SFI West Bengal State Committee hosted a discussion on "the Culture of the 'Parivartan' and Changing Culture". Speakers at the discussion were veteran leftist leader and former SFI secretary Goutam Deb, prominent academician Pabitra Sarkar and All India General Secretary of SFI and Rajya Sabha MP Ritabrata Banerjee. The discussion session was held at the Moulali Youth Centre in Kolkata at 2 pm. A thousand strong march of students walked from Sealdah to Moulali and filed into the hall to overflowing its capacity. Students ended up crowding the doors and sitting on the stage wings.
15th September marks the "Demand Day" of SFI commemorating the historical assembly at Delhi in 1980 that demanded education for all and jobs for all. 11 years later the UN declared education a basic right and announced universal education a goal for human civilisation. Nearly two decades later it was recognised by the Indian state.
Madhuja SenRoy was elected to preside over the session. The assembly mourned the loss of the legendary agrarian leader Binoy Kongar. A moments silence was also observed in honour of former leader of SFI, Saifuddin Chowdhury.
Ritabrata Banerjee spoke first, dwelling briefly on the historical importance of the date and the evolution of the slogan 'Education for all, Jobs for all.' He spoke at length on how the changing political culture in Bengal had restricted the freedom and democratic space of the students. Ritabrata described the experience of visiting the home of the class 10 student murdered and raped at Dhupguri, describing some stanzas written down carefully in her notebook that her little sister had shown him and how education breeded resistance. He stressed the need for a sound theoretical understanding to back up all practical political work. He rounded off with the hatred that is nurtured by the public towards fascists and with a message of resistance from Allende's Chile with a little help from Victor Jara and Pablo Neruda.
Pabitra Sarkar, reknowned teacher, academician and educationist stood at the podium next. He revisited the present stiffling situation in West Bengal, reminding students that there are times when they must spill out of the campuses onto the streets to participate in greater struggles at the level of the society. He stressed that this was such a time, when the student must defend his right to the campus through his role in the struggle outside the campus. On the changing cultural atmosphere he touched upon the lumpenisation of student politics through the entry of antisocial outsiders in the campus. He also denounced the infiltration of self serving regressive agendas worming their way into students' movements.
Goutam Deb, former minister, veteran leader and former secretary of the SFI had the crowd literally on their toes hanging on to his every word enthralled. He mercilessly dissected the charecteristics of the TMC and its supremo. He lashed out at the government for blocking out the opposition completely, comparing this era with the efforts made by the previous left government to reach out to the TMC and the unbiased attitude the left had shown towards development at all assembly constituencies ignoring petty political differences in the interest of the people. He called upon the students to reclaim the campuses, stressing the need to use calm logic to defeat the debased politics of the ruling party, and urging that a policy of no backing down be practiced against the TMC and the cultural change they represent.