Historical & Theoretical Perspective
AICUF is a movement of university students with a vision for a new and just society. Progressing in a history of constant re-discovery and re-creation, AICUF ever tries to link itself to the emerging needs and realities of the university, the church and the wider society.
AICUFers find themselves part of a social reality characterised by a growing concern for basic and social issues such as Communalism, Globalisation, Environment and Violation of Human Rights affecting vast sections of the masses, specially in the lives of Women, Tribals, Dalits and Refugees and AICUF itself. Large displacements as well as the utter denial of human rights have resulted in the emergence of locally based, yet strong, mass organisations and movements of oppressed sections like the Dalits, Tribal and Women. Similarly there are movements around social and local issues such as Ecology, People’s Science and Human & Democratic rights. At the same time organisations based on castes and communities have also grown, demanding their share in the benefits of development.
ln this context, AICUF has experienced the emergence of four commissions — Women, Tribals, Dalits and Refugees — not to lead to fragmentation but to visualise and build up a total society in the spirit of solidarity.
As demands for a new people’s science and people’s knowledge have increased, the universities, by and large, have remained instruments of a wider unjust structure, although inherent elements of scientific enquiry, critical questioning and secular approach of the university do provide scope for debate and dissent, not only regarding campus reality, but also the emerging situation outside. AICUF finds itself, at this juncture, challenged by the call to become a genuine mass student movement, capable of taking the emerging social issues and struggles into the campus and providing a basic scientific understanding and spirit of enquiry regarding these issues and struggles.
As a movement of the university, AICUF brings secular and scientific elements, as well as wider dimensions to the issues handled by mass organisations. As a student movement, AICUF brings into the realm of mass movements the fresh and free elements of students. Students are fresh, energetic and vigorous and hence able to grasp new ideas and spread them quickly and powerfully. Being relatively free of existent power structures and freer in their expressions and criticisms, they are able to transcend the narrow limits of caste, community and religion. Again, as they come from a broad cross-section of society, they are able easily to take its message to a wider society. By its very nature as a mass organisation, AICUF is characterised by an openness of membership and an openness to forces and movements outside. Solidarity with other mass movements becomes essential to safeguard the unity of the struggle of the masses.
A mass organisation is also open at the level of activities, taking up issues that concern large sections of people and which are inspired by deep values of democracy, participation, solidarity and respect for rights. Such an involvement demands a wide use of mass techniques (such as mass campaigns, congresses, rallies, slogans, people’s media) so that the issues are taken concretely and effectively to the masses. On the other hand, a mass organisation also requires strong leadership, combining close contact with the masses with a clear ideological orientation and commitment.
A mass organisation, in order to successfully achieve its goals, needs to have a federal structure, a structure that allows a closer relationship of the movement with local issues as well as the flexibility to handle them effectively. Such a structure, also enables the various local issues to be merged into a national perspective.