Wednesday, July 13, 2005

All India Students' Workshop

This week was at last the week where I could pull up my socks and sit and do something worthwhile. I mean, it was a long while since my 2nd Semester completed and I didn't exactly get to do anything to keep myself engaged. And then later, Students' Federation of India organized an All India University Students' Workshop. Besides keeping myself a tad busy with some tidy spreadsheet work, I attended 2 thought-provoking talks.

The first was from Prof. Prabhat Patnaik on the necessity of education in our country to create a set of organic intellectuals committed to a path of development for the country, which was unique to the objective socio-economic conditions prevailing here. Issues such as student migration resulting in loss of talent, crass careerism, withdrawal of the State from ensuring that the mode of education followed an autonomous path consistent with the Preamble of Indian Constitution, were part of the iconic professor's lecture. Engels' notion of some individuals de'class'ifying themselves from their respective class (mostly the bourgeois) and understanding historical materialism and commiting themselves to correct the socio-economic travails of their time, was also invoked. My ears got really particularly keen when Prof Patnaik went about the "declassfying" part; because I felt that I was going through that very same process.

The danger of privatization of Indian education which could rob from a generation of students the ability to recognize the travails afflicting their own societies and to work toward the mitigation of the same and instead getting increasingly linked up with the market forces, was another aspect that was considered in Prof. Patnaik's lecture.

In the course of the lecture, I really understood what was meant by the SFI slogan, "Study and Struggle" at all. Adding more layers of understanding was former SFI leader and one of the current Politburo members of the CPM, Sitaram Yechury. Yechury talked about how during his days as a student leader of JNU Students' Union, he and his fellow students were able to run Messes, Libraries, etc successfully despite the Emergency, causing people to remark that the Students were making the university to function, while the VC was at strike! Yechury even went on to exhort students to take it to themselves to ensure that the myriad egregious practices of communalism and casteism didnt' create schisms in the broad student community, a point that was well received by the assembled students.

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