We youth are concerned about what is happening to our freedom and rights in our colleges and universities. We are worried whether we will get a decent job after we finish our studies. But when we express our concern and demand our rights we are beaten up like criminals. Tell me what is wrong with the following demands for which we should get punishment of beating and water cannons.
⦁ State government should stop the fee hikes in education
⦁ Transparent admission procedure without corruption in all educational institutes
⦁ Democratic student elections in all colleges and universities and college campuses
⦁ Employment for all and recruitment of people in all vacant posts across the state
⦁ Establishment of heavy industries in the state for employment opportunities
⦁ Unemployment allowance to people
These were the demands raised by youth of W Bengal when they took up a campaign there.
Students Federation Of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) with other twelve youth and students wings organized a two day Nabanna Chalo campaign to submit thousands of applications signed by unemployed youth. The participants started marching from Singur(West Bengal), the venue of abandoned Tata Nano car plant as symbolic gesture on September 12. The march reached Howrah station in the evening and was resumed on the morning of 13 September. As the rally peacefully made its way towards Nabanna state secretariat, the people were met with police barricades and several protestors were lathi charged. The police also used water cannons and tear gas shells. Hundreds of students were injured and five of them were seriously injured.
Now let us take a look at some data from recent surveys.
According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18, unemployment has risen in West Bengal both in the urban (4.8% to 6.5%) as well as the rural areas (2.7% to 3.8%) between 2011- 12 to 2017-18. Moreover, unemployment is quite high among the educated workforce, especially those with post-graduate and above degrees as well as those with diplomas.
According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2017-18, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education (18-23 age group) in 2017-18 was only 18.7% in West Bengal, as against the national average of 25.8%, with the GER among women in the state even lower at 17.6%. With only 1341 colleges in West Bengal, the number of colleges per lakh population (18-23 years) is only 12 while the national average is 28. Average enrolment per college in West Bengal is 1170, whereas the national average is only 698.
Considering the growing joblessness and the poor status of higher education in West Bengal, the demands of the protestors are very justified. Spark strongly condemns the police brutality on the peaceful protestors and supports the fight of the youth for their rights.