Six students of the Hyderabad campus of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) went on an indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday to protest against the administration’s “negligent attitude”.
Among the issues raised by students is the deputy director of the campus not making proper communication with students admitted under the Government of India-Post Matriculation Scheme (GoI-PMS).
Pallavi Partibha, an MA student at TISS Hyderabad, said, “There are several issues that need to be resolved. We have been writing letters to Mumbai, but to no avail. We won’t be holding dialogue with them until an official plan of action is issued to us. We are not interested in vague assurances. More students will join the hunger strike on Wednesday if the registrar does not to come to our campus by 9 a.m. to address the issues.”
The students of the 2016-18 batch were given a document which said that they had been exempted from paying the dining hall, hostel and tuition fees. The acting director is currently in Hyderabad and holding talks with the deputy director.
In Mumbai, students resumed their blockade of the front gate but their demands remained unmet. Parents and students, who arrived for admissions for the 2018-20 batch, which began on Tuesday, were asked to enter through the back gate. The students’ union even prepared a pamphlet to circulate among the potential students explaining the reasons behind the strike.
Prof. Partha Sarathi Mondol, speaking in his capacity as a senior faculty member, addressed the students at the main gate and highlighted the key issues affecting the institute. Prof. Mondol said, “There is no clear cut answer as to who owns the institute. The administration claims that it is owned and controlled by the government. However, the institute does not mention that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has no legal obligation to give more money. The institute expanded on no basis while destroying scholarships of all students.”
Prof. Mondol is also the president of the SC/ST Employees’ Welfare Association at TISS, which expressed solidarity with the agitating students on February 23.
Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. Shah Jahan said the UGC only pays for salaries of faculty and general maintenance of the campus.