FTII row: Govt open to talks without preconditions

The ministry’s letter refers to a communication from the students on the issues for discussion in response to a request for “an immediate dialogue” from FTII director Prashant Pathrabe on September 1.

Written by Raghvendra Rao | New Delhi | Updated: September 17, 2015 5:14 pm
FTII, FTII row, FTII controversy, FTII director, Gajendra Chauhan, FTII students, FTII news, Adoor Goapalakrishnan, Pune FTII, indian express news The students have been on strike for the last 97 days, mainly against the appointment of members linked to Hindutva groups on the FTII society, including actor Gajendra Chauhan as its president.

Stressing that it was “committed to find a way forward”, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has invited students on strike at the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) for a fresh round of talks — but without preconditions.

The students, meanwhile, indicated their willingness to resume discussions by calling off their hunger strike, setting the stage for a third meeting between their representatives and the government after two previous rounds on July 3 and July 25.

WATCH VIDEO: Debating The Appointment Of Gajendra Chauhan & The FTII Strike With Nirmala Sitharaman

The students have been on strike for the last 97 days, mainly against the appointment of members linked to Hindutva groups on the FTII society, including actor Gajendra Chauhan as its president.

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In a letter addressed to H Nachimuthu, president of the FTII Students’ Association (FSA), on Wednesday, K Sanjay Murthy, Joint Secretary (Films) in the I&B Ministry, wrote: “In case you are keen to end the stalemate and resume the academics, you are welcome to discuss the issues with the Ministry without any preconditions.”

When contacted, Ranjit Nair, an FSA representative, said, “We are hopeful this dialogue starts. We agree to start it on a clean slate without any preconditions.”

The ministry’s letter refers to a communication from the students on the issues for discussion in response to a request for “an immediate dialogue” from FTII director Prashant Pathrabe on September 1. “The students would like to invite the Hon. Minister and other officials to the FTII campus, this would help create a positive environment and fasten the process (sic),” the FSA said on September 7.

On September 8, they listed eight issues: talks on the FTII society and its president; FIRs and court cases against students; impact of the impasse on academic timelines; talks on appointments and process; expert studies on administrative, academic, human resource and infrastructural crises; permanent and contract faculty; deteriorating ties between students and the current director and registrar; and modalities and timeframes to address all these issues.

”We assure you, a cordial atmosphere shall be maintained with all due respect to the Hon. Minister’s visit,” the FSA said.

In Wednesday’s letter, the I&B Ministry said the July 25 engagement with the students was a “leap of faith and a sincere attempt to move forward” — apart from I&B officials, the representatives had met I&B Minister Arun Jaitley at his residence.

Murthy’s letter also said that the September 8 communication by the students was similar in tone and tenor to the July 31 letter in which the FSA set preconditions, such as appointing a co-chairman with powers of the chairman, with Chauhan to function as an interim titular head.

”This. also completely bypassed the paradigms of the possible settlement and understanding reached on July 25,” the letter said, adding it was a disappointment from the government’s point of view.

On July 25, the I&B ministry had “informally” agreed that it would consider replacing three of the five contentious members of the proposed society: Anagha Ghaisas, Narendra Pathak and Rahul Solapurkar. It is also learnt to have agreed to replace three other members who had resigned — Jahnu Baruah, Santosh Sivan and Pallavi Joshi — with three new “mutually agreeable” members.

In his latest letter, Joint Secretary Murthy said, “(The) Ministry has also been given to understand that at least on one occasion the representatives of the students, resiled on the commitments made by them to the interlocutors in Mumbai within less than twelve hours of the dialogue. Instead, pressure has been sought to be built up by an array of tactics.”

Murthy was referring to filmmakers Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani, who accompanied the students to Delhi on July 25 and subsequently acted as interlocutors on behalf of the government, holding at least one official meeting with the students in Mumbai.

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  1. A
    asif
    Sep 17, 2015 at 11:16 am
    the goverment is not interested in elevating the status of indian education rather they are more interested in saffronising the education .simply they fall short of intellectuals.they got some good brains but they are more eager to spew venoms of communalism than to act constructively in nation building. we are just fed up with listening india to be one of the largest economy ,where do we stand infront of global stage ,ofcourse nowhere .we dont have a single university ranked under top 200 except just two iit delhi and iis banglore.our railway condition is just pathetic .we are the world capital of child marriage ,child labour,infanticide .but our govt is not keen to solve this problem rather more interested in making india a hindu rashtra ,the prospering rashtra .its not gonna happen but whats gonna happen is that we are pushing ourselves in the fire of communalism .these people like to see we muslims bleed . the time is not yet over we can grow unless we stop making division in terms of religion.
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    1. R
      Rahul
      Sep 17, 2015 at 12:12 pm
      It is not the others you point at, but you and your ilk who are obsessed with religion and communalism. If Indian insutes are not at the top of world ranking, it is the sum total of the last 60 plus years of neglect and lack of vision. It may suit your agenda to blame this on a PM who has only completed a year in office and cry saffronisation, but that is far from reality.
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      1. M
        Mohan
        Sep 17, 2015 at 5:44 pm
        It is good that you realized the pathetic condition of our country. The persons who came to power with the vote bank are responsible for this.
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        1. R
          Ram
          Sep 17, 2015 at 7:52 pm
          Throw come these lefty g00ns are unto relay hunger strike not fast unto death? Even eating neck full of biryani every evening they somehow want to find a face saver to end it. The government should never talk to these g00ns, let them g0 t0 he!! . Remove all who completed 3 years and every one including the staff involved in this long strike from FTII . Please cleanse all Indian insutions from this leftist F!1th who are living off tax money doing totally ant! nat!0nal activity, living as paras!tes for many decades. FTII striking students, we demand you to undertake fast unto death, all of you striking, and take it to logical conclusion and save our tax money!
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          1. S
            Shriram
            Sep 17, 2015 at 1:52 pm
            Students should come without any preconditions. Govt. will start with 3 points. 1) Gajendra will stay whatever may happen. 2) Anagha Ghaisas etc. 4 directors will stay whatever may happen 3) If this round of talks fail next round will be after one month. With this offer the students are welcome to talk. If they try to force their views, Dood Bye and see you after 1 month.
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