The strike by the students at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), which has stretched to over 70 days now, means that almost Rs 5.79 lakh a day that the the premier film institute spends on staff salaries is literally going down the drain in the absence of academic activities, according to an official at the institute.
While the institute, which has an annual budget of about Rs 20 crore, is paying literally because of the protests, the students too are faced with financial hardships, having spent almost Rs 4 lakh since their strike started on June 12 against the alleged political appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of FTII Society and Rahul Solapurkar, Narendra Pathak, Anagha Ghaisas and Shailesh Gupta as other members.
Since they began their strike, the students have boycotted their classes and other activities while staying at the campus.
“We spend approximately Rs 1.25 crore per month towards salaries for faculty members, staff, security and other contractual staff. An additional Rs 44 lakh per month is spent on expenditures like water and electricity bills and another Rs 4.7 lakh per month is given for Human Resource Development expenditure,” said a senior official from FTII who did not wish to be named. The official said the average total expenditure worked out to about Rs 5.79 lakh daily.
“A lot of government’s money comes to the institute. While security and some others are working, the faculty is not. That becomes a wasteful expenditure,” the official said.
FTII’s registrar U C Bodake refused to comment on the strike but confirmed that Rs 1.25 crore was spent a month towards salaries.
As far as the students are considered, even they would have been facing a cash crunch were it not for the generous support from former students, faculty members and people from the film industry.
“No political party supports us. We have a proper record of who all have donated for our cause and we make sure this is spent for the welfare of the students only. We have a bank account called students association FTII in which many people can donate. Many a time, people give cash too,” said Malyaj Awasthi, a direction student.
“In the initial days, we were spending from our own pockets. At that time, there was about Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 in our account. But the Delhi trip made all of us bankrupt. Almost 70 students had gone to Delhi. Their travel, accommodation and food alone cost us Rs 2 lakh. The best part is that our alumni helps us. Even non-FTII people like Nikhil Advani have supported us financially. Then our major support is from the faculty. When we had to secure bails for five of our students, the faculty members arranged for Rs 63,000 in just one hour and gave us. If people are helping us, it means they believe in our strike and they believe in what we are fighting for,” Awasthi said.
Talking about the expenditure, Ajayan Adat, a student of sound, said, “How can anyone see everything in terms of profit and loss. Education is not a business. But the government seems to not understand it. The government spent Rs 20 crore on Yoga day. The entire annual budget of FTII is Rs 20 crore. Basically, the government forced us to go on strike. We students don’t want the strike. We are also struggling. It is the government’s ego that is not letting the strike end. All the present government wants to do is to privatise everything. They do not understand the value of art, literature and education.”
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