Youth for Equality
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Youth for Equality (YFE) is an Indian organization involved with the 2006 anti-reservation protests, which started to counter the Government of India's move to implement 27% reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in institutes of higher education (twenty central universities, the IITs, IIMs and 9 premier medical colleges like AIIMS and JIPMER). Ultimately, the organisation opposes all reservation based on castes in India.
On 5 April 2006, Human Resources Development minister of India, Arjun Singh, announced to the media that the government intended to introduce reservations for OBCs by 27% in central colleges, including IITs, IIMs, NITs, AIIMS, LHMC, MAMC, UCMS, JIPMER, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indraprastha University, Delhi University, and many others. Youth for Equality was conceived by students at the University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS) expressing discontent over the proposal; other founding members include students from AIIMS, LHMC, VMMC (Vardhman Mahavir Medical College), MAMC (Maulana Azad Medical College), Delhi University, Indraprastha University and JNU in Delhi which later spread all across India.
As of June 2006, YFE's website [ www.youthforequality.com] states that it has over 16,000,00 members, and links to 12 regional chapter weblogs. The group's membership includes medical students and professionals, students at public and private colleges (including IITs, IIMs, NITs, AIIMS, LHMC, MAMC, UCMS, DU, IP university and JNU]), parents of students, Residents' Welfare Associations (RWAs) (under the banner of United Residents Joint Action), and corporate bodies and now thousands of students across entire India.
Youth for Equality was a banner under which the students were protesting against caste based reservations. Though youth for equality was formed in context with reservation protest, it is actually a platform to fight against any kind of injustice to people. It is now an organisation that is working towards formation of an undivided society, and prosperous India. Though YFE consists of mainly Professional ( a reference to some technical courses in India) students and professionals, a significant part is also played by non professional students and workers. Its activities were very successful and its call for strike got nation-wide support crippling the medical infrastructure of India. In addition to complete roll-back of the proposed reservation, the striking protesters had demanded that an expert committee comprising members from non-political organizations to review the existing reservation policy and find out whether reservation for OBCs is required at all. Also, they demand that no penal action be taken against the protesters and publication of a white paper by the government, making its stand clear on reservation. The indefinite hunger strike organized by YFE had nearly 150 students joining the hunger strike that entered its ninth day as on 23 May 2006. Resident doctors from all over India joined the protests crippling the health infrastructure of a number of cities. This caused great human suffering, and lead the Supreme Court to criticize the doctors. The movement was handled with a heavy hand by police.
The latest protest under the YFE banner was held on 25th Apr 2008 in the Supreme court of India lawns, specifically protesting against reservation in post graduate courses by the Govt of India.
YFE is amongst the most recent students organisations in India. Generally the students movements are used by political parties, this is a unique non political students organisation in that no political party has yet been associated with the movement. YFE has challenged the Decision of Parliament in Apex Court and obtained stay on reservations. It may be noted that some states in India (e.g.: Tamil Nadu) can have up to 70% seats reserved for different classes.
Youth for equality fielded a candidate in the 2007 BMC (BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation) elections Ward No. 167 (Sion-Koliwada). The candidate secured 30% of the votes secured by the winning candidate. Also, apart from the two major national political parties YFE defeated all regional parties in this ward.
In the parliament election of 2009, YFE put up a people's candidate from NEW DELHI constituency, who came fourth. This may be regarded as the foray into electoral politics by one of the most talked about youth organisations in India.
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