The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Breath of reform in SFI revamp blueprint

Kozhikode, Feb. 14: The senior comrades of the CPM may continue to wax eloquent on establishing socialism in the country but their juniors in the party’s front organisations are on record saying this is not one of their primary aims.

Taking the lead is the Students Federation of India, the students’ wing of the CPM, which has circulated a draft for changes in its 32-year-old programme and constitution among delegates of the SFI’s all-India conference. The conference kicked off here today with a massive students’ rally, inaugurated by veteran CPM leader Jyoti Basu.

The radical changes in the SFI’s programme, which include deletion of socialism as one of the federation’s primary aims, are expected to get the stamp of approval after deliberations at the five-day conference, attended by 750 delegates from 22 states.

Another proposed revision in the SFI programme is to drop the word “revolution” while referring to the concept of “people’s democratic revolution”. Instead, the draft proposes to use the term “people’s democratic transformation”.

The draft indirectly admits that opposing the entry of the private sector in education for over three decades was wrong.

While the original programme had argued for doing away completely with private sector participation in education, the draft for changes states “all private educational institutions must be made accountable to the society” and “should be brought under strict social control to ensure quality education without corruption and commercialisation”.

Talking to the media, SFI all-India secretary Samik Lahiri said while the federation welcomed positive participation of the private sector in education, it was against the new phenomenon — visible in many parts of the country — of transforming education into a commodity.

P. Krishnaprasad, national president of the SFI, was of the opinion that the draft changes should not be seen as a fundamental shift. “Socialism still continues to be our guiding principle, but as a student organisation, SFI would not struggle for socialism, which has to be established by a socialist republic,” he said.

It is not the policy documents alone that reflect the new approach of the CPM students’ wing. The manner in which the conference has been organised, including the propaganda materials used, signifies a new attitude.

The national and international leaders of the communist movement are conspicuous by their absence from hoardings put up for the conference.

The hoardings are, instead, replete with the leaders of social renaissance in Kerala such as Sree Narayana Guru, Ayyankali and Chattambi Swamikal.

Famous Malayalam litterateur and Gyanpeeth award winner M.T. Vasudevan Nair has been roped in as patron of the conference. Lyricist-poet Javed Akhtar is scheduled to inaugurate the delegates’ session of the conference tomorrow.

By all indications, the SFI plans to make an all-out effort to woo apolitical segments of students, particularly in north India, by drawing energy from this new-look conference.

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