Historic 50 years of AIDSO with Pledge and Determination

The end of the year 2004 was made memorable with the historic 50th Anniversary observance by the All India Democratic Students’ Organization. The city of Calcutta woke up to witness a solemn celebration through the three days, 27 to 29 December. It was marked by an exhibition of collages and posters with photos, paintings and news of historic events and movements of AIDSO’s struggles as well as memorable quotations of noble personalities, a historic rally of students coming from all 21 states of India and a Reunion of AIDSO leaders, organizers, cadres, supporters and sympathizers of all this fifty years of the life and history of the organization.

On 27th December 2004 students from all over India, young and bright, ardent in their devotion and determination converged on to College Square, Calcutta — the place bearing the heritage of long struggles particularly of students in pre and post-independence India to attend the 50th Anniversary celebration of the AIDSO. Between 27th and 29th December, the AIDSO was reliving the glorious moments of its inception. Illumined with the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s thoughts and with a pledge to wage a relentless struggle to free society, civilization and education from the clutches of exploitation of man by man, the AIDSO has traversed a long path of battle over the years. A worthy attempt was made to depict this struggle through an exhibition of collages and posters with photos, paintings and news of historic events and movements of AIDSO’s struggles as well as memorable quotations from the works of noble personalities. The exhibition was inaugurated as the initial programme by Comrade Krishna Chakraborty, one of the founder organisers of the AIDSO and member, Central Committee of SUCI. At the outset, Comrade Manjunath, the erstwhile DSO organiser from Karnataka presiding over the meeting called upon Comrade Debashis Ray (All India General Secretary AIDSO) from West Bengal, Comrade Protap Shamal (All India President, AIDSO) from Delhi, Comrade Sreejit Sudhakar from Kerala and Comrade Jayesh Patel from Gujarat, to garland the statues of Renaissance personalities, the stalwart educationist Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and the revolutionaries of yester years Surya Sen (Masterda), Tarakeswar Ghoshdastidar, Nirmal Sen, respectively. This was followed by an enthusiastic rendition of a song carrying the mottoes and pledges of the of the AIDSO. Seated at the front row were the Central Committee members of the SUCI Comrade Sukomal Dasgupta, Comrade Asit Bhattacharya, Comrade Provash Ghosh, Central Staff Comrade Manik Mukherjee and member of West Bengal State Secretariat, Comrade Prativa Mukherjee and a few other veteran ex-DSO members. In his inaugural speech, Comrade Krishna Chakraborty pointed out that it was historically determined task of the AIDSO with a view to wage a continuous and ever-accentuating struggle to build up a revolutionary students’ organization in spite of there being several bigger student organizations like AISF, and others to intensify battle against the attacks on education and culture in particular, by the Indian capitalism. The history of the AIDSO, distinguishing it from other student organisations lies in its correct ideology based on Marxism-Leninism and concretised by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, whose teachings have inspired the AIDSO, and will continue to do so and the AIDSO will advance even further with a nobler outlook and nobler concept of life and values. He pointed out that the exhibition arranged at College Square, was in essence embodied the life and the ways and values the AIDSO stood for.

On December 28, was scheduled the public meeting at Shaheed Minar. The dais was beautifully planned and decorated with the emblem of AIDSO portraying figures of young men and women with the red banner held aloft. The announcement “50 years of struggle of the AIDSO between 1954-2004” attracted even distant eyes. Against the backdrop of a clear sky with the Shaheed Minar outlined, fifty Red Flags bearing the motto of ‘struggle’, ‘unity’ and ‘progress’ and set atop both sides of the dais fluttered gracefully in the winter wind which latter, however, could not dampen the indomitable spirit of those youngsters — students from all parts of the country who converged on Shaheed Minar that afternoon having travelled great distances to take part in the celebrations of the day on which the Democratic Students’ Organisation was born fifty years back.

Students from 21 states of the country including those from all districts of West Bengal had started in a procession from the College Square, to gather at the Shaheed Minar. The huge students’ rally, unprecedented in recent time, its mammoth size, equally drew attention of the city people by its discipline and enthusiasm. It was elaborately decorated with a tableau, and scores of banners and festoons depicting different slogans, even messages recognizing the struggle and contributions of the senior comrades of the past and present. Earlier veteran leaders of the AIDSO had paid floral tribute on the statues of Vidyasagar at College Square, of Subhas Chandra Bose at Subodh Mullick Square and the martyr’s column of Madhai Haldar at Rani Rashmoni Road.

“Introduce scientific, secular, democratic education”, “curtail military budget and allot 10% for education”, “stop privatization, commercialization and communalisation of education” — such were the demands of the banners and posters that the demonstrators hold high. Spread all over the ground were the youngsters, eager in anticipation, excited to join the rally at the Saheed Minar, the site of many historic battles before and after independence. In fact, the huge ground was rendered mobile as if by massive human wave — the students enthusiastically shouting slogans in English, Hindi and different regional languages to uphold the cause of education.

Before the meeting commenced, garlands were put on the martyr’s column in front of the dais by Comrade Provash Ghosh, Chief Advisor of the AIDSO and Member, Central Committee, SUCI, Comrade Krishna Chakraborti, and Comrade Asit Bhattacharyya, both among the founder organisers of the AIDSO and both members of Central Committee, SUCI, and by Protap Shamal, President, AIDSO and the president of the meeting as well.

Thereafter, condolence resolution was red out by Comrade Debasis Roy, in memory of those thousands of victims of the recent disastrous earthquake and tsunami affecting South and Southeast Asia taking a toll of human lives and destroying public property. One minute’s silence was observed. January 4 was declared as the All India Relief Collection Day for the quake and tsunami affected people.

Two publications of the AIDSO was released on the occasion by Comrade Asit Bhattacharyya, one entitled ‘Problems of Education and Students’ Movement’, a compilation of different articles on the issue by Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, the eminent Marxist thinker and founder General Secretary of the SUCI, and the other with the title ‘Some Aspects of Students’ Movement and Organization’ by Comrade Nihar Mukherjee, the General Secretary, SUCI.

Thereafter the fraternal delegate from Nepal Comrade Jiban Gautam addressed the gathering and congratulated the AIDSO for its completing 50 years of struggle. On behalf of his organization All Nepal Union of Students, he thanked the organizers for inviting him to this august gathering. He informed the gathering of the Nepalese students’ struggle against the monarchy on one hand and against the comprador bourgeois oppressors moving hand in glove with the Indian imperialists on the other. He also pointed out that the Nepalese people had taken part in India’s struggle for freedom and still have a common cause with the people of India for fighting against injustice. He expressed solidarity with the AIDSO in the latter’s revolutionary cause and movement for justice.

Comrade Provash Ghosh, the main speaker to address the meeting expressed, at the outset, deep shock at the recent natural calamity in which thousands of human lives were lost and huge public property destroyed. He urged upon all DSO activists to respond to the call by their leaders for relief collection, true to their ideal and cultural tradition. In his instructive and inspiring speech, Comrade Ghosh said: Since its inception 50 years back at the initiative of just 5 students in South Calcutta, the organization has now spread out over 21 states of the country. Such a spectacular organizational expansion was possible only because of application and cultivation of Marxism-Leninism and the revolutionary thoughts of Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, who was the true successor of lofty ideals of the Renaissance personalities of the country such as Raja Rammohan, Vidyasagar, Rabindranath, Prem-chand, Nazrul, Phooley, and the valiant freedom fighters and leaders like Netaji Suibhas Chandra Bose, Surya Sen, Asfaqullah, Bhagat Singh, Subramanium Bharti and others. Comrade Provash Ghosh remembered with respect the contributions and struggles of earlier organizers of the AIDSO who sweated to develop the organization, faced imprisonment or got shot and injured, some even embraced death of a martyr. Now the organization is conducting movements in different parts of the country on political, cultural and educational problems of people’s life and life of students. He added that the concept of scientific, democratic and secular education, which AIDSO demands can be traced back to the European Renaissance. In our country, too, Renaissance personalities considered education to be the backbone of a nation and demanded education for all. However, at present, under political parties of different hues and slogans, education is being snatched away from the majority of students. Education is being privatized and commercialized. Faced with acute crisis of capitalism, unemployment problem is intensifying. Factories are closing down, lakhs of workers are retrenched. Along with this, to gag the voice of protest, education is being restricted so that the analytical mind, power of analysis and inquiry do not flourish among the large majority of students and youths. Also, whereas great educationists and pioneers of Indian Renaissance like Rammohan, Vidyasagar or later still, Rabindranath, Saratchandra, were opposed to dogmatism and desired education to be isolated from religion, the ruling capitalist class today, in their own interest, is encouraging communalism through education in the name of traditionalisation or Indianisation of culture. Hindu fanaticism is being fanned up.

At the same time crisis-ridden capitalism-imperialism has given rise to narrow individualism, self-centrism. Earning maximum profit by maximum exploitation is what capitalism is based upon. This is controlling individual’s life and morals too. Hence crisis of values and morals is destroying even family life not only in the West, in our country as well. Earlier, during the thirties, forties and fifties even, students dreamt of a life of rich with ideals. Today, even students run after money and earning through smuggling, blackmailing, contract murder or even women trafickking. Capitalism is making man mechanical, bereft of values and ethics. It is Marxism-Leninism-Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s thought that can expose the true nature and reason of exploitation. So to denounce Marxism is to deny or turn a blind eye to the existence of exploitation itself. Even in America and other imperialist-capitalist countries, workers are engaging themselves in movements. ‘Down with globalization’, ‘Down with capitalism’, such slogans can be heard there, too.

Students and youths imbued with Marxism-Leninism-Comrade Shibdas Ghosh’s thoughts will have to brave all hazards and to fight for the cause of education as also to give support to movements of workers, peasants, women and other sections of society.

In conclusion, Comrade Provash Ghosh expressed his firm belief that the DSO would be continuously advancing equipped with revolutionary ideology and shaping out revolutionary life in a way that the next 50 years’ observance of the AIDSO would be held in a socialist India.

The mammoth students’ gathering was also addressed by different state leaders of AIDSO. They included Comrades Govind Rajalu from Andhra, Ram Avtar Sharma from MP, Om Prokash from Haryana, Swajar Khan from Kerala, Rajendra Verma from Orissa, Deepak Kumar from Bihar, Indrajit from Punjab, Rajmal Sharma from Rajasthan, Jiten Chaliha from Assam, Mohan Singh from Jharkhand, Babul Banik from Tripura, Joyesh Patel from Gujarat, Promode Kamble from Maharashtra, Prokash Saini from Delhi, Lilamoy Mondal from Chhattisgarh, Ramesh from Sikkim. Comrade Navendu Pal from West Bengal read out messages from fraternal organizations from Syria and Cuba. All the speakers pledged to continue the glorious battle started and carried through by DSO organisers of yesteryears. The meeting ended with a song rendered by the AIDSO Music Troupe.

A grand reunion of thousands of former and present AIDSO organisers, activists, supporters and sympathisers was held at the Salt Lake Stadium on December 29.

Dr. Sushil Kumar Mukhopa-dhyay, the veteran educationist and erstwhile Vice-Chancellor, Calcutta University inaugurated the Reunion and released a souvenir on this occasion.

Founding organiser-leaders of the AIDSO like Comrade Ranjit Dhar, Central Staff, SUCI, Comrade Manik Mukherjee, Central Staff, SUCI, and Comrade Asit Bhattacharyya, Comrade Krishna Chakraborti and Comrade Provash Ghosh, all three members of the Central Committee, SUCI, addressed the gathering. This was followed by cultural programmes.