The strike at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has drained the institute financially, leading to a ‘waste’ of Rs 5.79 lakh per day on salaries of teachers and other staff during the strike period, although most academic activities were on standstill.
A Right to Information (RTI) plea filed by The Indian Express has revealed that the institute also spent Rs 4.04 lakh on travelling, food and lodging allowance for institute director Prashant Pathrabe, registrar UC Bodake, and student representatives, and in hosting the Khan Committee members which visited the campus on a fact-finding mission.
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The Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B), on its part, failed to provide details of the funds spent by it in its attempt to resolve the strike. Although it hosted the students and FTII officials in Delhi and Mumbai several times, and several of its officials travelled to Pune and Mumbai to meet the striking students, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) responded to the RTI query saying that bills are yet to be submitted to the accounts department of the Ministry.
The strike called by students on June 12 to protest the appointment of “undeserving candidates” on the FTII Society continued till October 29. The strike, which was called off by students on its 139th day, didn’t yield anything in terms of revoking the contentious appointments or putting up a mechanism to make future appointments on the institute body more transparent.
As per information supplied by the Chief Accounts Officer, FTII, U A Dhekne in response to The Indian Express query, the institute spent Rs 1,40,124 on officials tours of the director and registrar to Mumbai and Delhi “in connection with the strike”. This includes four tours of former director D J Narain to Delhi between July 1 and July 28 and nine tours by Pathrabe and Bodake to Delhi and Mumbai between August 6 and October 10.
The institute, the administration of which often complains of fund shortage, spent Rs 2.48 lakh on tours of students to Delhi and Mumbai to meet I&B ministers and officials. This includes airline fare, train tickets, ticket cancellation charges, food, toll tax and intra-city transport for four tours between July 3 to October 22, 2015.
The reply also shows that the institute spent Rs 16,660 on hosting three members of the Khan Committee who visited the institute for a day on a ‘fact-finding mission’ immediately after students detained Pathrabe in his office per force on August 17.
Although on October 28, the students’ announced the end of the strike and said that they will return to classes, the tension between the two parties still continues. While classes for TV sections have commenced, the film wing will only begin academic activities post Diwali.
Students are also chalking out their plans to corner the government at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). They have also threatened to protest when Gajendra Chauhan, the FTII Society President appointee, and four other contentious appointees visit the campus to take charge of the institute body.