Remembering George Reddy

Harsh Thakor

On 14th April communist revolutionaries commemorated the 50th death anniversary of Student martyr, George Reddy who was slain by ABVP goons. George virtually carved out a new epoch in the student movement.

Significant that George's political life coincided or was even a product of historic events like the Paris Students Uprising of 1968, the National Liberation Struggle in Vietnam, the Black Panther movement, the Naxalbari and Srikakulam uprisings etc, which touched the very core of his soul.

From George one must imbibe how to master the idioms of student community and not merely parrot marxist-Leninist slogans. The advent of mechanisation or digital age must be taken into consideration in age of globalisation with methods of work devised in accordance with the changed times. The factor of Upper caste hegemony in society has to be synthesised with the student organising on the campus.

The student movement was vitiated by different trends in the 1970s. The first  towed the path of revisionism, 2nd  imposed Leninist party politics, third  upheld revolution but detached the organisation from guidance of Leninist parties, fourth highlighted Dalit identity politics  while the fifth  practised the mass line. Inspite of sacrifices and achievements , the Andhra Pradesh Radical Students Union often exhibited powerful vanguardist  tendencies , converting the organisation into a party platform . The same trend prevailed in Calcutta University. There were powerful tendencies to propagate slogans incompatible with the student community at large like 'Naxalbari Zindabad 'or 'Long Live Mao Thought’,  ‘Mao in village, Che in cities’.

As a student activist in Mumbai this writer recalls how revolutionary student organisations were turned into front organisations of Communist Revolutionary groups. The best examples were of the Vidhyarti Praghati Sanghatana (VPS) with the CPI (M-L) People’s War Group and the Pragatisheel Vidhyarti Sanghatana (PRAVIS) with the Chandra Pulla Reddy Group. No doubt they made an important contribution to democratic student movement, but their practice was vitiated by not giving proper democratic identity to the mass organisations. They behaved like communist parties. In Contrast the Vidhyarti Yuva Jagruti Sanghatana for a period maintained the independence of the mass organisation to practise genuine democratic functioning.

Five decades after George's death the democratic student movement in India is again at a rudimentary stage or fragmented, with certain trends adhering to Maoist trend, facing mortal blows. It is commendable today that certain trends which had genesis in the Progressive Democratic Students condemn the autocracy of the Indian rulers in Kashmir ,Hindu Communal fascism at large ,Operation Green Hunt and leave no stone unturned in giving solidarity to the anti-caste movement.

George was born on 15th August 1947in Palakad.He had vague memories of his Palakad days. His mother Leila played a great role in shaping George’s political orientation ,who championed simplicity and service .

George faced a rustication period for his political activities on the campus in 1968 which was blessing in disguise, making him read intensely both on the academic and general fronts. The isolation he faced fostered a strong spirit of introspection.

In 1971 George was crowned with a Gold medal in Physics while doing his M.Sc course. And began work as a Physics lecturer.

The 1969 Telengana agitation played a major role in shaping George's life with a spark turning into a prairie fire, with the promises of a separate Telengana betrayed . George did not confine his activities only within the boundaries of student work but also reached out to class 4 employees and their slum dwellings and families. He inculcated training to slum students in self- defence and boxing and assisted them in their studies. George also waged struggles for minorities and women.

  [Harsh Thakor is a Freelance journalist who has extensively travelled around India particularly Punjab and done  research on Indian student movement. In  college days was an activist in PRAVIS group and participated in agitations.]

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Vol 54, No. 45, May 8 - 14, 2022