this. But yet, the struggle of the masses could hardly be silenced, for, the post 1947 history of India is nothing but the glorious history of continuous struggles of the workers, peasants, middle class people, undeveloped communities, subdued races and the regional forces against the exploitative rulers.
The International Scenario:
The global scenario is as restless as the Indian. The economic crises of the various capitalist and imperialist countries are being ‘outsourced’ to the third world countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Consequently, these countries already plagued by their internal problems, face bigger disasters. The US hegemony has created a unipolar world but the accumulation of conventional and nuclear weapons go on as in the cold-war days. In the name of ensuring peace and democracy world wide, America and its accomplices have been bombing every nook and corner of the planet, butchering millions. At the same time, the ultra-nationalist rulers of our country are taking us to the brink of nuclear war. The militant jingoism against neighbouring countries is a ploy to divert attention of the people away from the internal problems. Military intervention in the internal matters of the smaller neighbours reflects the true expansionist character of the Indian rulers.
Opposed to this, the various struggles of the people to garner freedom to protect sovereignty, liberty and oust despotic rulers are taking shape across the world. Anti-war, anti-nuclear weapons movements are gaining popularity. Various democratic movements are rightly venting their anger against their actual enemy, the imperialist rulers. Although there has been a constant effort to misguide and sabotage these movements, the union of the students, workers, peasants and other marginalized sections of the society are putting up worthwhile struggles.
In order to get rid of all the problems in the realm of education, the students need to overthrow the existing unscientific, anti-people, undemocratic education system and strive for the establishment of a scientific and democratic alternative. This new system should be in proper synchronization with the actual socio-economic and cultural situation of our country and should inspire the student community to contribute to actual development of the people. With this eventual goal, it is the duty of every student to be a part of the struggle against social, political and economic aggressions and consolidate the already gained democratic rights. But until and unless the present socio-economic system that serves imperialism, feudalism and large capital is uprooted, an alternative education system is impossible to establish. With the experience of India and the world as well, it is obvious that in order to bring about much radical change in society and education, one cannot bank upon the existing government, ministers and bureaucracy. On the other hand, our goal cannot be reached by boycotting mass organizations, mass movements and taking hasty measures. So with their own demand for a new alternative education system the students need to actively participate in the movement of the workers, peasants, middleclass to establish an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, anti capital, new democratic India.
Ideals and Direction of Progressive Democratic Students’ Federation:
The crises and problems faced by the students are directly related to present socio-economic system of the country. As sons and daughters of a worker family or a peasant family or middleclass family, they face similar problems as faced by the respective classes. Evidently, they cannot but be deeply interested in bringing about a radical change in the existing system. So all those students who are determined to uproot the continuation of colonial education system and be a part of the struggle against imperialism, feudalism and large capital are revolutionaries and PDSF will strive to organize them.
Students being the most sensitive section of the intellectual community are moved most by the contemporary social events. By giving due importance to this special characteristic of the students, PDSF desires to initiate debates and discussions on democratic and socialist movements happening in different countries of the world. At the same time, PDSF would strive to imbibe interest amongst the students regarding progressive literature, books and magazines of India and abroad.
PDSF will voluntarily extend its cooperation and support towards the movements and aspirations of the toiling masses. It will take lessons from their life and struggle to inspire the student community. PDSF extends warm regards to all those students and other people around the globe who are fighting against the imperialists or reactionary rulers, for claiming freedom or establishment of democracy.
In the face of the growing trend of promoting ‘a politics’ or the reactionary design of making education ‘free of politics’, PDSF will tirelessly strive to encourage the practice of political learning, research, and activism. PDSF strongly condemns the heinous ploy of the ruling class to divide the unity of students and the working people in the name of caste, creed, region, and religion. It upholds the principles of secularism, progress and pledges to build a scientific temper amongst the student community. Today, the ruling class wants to hide their failures in the war cries of pseudo-nationalism and patriotism. Standing against this, PDSF wants to build itself as the organization of revolutionary students who would fight against imperialism, feudalism and large capital.
Fundamental Demands of Revolutionary Democratic Student Movement:
1. Totally scrap the existing unscientific, socially irrelevant and undemocratic education system and establish a scientific, socially connected and democratic one.
2. Right to education in one’s mother tongue and all other social benefits at all levels of education.
3. Universal compulsory free education.
4. Job oriented education.
5. Stop any shrinkage of opportunities to education.
6. Arrange for all: education and job at the end of education
7. Reduce expenditure in defense, increase expenditure in education and arrange for proper distribution of it at all levels.
8. Ease bureaucratic control in functioning of educational institutions; True democratic representation of students-teachers-parents-non-teaching staff must be ensured at all levels of decision making.
9. Entry of police in school-college-university premises and undue governmental interference has to be stopped.
10. Educational institutions must be freed of all sorts of private, religious and communal control.
11. Prevent imperialist intervention in education sector
12. Ensure proper functioning of reservation cum affirmative action for socially and economically backward sections.
Everyone should have access to food-housing-livelihood-healthcare.
Right to work should be made a fundamental right in the constitution.
There should be extensive land reforms to resolve the problem of unemployment.
Job termination, in the name of automation, mechanization must be stopped.
Pro-people economic planning should be made to prevent price hike.
All unequal military and commercial treaties must be scrapped. Repayment of foreign loans that incur exorbitant interests must be stopped and all foreign capitals should be confiscated.
Government should confiscate the capital of monopolistic capitalists.
The just demands of all underdeveloped sections and regions must be conceded.
Social and economic exploitation of backward communities and the poor has to be stopped.
All undemocratic sections of the constitution must be repealed.
Use of state terror on democratic movements must be stopped.
Government should stop promoting perverted and degraded cultural values.
We want equal rights for men and women.
PDSF’s call towards the student community:
Work for a united revolutionary student movement opposing all sorts of reactionary, power seeking or reformist politics.
Extend support towards worker-peasant lead democratic movements.
Strengthen the movement for scientific and progressive thinking.
Move extensively to promote a healthy, progressive culture that reflects people’s life.
Uphold the principles of ‘Panchsheel’ and support the struggle of the people fighting against imperialism as well as seeking national freedom.
Be vocal against Indian intervention in internal matters of neighbours.
March against manufacture of nuclear weapons and demand destruction of the existing arsenal.
1. Name of the organization: Progressive Democratic Students’ Federation
2. Character of the organization: Student organization opposing imperialism, feudalism and large capital.
3. Area of Work: West Bengal
4. Flag: Rectangular in shape, red in colour, with P.D.S.F written vertically along the right hand edge. The length, breadth ration will be 3:2.
5. Aim: To take necessary action for establishing an united revolutionary student organization in order to establish a scientific, democratic, socially relevant education system. At the same time, take steps to unify student movements.
6. Direction: Detailed in our agenda
7. Membership: Any student aged of West Bengal aged above 14 (approximately studying in Std. VIII) is eligible to be a member. In a given region, non-students can also become members, subject to compliance to a predetermined ratio of students to non-students. Organization will issue two types of membership-unit membership and general membership to its members.
Every member has to abide by the ‘Agenda’ and the ‘Constitution’ and has to work for realizing goals.
Read the mouthpiece of the organization regularly and contribute to make it popular.
Contribute the committed levy regularly and collect contributions towards organization fund.
Every member should work under the supervision of a committee in the organizational hierarchy.
At least half of the registered members of a committee/unit/team must be present in a meeting, take part in implementing a task or participate in any central program.
Every member has the right to raise his/her opinion in his/her own committee.
The members can discuss amongst themselves any relevant political issue that corroborates the organizations direction. The concerned committee must be made aware of these discussions. If the highest committee of any district or the state committee feels that any particular discussion is detrimental to the unity of the organization, it will have the power to terminate the discussion. In that case 2/3 rd majority in the decision making committee will be required.
Right to resign.
Except for the time of conference, only the unit members will have the right to vote in a general or any other meeting.
With the onset of conference power the members will have to renew their membership by paying a fee of Re.1/-
General guidelines for running the organization:
Individual is under the organization
Minority has to conform to the majority
Lower committee has to abide by the decisions of the higher committee
The entire organization comes under the purview of the State Conference
Meeting must be convened at the request of at least half of the committee members
Any meeting attended by at least two-thirds of the members will be considered as valid.
9. Organizational Structure:
District Committee / District Team
Area / Institutional Unit/Team/Committee
10. State Conference:
State Conference is the highest authority in the organization
Generally, Political and Organizational conferences will be held every two years. In certain cases, there can be yearly conferences. Under special circumstances, the state committee may decide to change the timeframe by 6 months at most.
The state conference delegates will be elected by a vote in the lower committees, with proportions being fixed by the higher committee.
The Agenda and the discussion methods, as well as the committee to monitor the proceedings of the conference will be determined by the conference itself.
General topics of discussion in the conference:
A. Interim work reports and their analysis
B. Making future plans
C. Income-expenditure audit
D. Election of State Committee, State President, State Secretary, Cashier of the State Committee, Magazine Editor and the Editor panel for the magazine
11. State Committee:
In between two successive conferences, the State committee will behave as the highest authority
It will deliver on the resolutions and plans undertaken at the State conference and will take care of the growth and maintenance of the organization in line with the organizational constitution
If any State Committee member is absent for three successive meetings, the membership of the member to the State committee will be withheld. A decision about his/her membership will be taken in the next meeting
A state committee meeting must be convened at least once in a month
State President is the highest office bearer in the organization. In his absence, the state committee meeting will be supervised by the State secretary. In between two state committee meetings, the state secretary panel can hold their meetings. But the decisions taken at such meetings must be ratified by the state committee in the next meeting
In case of emergency, if there is no time to convene and hold a full fledged state committee meeting, the state president, in consultation with the state secretary can take decisions and implement them. However, the decisions need to be placed before the next state committee meeting for approval
In order to fill the vacancies or for any other purpose, the state committee can co-opt other committees.
The State Conference will be convened by the State Committee
State committee can create new institutional based or area based units, district committees, district teams; it can also grant new memberships
The magazine will be the mouth-piece of the organization
The magazine editorial board will elected in the state conference and will work under the supervision of the state committee
If any member is found to be to indulge in activities that go against the principles of the agenda and constitution of the organization, then the state committee, on recommendation from the concerned committee, is entitled to take punitive action against the member. The verdict of the State committee will be deemed final. Depending on the gravity of the offence, the following steps are expected to be considered
Apart from this, any member who is absent for three consecutive meetings will be required to communicate the reason for his absence.
14. Changes in the Agenda and Constitution:
Only the State Conference is entitled to bring about any change or make corrections in the Agenda and Constitution.
The state committee can make immediately necessary and requisite changes that are in line with the existing Agenda and Constitution; however, such changes have to be presented before the next state conference for formal approval.
The organization at present is of an interim character. The real development of the Agenda and constitution will only be achieved through a conference called for uniting all the democratic revolutionary students in future.