73 Days Have Passed but the TISS Students’ Strike is far From Over

For 73 days, students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) have been on strike. TISS administration seems to be blissfully ignorant of the fact considering the latest news from the campus. 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 precisely against this move that a group of students have been protesting for more than two months.

It is said that the administration is now arguing on semantics rather than rules put in place for the less privileged students in order to help them achieve quality education. According to the GOI PMS guidelines, the hostel and food expenses are not technically ‘fees’ but ‘charges,’ the administration have told the students who questioned them. ‘The fact that both fees and charges are nothing but real money is hardly a matter to them,’ said Shefali Saini, one of the protesters in a social media post.

‘The institute has all the money to give support to students and it is clear that TISS wants to commercialise education while maintaining a good face. TISS has used it’s ‘public funded university’ image when needed and used it’s ‘private autonomy’ when desired,’ she said, pointing out the two facedness of the institute.

 

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’ unions 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).

Students are questioning the ‘vision’ of TISS that 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 this, the fee hike and the ‘charges’ that TISS is now imposing is 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).