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Tax Billionaires and Invest the Money in Building Schools and Universities: SFI

The Student Federation of India (SFI) has passed a series of resolutions concerning the current state of education, the New Education Policy (NEP), and the Joshimath issue, among others.

The Student Federation of India (SFI) has passed a series of resolutions concerning the current state of education, the New Education Policy (NEP), and the Joshimath issue, among others.

In its statement, SFI highlights how the concept of equitable access to education began to crumble in the education section with the closure of educational institutions and the sudden shift toward online learning during the pandemic.

"The Modi government took advantage of the pandemic to pass the New National Education Policy, which paves the way for the centralisation, commercialisation, and communalisation of education. They have drastically reduced education budget allocations. Scholarships and hostels for adivasi, minority and SC (Scheduled Castes) students have been destroyed by the Central government. This served as a prominent factor for the increased number of suicides among the students from the marginalised communities who are studying in the IITs, IIMs, NITs, and other Central institutions."

The student organisation notes how the government themselves revealed in the Parliament that 112 students have died by suicide in the Central educational institutions from 2014 to 2021.

"Among them, 24 students belong to the SC Category, and 41 students belong to OBC (Other Backward Classes) category. The Union government has not taken any measures to address this issue. Recently, we have also seen the suicides of Darshan Solanki of IIT Bombay, Stefan Sunny of IIT Madras, and Nidhin Sharma of NIT Calicut in the same week."

Given the present situation, SFI has announced several action programmes "to be undertaken to fight against such an anti-student government."

These programmes include a draft alternative education policy.

"In the upcoming days, we will also begin discussing the document. Everyone is welcome to submit ideas and viewpoints to SFI. With the help of all societal segments, our goal is to create a final document. SFI accepts comments on this alternative policy document until March 31, 2023."

Moreover, SFI will hold a campus referendum against National Education Policy.

"We have to take united action to make it successful. So, it is necessary to hold a meeting of a joint platform of like-minded student organisations in every state to make it successful."

Furthermore, the statement cites the annual inequality survey of Oxfam India, which found that 1% of the tax on wealth of the 98 billionaires of India could fund the total yearly expenditure of the department of school education and literacy under the Ministry of Education; at the same time, 4% of tax on their wealth can take care of Mid-Day-Meal programme for 17 years or Samagra Sikshya Abhiyan for six years.

The study revealed that the wealth of Indian billionaires shot up to more than double during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Billionaires saw their combined fortune count rise by 39% to 142%, a massive margin of 103%. So, taxing rich people's gains from the capital can help reduce inequality while keeping up overall prosperity. The revenues from taxation must be invested in public infrastructure such as schools, universities or research. We have to organise a campaign with the slogan, "Tax the Corporate - Free Education Campaign."

Other programmes announced in the statement include huge rallies in different corners of the country on March 23, the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev.

The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of SFI has also extended its support and solidarity with the affected people of Joshimath. SFI units in Uttarakhand have been actively engaged in the relief works.

"SFI CEC has urged all our units to carry out an intensive collection of relief funds and materials for the affected people of Joshimath. We received good responses from students nationwide and collected relief materials for the people. A team of SFI will go to the affected areas of Joshimath with relief materials."

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