Staff Correspondent

SHIMLA: A two-day national workshop of the Students’ Federation of India started at Himachal Pradesh University here on Friday. The event was inaugurated by Professor M. K. Sharma, Director of the University Management Studies, in the absence of senior CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury, who could not make it to the function because of his preoccupation in New Delhi.

Prof. Sharma called for a quantitative increase in the organised democratic student movement. The membership of the student organisation in all the States as the percentage of the total number of students enrolled is just 3.6 per cent. Even the collective strength of the organised student movements including NSUI and ABVP is less than 10 per cent, he said. Being unorganised, large sections of students are swayed by various social and ideological influences, he added. He reiterated the need to strengthen the mass character of SFI.

All-India SFI secretary, K. K. Ragesh, claimed that the Students Federation with a membership of 36 lakh was the biggest students’ organisation in the country. He criticised the UPA Government for retreating from its commitment made in the Common Minimum Programme of giving 6 per cent of the GDP for the education sector. He said the marginal increase from 4.25 per cent to 4.75 per cent in the Union Budget from the promised 10 per cent was ridiculous. Albina Shakeel, a former JNU Students’ Union president and all-India joint secretary, said SFI needs to increase its membership in various schools and professional colleges.