Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai has initiated disciplinary action against more than 25 students who are on a strike against scholarship cuts to the underprivileged students. Most of the students who have been served a notice belong to SC/ST/OBC/NT-DNT (Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/Other Backward Class/ Nomadic Tribes – Denotified Nomadic Tribes) categories. Some of the students who have already completed their studies have also been sent notices.
The students in TISS Mumbai have been on strike for 87 days. It was on February 21, 2018 that students at the four campuses of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a public funded research University in India, stalled academic work. The students’ union called for a complete boycott of classes across campuses to protest the administration’s decision to withdraw a fee waiver offered to SC, ST and OBC students, who are eligible for the Government of India Post-Matric Scholarship (GoI-PMS).
The notice served to the students states this strike as the reason for disciplinary action and has asked the students to give an explanation within 7 days failing which they would proceed with the action. The notice states many reasons for the action including writing slogans on walls, placing banners and posters on roads inside campus, organizing or participating in ‘special lectures’ or ‘talks’ or ‘cultural events’ at the main gate of TISS.
TISS has also accused the students of disrupting normal activity on campus, and engaging in unlawful activities like trespassing, occupying administration spaces etc.
The administration has washed their hands off the fee hike by saying that it was decided by the Government of India. However, TISS administration has asked the new batch of students to pay upfront fee of Rs. 12,500 from SC/ ST (Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe) and around Rs. 27,000 from Other Backward Castes (OBC (NC)) GOI PMS (Government of India Post Matric Scholarship) students. It is the same move against which students have been protesting for almost three months.
Students are questioning the ‘vision’ of TISS, which says that the institute aims at ‘creation and provision of socially relevant and high quality professional education in a wide range of inter-disciplinary areas of Social Sciences to a larger number of students from all sections of the society in the country.’
Contrary to their ‘vision’, the fee hike and the ‘charges’ that TISS is now imposing are bound to keep students from SC/ST OBC communities away from the place of learning. There has already been a drop in the number of OBC students due to the fee hike, the students said, quoting statistics procured by RTI (Right to Information).
TWJ’s calls to the Registrar, TISS Mumbai went unanswered.