ABVP at 76: Living the Bharatiya tradition of ‘Struggle to Solution’

VSK Telangana    09-Jul-2024
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Whenever we think of protests these days, the image that comes to mind is chaotic mobs, roadblocks and nuisance. Lately, protests have become a synonym for rioting and violence in Bharat. Is there no way to show dissent or disagreement with the ruling dispensation other than violence, road blockage, and rioting? Has this always been the case? Is there any alternative available? Let’s find out.

Bharat has been a civilisational entity for millennia, with and without political unity. It would not be a hyperbole to state that society, rather than the State, was the focal point of the traditional Bharatiya life. Though a lot has changed with the colonial intrusion and aggression, society continues to perform its function as a prominent check against the excesses of the State. Gandhiji did nothing new when he started civil disobedience and satyagraha for Swaraj. The ancient ruler-ruled relationship in India, which Gandhiji was fully aware of, was the main source of inspiration for his practice of satyagraha. He explicitly acknowledged his debt to this tradition in ‘Hind Swaraj’. Distinguished scholar Dharampal has written a brilliant account, titled ‘Civil Disobedience in Indian Tradition’, of such movements during early British colonial rule. Even in ancient Bharat, historian A L Basham (‘The wonder that was India’) notes, “the Indian town mob was dangerously inflammable, and the king who seriously outraged popular opinion did so at his own peril.”

Historically, public protests or civil disobedience were not uncommon in Bharat. However, the yakṣa-praśna is whether this is a dead tradition or if there are legatees of this tradition who struggle for lokasangrah (welfare of all) with just methods, unlike the violent Breaking India forces of anarchy. The answer is a big YES! Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the largest student organisation in the world, has been agitating and struggling for the Indian education community and society at large with a solution-centric approach for the past 75 years. In a letter to Alasinga Perumal and his young followers in Madras, titled ‘To my brave boys’, our eternal fountain of inspiration, Swami Vivekananda commands: “Push on with the organisation. Nothing else is necessary but these — love, sincerity, and patience. It is life to do good, and it is death not to do good to others. Feel, my children, feel; feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden; feel till the heart stops and the brain reels and you think you will go mad — then pour the soul out at the feet of the Bhagwan and then will come power, help, and indomitable energy. Struggle, struggle…”!

​Struggle was the command of our hero, and we have not looked backwards ever since. ABVP has led and taken active participation in countless national movements, awareness drives, and agitations against oppressive legislations and policies, breaking Indian forces, and corruption since its inception in 1948 (registered on July 9, 1948).

In June 1948, we demanded that Vande Mataram be the national song and Bharat be the official name of our country. In 1961, we fought for the liberation of Goa. Through a national mass protest against the Indian Government in Delhi on September 27, 1973, we demanded nuclear autonomy, the voting age to be 18 years, student representation in university administration, etc. ABVP played a pivotal role in restoring democracy during the dark emergency days. Tens of thousands of ABVP karyakartas were arrested, tortured, and assaulted, but our spirits could never be broken. We emerged as a much bigger force after the emergency.

In 1983, through ‘Assam Bachao Aandolan,’ thousands of volunteers surveyed the border region and spread awareness regarding illegal immigration from Bangladesh. We led the students’ front in movements like Bofors corruption (1987), Kashmir Bachao Aandolan (1990), Ramjanmabhoomi Aandolan (1990), ‘Jan Sangharsh Rally’ against criminalisation and corruption in politics (1996), National Protest against rising terrorism outside Parliament (2002), Shiksha Bachao Aandolan (2004), Movement and martyrdoms against naxal Movement (including Nandigram Violence, 2008), several movements against the commercialisation of education, West Bengal Save Campus Movement (2015), ‘Chalo Kerela’ rally against red terror (2017), and the list goes on and on.

Notably, tens of thousands of students were part of these movements and agitations, but neither the protestors mishandled any civilian or security personnel, nor was any rioting reported. ‘Knowledge, Character, and Unity’ are our watchwords. We are not braindead zombies mindlessly following alien ‘isms’ and breaking Bharat agendas. Hence, unlike aandolanjeevis, we do not struggle to create confusion and anarchy. History is the witness that, sooner or later, we have succeeded through our sheer willpower and clarity of deśa-kāla bodha in every endeavour we have undertaken. Such is the character and perseverance of ABVP karyakartas. Such is our connection to our traditional roots. Such is our commitment to the national cause. It is ABVP that proves by example that students’ power is not nuisance power.

Students’ power is the nation’s power! On this national Students Day and our 76th Foundation Day, we reaffirm our commitment to rebuilding Bharat by not merely looking for solutions but by becoming the solutions. Charaiveti Charaiveti! Onwards Onwards!