The Students’ Union of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has called a protest march and a bandh this week across all its campuses in the country to protest the management’s decision to withdraw financial aid to SC, ST and OBC students from this academic year. While a rally is scheduled on Wednesday, the students’ union has urged students across campuses in Mumbai, Guwahati, Tuljapur and Hyderabad to boycott all classes, field work and submissions on Thursday.
Union general secretary Fahad Ahmad said, “There are three specific issues we are raising. The 2016-18 batch was not informed about the aid withdrawal at the start of their course. Only in 2017, in the middle of their course, the aid was withdrawn. That is illegal. For the 2017-19 batch, the aid was mentioned on the prospectus but was withdrawn at the time of admission. That, too, is illegal and should be revoked. And for upcoming batches, we are demanding that a provision be made for those students who can’t afford to pay the full fees.”
On May 26 last year, the institute had issued a circular announcing that it will withdraw financial aid to SC, ST and OBC students under the Government of India Pre-matric Scholarship scheme, to the surprise of the students. So students would have to pay their full fee and would be reimbursed when the scholarship is released from the central government to the institute. The institute had cited a financial deficit of Rs 20 crore as the reason behind the decision. Despite protests across campuses, the decision was not revoked.
The bandh planned on Thursday comes after dialogue between the students’ union and the administration failed, according to a statement issued by the union. “After many consultations and meetings with the administration over the past many months, we have come to the conclusion that the administration is determined to go ahead with its plans. All talks and mediation have failed, and the administration has yielded to none of our demands,” reads the statement. Ahmad said students would sit on a dharna until their demands were met. “We will go on a hunger strike and block the highway if necessary,” he said. The TISS management was unavailable to comment on the call for a bandh.