PROTESTS CONTINUED at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, for the 20th day on Monday with around 40 students holding a rally on campus and raising slogans. The students are now planning to take the protest to a national forum.
“We are in the process of forming a Joint Action Committee, with members of student unions from various other institutes which face similar problems. Since the institute has now said that this is the most they can offer, we will now turn the focus of our movement to the state and the central governments,” said Fahad Ahmad, general secretary, student union.
“The institute has provided a Plan of Action, accepting some of our demands, albeit conditionally. However, we want our demands met unconditionally. We also want the institute to share its financial details with us,” said a protesting student on the condition of anonymity. The students also seek exemption off fees for upcoming batches of 2018.
In its final Plan of Action, the institute has made a host of proposals ‘to provide all and feasible opportunities to students from socially, educationally and marginalised communities’. Apart from waiving course fee, dining hall fee and hostel charges for SC/ST students in the batches 2016-18 and 2017-19, the institute has proposed an average aid of Rs 30,000 per student per year for OBC (non-creamy) category students. For the new batches, the institute proposes that course fee would be waived and SC/ST students would have to pay a base fee of Rs 4,500 and Rs 15,000 for hostel fees that could be paid in installments.
“This is the best that the institute can offer. We’ve exhausted our resources and given that there’s a deficit of Rs20 crore on the books. Moreover, the commitments made to the protesting students is expected to cost us Rs12 crore,” said PK Shajahan, dean, student affairs.
Meanwhile, a large section of the student union has pulled out of the protests. “We have decided to call off the protest keeping in mind the institute’s financial crisis. The movement has to be taken to a larger platform and we should confront the central government over the policy issues. That will be done in a democratic way once students have finished their exams, submissions and other academic commitments,” said a member of the student union, who pulled out of the protest.