(Inaugural Speech by Comrade Vinod Mishra at Delhi conference of AISA in February 1994)
AISA is the name of the star that has fast emerged on the horizon of student politics in recent years. On this historic occasion I salute this red star.
At the fag end of 20th century we are witness to a strange spectacle. Historic times seem to be moving back as if history itself is taking two steps backwards. While socialism changes to capitalism, Third world is facing the threat of neo-colonialism. Old definitions too are changing. Conservatives of yesteryears are now called reformers and the radicals of yesteryears are branded as conservatives today.
In this period of historical eclipse you represent a body of students which dares to swim against the tide preparing the ground for the next forward step of history.
Great is the responsibility and hence the challenge too. There will be times when you will find many a friend but there will also be times when you will have to go it alone. Victory belongs only to those who march ahead in the most difficult conditions.
In 70's we have seen the great student upsurge. For the first time in the independent India, inspired by revolutionary ideals and imbued with soaring revolutionary spirits – in Rabindranath Tagore's words: Jiban-mrityuke payer bhritya baniye (bringing life and death under one's command) – thousands of youth clashed with the brutal powers of the state. This immortal saga of valour and sacrifice is you valuable asset, your tradition.
Subsequently, forced by circumstances we had to adjust with the existing institutions of the society arid to quicken the pace of social change from within. You are the product of this second phase of the overall revolutionary movement. In this phase your success has grown out of the several unsuccessful attempts in different parts of India.
A proper combination of the revolutionary spirit of 70's and the tactical expertise of today provides the key to your advance; and this you shall never forget.
In today's context you have to work for a broad united front of Indian people against the increasing imperialist intervention in our country. You will have to be with the toiling masses in the front ranks of struggle for social change and you have to lead the mass of students in their struggle for better education and guaranteed employment.
Are these tasks mutually exclusive? Or does their simple arithmetical sum make up an integral whole? I think both these ideas are incorrect. Practice in due course shall help you combine various tasks in a proper manner, yet it can be said for sure that participation in struggle for social change provides the vital link in reaching at a comprehensive solution of the problem.
Just as the revolutionary character of a youth is determined by his integration with the toiling masses, so also the revolutionary credentials of a student-youth organisation depend very much on its active role in the struggles for social change.
All surveys and ideas that raise doubts regarding the revolutionary potential of students and youth are wrong—utterly wrong. Students are not a community standing in isolation with the society nor a community superimposed upon the society. The student community, is rather a mirror where subterranean social strings are clearly visible. Your victories in UP university elections, for example were the first signs of the receding wave of communal hysteria.
Despite all consumerist influence, in the backdrop of deepening social and national contradictions, students may, at the first instance, and that too quite easily, shed off such influences. You must keep faith on the revolutionary energy of students and youth and must keep faith on India's toiling masses.
Our party believes in pointing out only the general course that the student-youth movement should take. Owing to their distinguished features, their youthful dynamism, students and youth shall traverse this course in their own peculiar way. It is neither possible nor desirable to dictate every step in advance.
In your long march a number of forts have crumbled, a number of Maths have fallen, but many more still await to be smashed.
With hopes for newer victories, I, on behalf of the Party Central Committee, greet your Conference.