Initially, it was just a small group of a few college-going students and a Jesuit in a college. They called themselves a ‘guild.’ They came together, studied, informed themselves of the societal injustice and grappled with the incongruence between what they studied and the reality around them. Their discussions were intense, wanting to find solutions for the social problems they witnessed in their surroundings. They believed firmly that ‘they had the right to be heard.’ They started publishing their insights in a magazine, later becoming a household name among different colleges. They were growing but needed to pool their resources to be effective. They could no more be a ‘guild.’

This young and vibrant group merged with a ‘league’ founded by again a Jesuit. The league grew and became a ‘federation.’ The federation’s vision, mission and activities drew many students from far and near. It was no more a ‘federation.’ It was now a ‘movement’ by the young, of the young and for the young. It realized that ‘collaboration and networking’ was essential to change society. Jesuits who accompanied the young in this movement played different roles. Many were sages on the stage, some were guides on the side, and a few were ‘meddlers’ in the middle. But in all these roles, they were convinced it was all about the ‘young— their fears and future.’

Gradually, because it was owned and run by the ‘young,’ the movement gained immense popularity nationally and was recognized by the CBCI (Catholic Bishops Conference of India). The movement strongly believed that human beings are born into an unjust society and that it is the responsibility of every human being not to leave it as they found it. The movement nurtured many social activists, politicians, educationalists, journalists and others who fought against oppressive structures in the society.

As the All-Indian Catholic University Federation (AICUF) celebrates its centenary, we hope it revisits its roots and reimagines its future. Movements such as AICUF can offer the space needed for the young to ‘think’ in an age reaping the benefits of Artificial Intelligence.

Failing to plan a hope-filled future ‘with’ the young is planning to fail a hope-filled future. I hope we realise it ASAP!Guild: The Catholic Young Men Guild (CYMG) was guided by Fr P. Carty, SJ at St Joseph’s College, Trichy, Tamil Nadu. League: Malabar Catholic Youth League (MCYL) was founded by Fr Honore, SJ in 1915. Federation: Catholic Young Men Federation (CYMF). Magazine: The Rally