THE PROTEST at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) continued for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday with students refusing to call the strike off before the institute agrees to all their demands. While the protest is anchored by students in the institute’s Mumbai campus, agitations continue on the other TISS campuses — in Tuljapur, Hyderabad and Guwahati. A meeting with the TISS administration was scheduled late Sunday night. Even as the meeting continued till late in the night, students said that the protests were likely to continue on Monday.
Meanwhile, faculty members, alumni and student bodies of various institutes across the country have extended their support to the protests. A bandh was called by the Union on February 20 to protest the institute’s decision to withdraw fee waiver to SC, ST and OBC students eligible for the government of India pre-matric scholarship (GoI-PMS) last year. “We want all four of our demands met, unconditionally and will not give in. Students are anguished and frustrated,” said Fahad Ahmad, general secretary, TISS Students’ Union.
“This will be a failure of the department of social justice and empowerment if students are not able avail of the existing scholarship schemes or if funds are not released for the benefit of SC, ST and OBC students,” said Ahmad.
The union has demanded that the institute retract a notification, asking students of 2016-18 and 2017-19 batch eligible for the GoI-PMS to pay their tuition, hostel and dining hall fees. The Union has also sought that the upcoming batch of 2018-20 be exempt from the new rule, where GoI-PMS eligible students pay their fee upfront. Apart from these, the student Union has sought symbolic representation of SC, ST and OBC students in the Social Protection Office of TISS.
“If our talks with the institute administration fails, we will gherao the residence of Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment,” Ahmad said. The TISS administration, however, denied having stopped any scholarships and said that it continued to follow the central government guidelines on student welfare.
“TISS has been making proactive efforts to generate resources to meet part of the deficit in post matric-GOI scholarship. In the current year, above Rs1 crore is being disbursed thus far, from endowment funds and through grants generated from different sources, as additional funds. Thus far, in the current year, Rs 25 lakhs has been generated to meet the hostel charges of GoI-PMS students. Additionally, Rs 80 lakh has been allocated/ disbursed from endowment funds and grants to support students from weaker financial backgrounds,” read a statement by the Institute.