Following reports that claimed that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B) spends Rs 12 lakh per year for every student studying filmmaking at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), records obtained under RTI by the students show that the expenditure is split between academics, facilities given to students, depreciation of old buildings, ongoing constructions of new ones, money spent on pension for retired staffers and even contribution to Prime Minister Relief Fund.
There have also been comparisons of this spending with the money spent by the government on other national institutions. It was said that the amount was three times the money spent on students at IIT and double the money spent on medical students.
The students claim they were shocked by this “revelation” and hence filed a query under RTI to find out “where and how this humongous amount was being spent on them”.
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The response provided by the accounts department of the institute shows that the total expenditure on students for the financial year 2014-15 was Rs 37.91 crore. Distributing this sum equally for 342 students studying in various film and television throws up the figure of Rs 11.08 lakh per student, which, it seems, was later rounded up to 12 lakh.
One important head under which Rs 4.55 crore were shown spent is the depreciation of office buildings, hostels and other buildings, construction of new buildings like studios and auditoriums and refurbishment of existing ones.
The records also show that money was spent on National Students Film Awards (Rs 94.72 lakh) organised by the I&B Ministry with the aim of “recognising the talent in film schools across the country” where FTII is one of the participants.
Administrative expenditure also includes events such as Film Appreciation Course organised by FTII in collaboration with National Film Archive, which is, however, held for outsiders and not FTII students, and setting up of radio station, among other things. The funds spent on students also include money donated to Pradhanmantri Relief Fund (Rs 59,336).
There are other heads such as institute’s contribution to CPF of employees (Rs 25.87 lakh), new pension scheme, Indian Panorama Festival among other things.
The institute insiders concede that it’s difficult to calculate the money spent per student and disagree with the way the institute has done it.
However, U A Dhekne, Chief Accounts Officer at the FTII, backed the Rs 12 lakh per student theory. “FTII is a fully granted institute and every expenditure incurred on the campus is paid for by the Ministry. All the expenditures mentioned are for running the institute and every activity in the institute is ultimately for the benefit of students. Hence, the expenditure, although a rough estimate, is not incorrect.”
Students, on the other hand, claim the data obtained under RTI busts the Rs 12 lakh theory.
Ashwani Sharma, a final-year sound recording student who accessed the information, said, “The claim that the ministry was spending Rs 12 lakh every year on each students had shocked most of us, including the staffers. The account information shows how the method used by them is faulty. The only aim of the mischief, is seems, was to portray students as ‘freeloaders’ and give a bad name to the ongoing agitation.”