A day ahead of their talks with I&B Ministry over the impasse at FTII, agitating students today said several leading academicians and professionals from Silicon Valley, visited by PM Narendra Modi during his current US tour, have expressed solidarity with them.
Addressing a press conference here, a group of FTII students said they appreciated Prime Minister’s efforts abroad, but also felt that world class institutions cannot be built if government makes “sub-standard” appointments.
The students had yesterday called off their 18-day-old hunger strike in response to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s letter fixing a meeting tomorrow to end the deadlock over the contentious appointment of actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of the institute.
Kislay, an alumni of FTII, said around 200 prominent intellectuals in the US had expressed solidarity with them which included Noam Chomsky of MIT, Partha Chatterjee of Columbia University, besides IT professionals and students.
In a letter to the PM, signed by these eminent intellectuals, the students have raised concerns not only about Chauhan’s appointment as FTII chief but also regarding the credentials of some other council members.
The students said the letter also expresses concern over”the persistent interference of government in the functioning of other premier institutes such as ICHR, ICCR, NFDC, NBT, CBFC, Prasar Bharati, the IIMs and the IITs”.
The students claimed that the ministry had given the impression that they had laid preconditions, but in fact it was the ministry that had refused to discuss the issue of
Chauhan’s appointment, which had led to the protests. Urging the government to resolve the crisis in a way that “upholds academic and institutional autonomy”, Kislay said, “In case a solution is not found, the students will have no option but to make the protests bigger.”
“The students could approach filmmakers asking them to boycott film festivals organised by the government,” Kislay, who was flanked by other FTII students, said.
Officials of I&B ministry and FTII students will hold talks in Mumbai tomorrow aiming to bring an end to the strike which has been on for over 100 days.