Addressing the 69th national conference of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Delhi on December 8, Home Minister Amit Shah said the youth are the backbone of the country and it is their strength which takes the country and society to its peak. “This is Bharat’s time and the work of taking this transformation forward has to be done by the youth,” he added. An “organic product” of Vidyarthi Parishad himself, Shah emphasised that conservation of cultural heritage and development are not contradictory while inviting students to visit the Sri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.
Call in Sync With ABVP’s Motto
The message and call of the Home Minister is in concurrence with the ideals of ABVP which has always believed that “Students are not the citizens of tomorrow, but of today”. This ideal was clearly spelt out in its national conference in 1971. Established on July 9, 1949, with pioneering roles of Balraj Madhok and Yashwant Rao Kelkar, ABVP has grown to become the largest student organisation in Bharat with a membership of more than three million students and a presence in 4,500 cities and towns from colleges to the district level. How Vidyarthi Parishad became the greatest student force is not easy to explain but we can still try.
The founders of ABVP were clear that they must mobilise themselves to counter the growing Communist ideology in the university campuses. However, by the 1970s, the ABVP started increasingly taking on issues like corruption and Government’s failure in the efforts towards national reconstruction. And unlike many other student organisations, ABVP was never limited to the national and State capitals. For instance, one of the oldest programmes that allowed ABVP gain a strong foothold in the North East was ‘Students’ Experience in Inter-State Living (SEIL)’. The programme was started in 1965-66 and involved students from North Eastern States travelling to other States and vice-versa. Or think about ABVP’s role during the Emergency (1975-77)—the second Freedom Struggle—when more than 10,000 of its cadre were arrested offering Satyagraha against the Fascism of Smt Indira Gandhi and her Communist allies.
Citizens of Today
Unlike Communist student organisations, ABVP has always remained focused on national issues of reconstruction and change for citizens. Even though its affiliate World Organisation of Students and Youth (WOSY; established in 1985) as an international youth body has always strived to see the whole earth as a family and did its best for the same, Parishad unlike others, has never lost the sight of nationalism in favour of some hollow internationalism. So, on the one hand ABVP participated in civil defence during the Indo-Pak War, 1971; in the 1980s they organised many seminars on Illegal Infiltration from Bangladesh in Calcutta. Thousands of ABVP members also organised a nationwide agitation in support of Save Assam Movement and demonstration at Guwahati. When the National Education Policy (NEP), 1986 was introduced by the Rajiv Gandhi Government, ABVP held many seminars and civil dialogues on it, and simultaneously organised a national movement against the Bofors deal and the reported corruption under the same Govt. In 1990, more than 10,000 ABVP members marched towards Kashmir, held demonstration in front of the Prime Minister’s residence, and organised national agitation and awareness programmes through the call of Save Kashmir. Despite its impactful presence in the politics of today, ABVP never lost sight of the wisdom of the past and how it will shape our promising future. For instance, a historic student rally with some 23,000 students was organised in Kolkata in 1993 to mark the centenary celebration of the Chicago speech of Swami Vivekananda. Smt Monika Kakkar (DUSU President) and Shri HV Seshadri (Sarkaryavah, f RSS) were present.
Panch Pran And Amrit Kaal
During the unprecedented times of COVID-19, educational institutions were closed as part of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic. ABVP resolved to reinvent itself by initially carrying out relief and rehabilitation work, and then taking constant feedback from students to share with the PMO. ABVP collected and donated Rs 2.86 crore to the PM CARES Fund, and distributed more than 58 lakh masks, 30 lakh food packets and 31.7 lakh ration kits. It helped send more than 17,000 students to their homes. A substantial number of these students were from North Eastern States and tribal areas in the country. Around 59,000 ABVP activists worked actively on the ground, and the organisation also ran 477 kitchens for more than 100 days, including one in Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand because 700 Nepali labourers had got stuck there. ABVP conducted door-to-door screening in more than 100 slums of Delhi for
COVID-19 symptoms and encouraged people to register for vaccination. ABVP is also taking forward the pledge of Panch Pran in the Amrit Kaal by executing programmes like Mission Sahasi. As per the mission, self-defence training will be provided to girl students across schools and colleges.
Committed towards National Reconstruction
From schools, colleges, and universities to borders and frontiers, ABVP has remained committed towards national reconstruction. Now, its work has been expanded greatly in its scope ever since PM Narendra Modi in 2022 offered the Panch Pran goals to the nation. On August 15, 2022, in his historic speech, he added, “I urge youth to dedicate the next 25 years of their lives for the nation’s development; they should work towards the development of the entire humanity.”
Looking Forward to 2047
In the Amrit Kaal, ABVP will continue to contribute towards the national reconstruction in its best capacity. Be it taking forward the goals of National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, indigenisation and decolonisation of education, and helping youth and students in understanding dangerous designs of miscreants who work against national unity and integration.
ABVP has always promised and manifested a culture of activism, Sewa, and Samarpan where everybody has been integrated in its organisation. We call upon other partisan, ideologically indoctrinated and nepotistic student organisations to take a lesson or two from us and contribute positively towards the national cause. There will be differences in approach but there should not be any difference in the national interest. After all, Kashmir ho ya Guwahati, apna desh apni mitti! (Be it Kashmir or Guwahati, it’s our nation, our soil)