All India Students Federation
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (February 2017)|
|Abbreviation||All India Students Federation|
|Motto||Study & Struggle|
|Formation||12 August 1936|
|Valli Ullah Khadri|
AISF was the first Indian organisation of students which worked for the independence of India. The foundation conference of the AISF was held in the Ganga Prasad Memorial Hall of Lucknow, on August 12, 1936. 936 delegates representing 200 local and 11 provincial organisations from all over the country participated in the conference. The conference received messages of good wishes from Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, Srinivas Shastri and many other prominent personalities. The conference was the biggest gathering of students at all India level till that time. All the universities were represented. P.N. Bhargava welcomed the delegates as the Chairman of the Reception Committee. The conference was presided by M.A. Jinnah and inaugurated by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Prem Narayan Bhargava was elected the first general secretary of the AISF. TheStudents’ Tribue became the first organ of the AISF.
The second conference of the AISF was held after a short interval of only three months, beginning on 22 November 1936, in Lahore. It mainly discussed and adopted the constitution of the AISF. The conference was attended by about 150 delegates under the president-ship of Sarat Chandra Bose, who called upon the students to derive inspiration from the Russian revolution. The conference was also addressed by Pt Govind Ballabh Pant. The conference decided to affiliate the AISF with the World Students’ Association. The Lahore AISF conference prepared a Demand Charter of Students as a basis of countrywide mass student movement.
The last months of 1936 and the whole of 1937 saw unprecedented and active mass movements of students and youth, an upsurge of students, mainly under the leadership of the AISF. Students in Aligarh, Faizabad, Kanpur and other places were punished for taking part in the political activities. As a result, there were big protest meetings and students’ strikes.
Students of U.P. went on protest actions in August 1937 against the arrest of student leaders Ramesh Chandra Sinha and J. J. Bhattacharya. Over 15 thousand students went in protest demonstration in front of the Chief Minister (then called ‘Prime Minister’) of UP Govind Ballabh Pant in support of their 37-point demand charter. Big movement broke out in Bengal in support of the hunger-striking Andaman prisoners in 1937. AISF played an important role in it. There were widespread lathicharges and arrests. Protests against those attacks also took place in the far-away Madras, where protest marches were taken out. For the first time in India’s history our All India Students’ Day was observed on 20 November 1937.
AISF began to publish Students’ Tribune from November 1936 with twin aim of impacting correct and healthy direction to the student movement. Students’ Callwas being published from Bombay and Chhatro Abhijan from Calcutta.
The third conference of the AISF was held in Madras from 1 to 3 January 1938. The conference elected Ansar Harvani as the general secretary. The Fourth AISF conference held in Calcutta on 1 and 2 January 1939, where more than 800 delegates attended representing over 40 thousand members. Besides, 1500 student observers also took part. M.L. Shah was elected the new general secretary of the AISF.
The Second World War broke out on 1 September 1939. AISF organised an anti-imperialist rally and convention, in Nagpur on 8–9 October 1939. Fifth AISF Conference was held on 1–2 January 1940 in Delhi. It was attended by 500 delegates and 200 observers. The conference strongly condemned the War. It took a decision to observe 26 January as the Independence Day. The conference re-elected ML Shah as the general secretary.
Earlier in March 1940, the textile workers supported by the students led by AISF, went on a strike against British rule. AISF was the first organisation, which protested against the institution of the Defense of India Ordinance in Bengal. The British government banned the AISF booklet titled Role of the Students in the Anti-imperialist struggle. A student movement broke out in Calcutta demanding removal of the Holwell Monument in 1940.
Sixth conference of the AISF was held at Nagpur, on 25–26 December 1940. The result of the increasing political-organisational conflict within the AISF before and during the conference led to a split in the AISF at Nagpur conference. Consequently, there emerged two organisations with the name of the AISF – one AISF was being led by M. Farooqui as the general secretary, consisting mainly of the communists, and other AISF was being led by M.L. Shah, consisting mainly of the non-communists. Prof. Satish Kalelkar tried to bring the two groups together, but he failed due to hardened positions of some student leaders. Both fractions held their separate conferences. Later the non-communist fraction become non-existent and AISF became a communist students organisation. AISF Nagpur conference demanded formation of a national government.The AISF jumped whole–hog into the countrywide mass anti-fascist movements and preparations to face the fascist advance. A “Defense Convention” of students was organised in Delhi on 15 May 1942. Just a few months later the Congress launched Quit India Movement all over the country on 9 August 1942, in which AISF actively participated.
Large areas of the country including Bombay, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, Madras Bengal etc. were severely affected by the Great Famine of 1943. At the initiative of the AISF, a joint Famine Relief Committee under the chairmanship Dr B.C. Roy was organised in September 1943 and unleashed a campaign of famine relief and related works all over the country. It collected money and food on a big scale and organised a number of cultural programmes, both to raise funds and create awareness. They opened shops to sell food grains at reasonable prices in Bengal, in large numbers and also opened several kitchens providing free food for those affected by famine and hunger. The Bengal Provincial Students Federation alone conducted about 86 kitchens run by 3000 volunteers, where at least 26 thousand people used to take meals every day. The British government had imposed a ban on the SF in Bihar, even when it was busy working for famine relief.
The eighth conference of the AISF was held in Calcutta from 28 to 31 December 1944. It was attended by 987 delegates representing seventy six thousand members. Addressing the conference, Dr B.C. Roy and Sarojini Naidu highly praised the relief work done by the AISF. The conference was followed by a series of mass movements, spontaneous and organised, singly or jointly. 26 January 1945 was organised by various student organisations jointly as the ‘Independence Day’.
The Second World War ended on 9 May 1945. Three officers of the Indian National Army (INA) were put on trial by the British government immediately after the War ended – Sehgal, Dhillon and Shahnawaz Khan. A countrywide movement was unleashed demanding release of these INA officers.The town of Tamiku observed a general strike at the call of the AISF on 31 October 1945, with this demand. More than 5 thousand students brought out a demonstration on 21 November 1945. The police lathicharged and fired without any warning, three persons died and several got injured. There was complete protest strike in all the schools and colleges the next day. There was police firing again, in which eleven persons died. It was followed by a massive protest rally on more than two lakh people, the next day. Again there were lathicharges and firings. There were countryside protests all over the country led by the AISF. 30 thousand students went on strike in Bombay.
A meeting of youth representatives from 63 countries took place in London in November 1945. It was at this meeting that the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) was established. The AISF was represented by Miss K. Boomla who polled highest votes in elections for the executive.
The ninth AISF conference began Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, on 20 January 1946, attended by 571 delegates. The place of the conference was named after Rameshwar, a student martyr killed in police firing in the movement in support of the INA officers in Calcutta. The conference also condoled the death of B. Golvala, the manager of AISF journal the student, who was murdered by the goons of mill owners in Bombay.
The historic Naval uprising took place in Bombay in February 1946. Workers and students also came out in support actively. AISF played an active part in mobilizing students in support of the Naval Ratings.
An international students conference was held starting on 31 August 1946 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was attended by over 300 delegates from 39 countries of the world. The AISF was represented by Gautam Chattopadhyaya. The conference founded the International Union of Students (IUS). Meanwhile, a special conference of AISF was held in Nagpur on 6–9 June 1946. Its main theme was the democratization of education and It prepared a detailed document on the subject.
Large-scale communal riots broke out in Bengal and elsewhere in the country in 1946 leading to barbaric and inhuman massacres of innocents of both the communities. The AISF played a great role in facing and preventing the riots wherever possible. It undertook relief and rehabilitation of the affected people on a large scale. AISF took out the first Hindu-Muslim unity procession in Delhi in the very midst of the riots and initiated the ‘Riot Relief Fund’ in Bengal. The student volunteers worked round the clock in the refugee camps, in many places including Patna, Kanpur, Agra, Allahabad, Aligarh, Chittagong, etc.
The tenth AISF conference began on 3 January 1947 in Delhi participated in by 1500 delegates and observers. Immediately after the conference, the AISF observed 21 January 1947 as Vietnam Day. Fifty thousand students of Calcutta went on strike on that day, a huge procession was taken out and a big rally organised. Police firing happened and two students including AISF leader Dhiraranjan, were killed on the spot.It led to more protests.The Vietnam Students’ Association passed a resolution in its Hanoi session in memory of the Indian student martyrs in March 1947.
In 1947 August 15 India got freedom from British rule. AISF organised Independence day functions and gatherings all over the country. Processions were held and effigy of British imperialism was burnt in many places.
AISF in Free India
After independence, AISF concentrated its activities mainly in educational issues, Anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle. It addressed various problems of students like rise in fees, democratization of education, anti-imperialist struggle, etc., after independence and worked for students’ unity against communal threats. AISF played a main role in the students protests against Nizam’s rule in princely state of Hyderabad.
The eleventh conference of the AISF was held in Bombay in December 1947. It was attended by over 1500 delegates representing more than one lakh members. Morarji Desai, as the chief minister of Bombay, announced a ban on the conference on its very first day. Therefore, it had to be held secretly. The Working Committee did not get the permission to hold an open rally. Therefore, it decided to confront the government and defy the ban. Consequently, there were clashes with the police, leading to lathicharges and firings. The police atrocities were opposed by AISF through a Protest Day on 9 January 1948. The Indian Model Constitution fixed the voting age at 21 years. AISF conference demanded that it be reduced to 18. It also demanded a provision of job guarantee in the constitution.
The twelfth conference of the AISF was held on 23–27 July 1949 at Calcutta. It was attended by 340 delegates representing Eighty thousand members. In the meantime there were widespread movements for the formation of and elections to the student unions in educational institutes, all over the country, in which the AISF played an active role. By 1952, it had become an important demand of the AISF.
The 13th conference of the AISF was held in Hyderabad on 1–5 January 1953. It was attended by about 400 delegates representing a membership of more than one lakh. It was preceded and followed by countrywide mass movements on the questions of student unions, reduction in fees etc.
The 14th conference of the AISF was held on 5–8 January 1955 in Lucknow and it paid special attention to organisational issues and the ongoing struggles for the liberation of the Portuguese colony of Goa. AISF appealed to the students to participate in the Goa liberation movement on a big scale. The AISF, Youth Congress and the Samajwadi Yuvak Sabha organised joint programmes in Delhi on 12 July. 9 August (1955) was observed as “Portuguese, Quit India” day. 250 volunteers including 59 communists entered Goa on 3 August 1955. The Portuguese soldiers opened fire in which many were killed including two Communists V.K. Thorat and Nityanand Saha. Demonstrations were held on 5 August and students went on strike on 13 August. More than 4 lakh students and others came out on the streets and widespread strikes resulted. Satyagrahis from all over the country entered Goa on 15 August and were fired upon. 23 year old Karnail Singh was killed when he tried to save his leader V.C. Chitale. The general secretary of the AISF Sukhendu Mazumdar was present with AISF leader C.K. Chandrappan on 15 August at the Goa border, to help the student satyagrahis. A massive rally of over 2 lakh people took place in Delhi on 16 August 1955, which was participated in huge numbers by the students.
The foundation conference of the All India Youth Federation (AIYF), youth wing of CPI, was held in New Delhi from 28 April to 3 May 1959. AISF welcomed this and supported AIYF.
The Chinese troops launched a massive attack across the Indian borders in 1962. The AISF, along with other progressive forces, unequivocally condemned the Chinese aggression in clear-cut terms. The split of CPI in 1964 also led internal differences in AISF. These members who supported the newly formed Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)],split AISF. The splitters formed Students’ Federation of India (SFI) in 1970 after separating out of the AISF.
AISF re-organised after the split and continued its student struggle and activities. The AISF and the AIYF held their national conferences together at Pondicherry from 29 December 1965 to 2 January 1966.It was in this conference that the AISF decided to affiliate itself to the AIYF for better coordination.
In August 1965, the government-aided schools in Bihar suddenly announced an increase in their fees and Hostel charges were also increased. AISF started a massive student protest, known as “August Movement”, to protest against the fee hike. AISF mobilized students from all over Bihar in the state capital, Patna, who demonstrated before the State Secretariat on 9 August 1965. Police launched an unprovoked attack on the students in the most brutal manner and this led to deat of some students and many got injuries. soon the protest spread all over the state, making Wide public opinion, cutting across all the political opinions and organisations, severely condemned the police action. State government interfered and the fee hike was withdrawn.
Pakistan attacked India in September 1965. AISF called upon the students of the country on 16 September 1965, to actively participate in the defense of the country and collected defence funds, organised donation of blood and took up other relief work. A mobile exhibition on national defense was organised by the AISF.
Motto & Organisational structure
The organisation now works for the betterment of students with its focus on peace, progress and scientific socialism. It has the banner "Freedom, Peace, Progress."Study and Struggle is the motto of AISF.
AISF as an organisation has been continuously fighting for the issues faced by students and the society at large. In India the federation has organized several awareness programmes (Dramas, Street theatre performances, Mimes, Dance, Short films, etc.) and mass rallies to address various social problems in states such as, West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Pondicherry, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Gujarat, Assam and Bihar.
The AISF has state committees in most states in India. The Administration structure of the federation is as follows,
1. Polit Bureau - National executive body
2. State executive body
3. State administrative body
4. District administrative body
5. Block level committee
6. Institutions level unions
The AISF national level conference was held in Hyderabad University in 2013. During this conference the following leaders were elected as representatives,
AISF National Conferences
Founder Conference 12 and 13 th August 1936 Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh)
2 nd Conference on 22 November 1936, in Lahore
3 rd conference was held in Madras from 1 to 3 January 1938.
4th conference held in Calcutta on 1 and 2 January 1939
5th Conference was held on 1–2 January 1940 in Delhi.
6th conference was held at Nagpur, on 25–26 December 1940.
7th A “Defense Convention” of students was organised in Delhi on 15 May 1942.
8th conference was held in Calcutta from 28 to 31 December 1944.
- P K Vasudevan Nair
- A B Bardhan
- C K Chandrappan
- Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy - Present General secretary of Communist Party of India.
- D Raja
- Hemu Kalani - Sindh Freedom fighter and Student leader, who was hanged to death by British
- Satypal Dang - Former minister in the government of Punjab
- Atul Kumar Anjan - senior CPI leader and national secretary.
- Amarjeet Kour
- V. S. Sunil Kumar - Minister of Agriculture in Kerala
- Benoy Viswam - Former national secretary of AISF and Former minister in the Government of Kerala
- O.N.V Kurup – Malayalam poet & former leader
- Malayatoor Ramakrishnan – Malayalam writer & former leader
- T. Srinivas (Karnataka)
- Soni Tangamam (Keral)
- Ramkrishna Phanda (Orissa)
- Vijendra Kesari
- Kanhaiya Kumar - President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union.
- Vishwajeet Kumar - Present General secretary of AISF.
- Syed Valiullah Khadri- Present President of AISF
- "Origin Of AISF In India". communistindian.wordpress.com. Retrieved 3 June 2016.