Youth for Equality, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Journey of YFE....

Students, citizens and professionals of different shades were involved in various campaigns before the Youth For Equality appeared on the scene in May 2006. These campaigns were reform in education, justice for all, protest against the criminalization of politics, and campus oriented problems to make India vibrant. On April 4, 2006 a perfect storm was gathering in the student circle all over India when HRD Ministry, Government of India announced 27% OBC Reservation in Centrally funded educational institutions. The Youth For Equality formed and gradually the organization has taken shapes larger than the ambit of Reservation and challenged the reservation policy scientifically. Youth For Equality is an all India organization encompassing men and women of all walks of life irrespective of caste, creed, class, religion and region. It draws its strength from its large support base mainly from the youth and students of India along with all the responsible citizen of the country. The educated, sensible and law abiding citizens of India showing their unrestrained enthusiasm and support for Youth For Equality by each passing day.
We aim at Casteless society i.e. society where there is no discrimination on the basis of birth mark. Education for All with special emphasis on women and children education. Good Governance Sensitive, honest, transparent, pro-people governance. Employment opportunity for the all the needy people. The Gandhian model of employment, where a delicate balance of man and machine, must be followed as India is a populous country. Health for all in a healthy environment. Develop and consolidate a feeling of National Unity among people irrespective of religion, caste or province. Promote and nurture excellence to make India a superpower.

Major events that marked our presence:

April-May 2006- Month long protest and agitation. 13th May 2006 - MUMBAI: Peacefully protesting Students had beaten up by police....SHAME! SHAME! We all know what happened at Mumbai on 13th May. We saw it on our TV sets, read it in the papers, heard it on radio. We are all deeply anguished and our blood boiled when we saw scenes of how the Mumbai students were being beaten up. 13th May - In New Delhi few meters away from the Rashtrapati Bhawan and a stone throwing distance from the Prime Minister’s Office on 9th of May 2006 water cannon spread on the medical students with a speed prohibited by the United Nations Human Rights Commission and World Health Organization. In Mumbai, the city’s medical students sitting on a protest march at the road heading towards the Governor’s residence. On 12th of May 2006 they were beaten black and blue by policemen as if the medical students are dreaded criminal. The clear footage on the electronic media can make a country shame and can make one mistake that if they were watching the Tiananmen Square brutality live. The hunger strike has been joined by students of IIT, JNU and DU among others.
We were joined by various organizations and students all across India, and the movement against reservations and populist policies grew in strength with each passing day. 19th May – Huge rally organized by YFE in JNU. During the countrywide agitation the Government under pressure from students and people from all sections of society agreed to talk with the agitating students. First a three members committee comprising three senior cabinet ministers Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Shri P. Chidambaram and Shri Arjun Singh and then Dr. Manmohan Singh talked to the representatives of Youth For Equality. Youth For Equality representative placed the Charter of Demands before the Government. 22nd May - The Hon'ble Defense Minister in an official meeting assured that the general category seats in any particular institute shall not be reduced and quota shall be implemented in a phased manner as and when seats increase. He declined to address the main issue of formation of an expert commission for review of the whole reservation policy. 23rd May - The UPA government had a meeting with the left parties and a politically motivated press release issued. Which stated that the percentage of reservation for OBC was fixed at 27% and that it would be implemented from the academic session 2007 in one goes? 26th May - Negotiations held at the highest level with the Prime Minister who assured (verbally) that there would not be any reduction in the number of general category seats in each institute and reservation for OBCs in higher institutions would not be implemented till such increase in total seats was not carried out.. He also said that he would look into the setting up of the expert commission.
A purported, unsigned and undated statement was given to the students on behalf of the Government of India by the Health Secretary which did not address any of the demands of students and medicos. 27th May - Despite the assurances of the Prime Minister, the HRD Minister announced that the policy for reservation for OBCs in higher education etc would l be implemented w.e.f. academic year 2007 and would not be in graded manner. He declined the set up of the expert commission.

After this announcement by HRD Minister, the Government (i.e. Health Secretary) announced that he has written letters to some institutes to ascertain as to whether they can increase the seats so that general category seats were not reduced. This information was sought from these institutes till 15.6.2006.

29th May - The highest court of the Country intervened and directed the medicos to call of the strike. At the same time the Court candidly asked the Government: 1) What is the basis for the determination/classification as to who belongs to "Other Backward Class",2) The Modalities to be adopted for implementation of the policy in question.YFE, JNU started the historic hunger strike at the Admn Block and continued for 33 long days.
27th May 2006 – Huge YFE Rally at the Ram Leela Ground at New Delhi - Navjyot Singh Sidhu, Shiv Khera, Joginder Singh and Prof. P.V. Indiresan
addressed the gathering and ignited the passion in youth present from every part of India. It is from the platform of this rally several institutions of India announced to organize hunger strike in their respective institute. JNU and IIT-Delhi were prominent among others. 9th November 2006 – YFE Contested the JNU Student Union Elections - What kind of a nation disowns its own people? What kind of country decides that genius costs too much? That merit does not hold much water and that caste is the only and sole criteria to judge everything? JNU is considered as the bastion of left politics. But the left also shunned the CLASS and adopted CASTE as their identity to save their vote bank. Considering all the pros and cons we the Youth For Equality, JNU Chapter decided to contest the JNUSU election. The JNU election offered many surprises. The YFE maintained lead in all the four Central Penal posts viz. President (Sonika Tyagi), Vice-President (Brundaban Mishra), General Secretary (Upasana Dhankar) and Joint Secretary (Babita Sharma) till the near end of the counting when the left parties snatched the victory from the mouth of YFE. YFE lost the 2006 election with a narrow margin and waiting for another day to prevail. The Youth For Equality is honored and overwhelmed with the massive support of the JNU student.

5th February 2007 – YFE Contested 1 Seats in the BruhanMumbai Municipal Election - The Youth For Equality always believe in action. Sanjeet Shukla, a 23-year-old law student of Mithibai College and the sole candidate fielded by Youth For Equality (YFE) has become a hit with Sion voters for the BruhanMumbai Muncipal Election. The YFE’s popularity has the Congress worried. The party has decided to sideline its incumbent councilor, Babubhai Bhawanji, by fielding Upendra Doshi, general secretary of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee, to take on YFE candidate Sanjeet Shukla. The outcome of the election was also impressive as the YFE secured 4th position and garnered good number of votes. 10th April 2007 – YFE Contested 3 Seats in the Delhi Municipal Election - Youth For Equality, during the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections tried to prove the point that “participation not refrainment” is the answer. A conscious decision was taken to contest the DMC election and three candidates were filed from three different constituencies. Dr. Sanjay Rajput contested from Kasturba Nagar (South Delhi), Pradeep Jha from Mukherjee Nagar(North Delhi) and Dr. P. Joshi from East-Rohtas Nager (Shahdara). Students from JNU, DU and AIIMS along with others campaigned vigorously for all the three candidates. In all the three constituencies YFE candidates surprised the political pandits when they secured 3rd position only after the two national parties BJP and Congress. Jan-Feb 2007 – YFE Convinced Leading Lawyers of India to argue against the OBC Quota - The Youth For Equality spearheaded widespread unrest across the country to oppose the illogical and unscientific OBC reservation policy. YFE representatives met nearly 700 dignitaries which includes members of Mandal Commission (2nd Backward Classes Commission) and Kaka Kalelkar Commission (1st Backward Classes Commission) to build up the cases against the OBC reservation policy of the Government. All the senior lawyers of legal profession which includes Senior Advocates Late L.M. Singhvi, Ad. Harish Shalve, Ad. Fali S. Nariman, Ad. Ashok Desai, Ad. P.P. Rao, Ad. Rajeev Dhawan, Ad. K.K. Venugopal, Ad. Mukul Rahtogi and Ad. Indu Malhotra to take the cases at the Supreme Court. 29th March 2007 – SC Stayed the OBC Reservation Bill - In a landmark Order the Hon’able Supreme Court on 29th of March 2007 stayed the OBC reservation act passed by the Parliament. The Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and L S Panta delivered the verdict on the batch of petitions filed by Youth For Equality through various organizations and individuals challenging the decision as being ultra vires (unconstitutional). Keeping the petitions in mind, the Bench stated that Section 6 of the Constitution was not applicable since no data on OBCs has been collected in the last 76 years. 17th May 2007 – SC REFERRED THE OBC QUATA CASE TO LARGER BENCH - The Supreme Court on 17th of May 2006 referred the issue of 27% reservation for OBCs in central educational institutions to a larger Bench.

YFE’s rural contact programme covered 2000 villages to create awareness about the government’s deceit and deception. YFE’s struggle generated debate, tact, talk and financial engineering for the entire nation to increase educational infrastructure. Not a single medical or engineering seat has been increased in the history of independent India despite the large increase of student ratio. It is because of Youth For Equality there is now provision for massive increase of seats. YFE protest forced the national government to offer a whopping Rs. 224 Crores for JNU alone to increase infrastructure as recommended by Moily Committee. The YFE struggles successfully to CSIR-UGC Fellowship! And also exposed what the leftist have done in one year – beached the trust of the students and accepted lower amount and unacceptable date for the release of UGC sponsored Scholarship. The YFE protest prompted the UPA government (where left is also a part) established Knowledge Commission to recommend 1500 new colleges (professional/Vocational) and 300 new Universities to be established in India. The YFE’s agenda includes running schools for the deprived in DU and in Kanpur, Running of Hospitals in Delhi and in IIT- Kanpur, Enlightening the society in Mumbai through the initiative called Doctors For You, fighting the case against irrational reservation at the Supreme Court, making presentation in front of the Minority Commission for the education of the Minorities, taking part with the landless tribals in the Janadesh Rally now in Delhi, fighting castiesm inside the campus as well as at work place and endeavoring to end poverty by the year 2015 in collaboration with the Art of Living-United Nation Millennium Campaign.

Hemant Kumar Nidhi Singh
Chief Campaign Coordinator YFE Representative


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