Mumbai: Protests on Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) campuses in the country entered Day 8 on Wednesday, with some concessions being agreed to by both sides. In Hyderabad, students called off their hunger strike after the institute administration agreed to most of their demands, but there was little headway in Mumbai, Tuljapur and Guwahati.
In Hyderabad, six TISS students who had gone on an indefinite hunger strike call it off. The demands agreed to included exemption of dining hall and hostel fees for OBC (non-creamy layer) students for the 2016-18 and 2017-19 MA batches and for the Integrated BA batches of 2015-18 and 2016-19 as well. However, the SC/ST students from the 2017-19 MA batch will have to pay hostel and dining hall fees — a demand that the TISS authorities are yet to meet across campuses.
The TISS administration in Hyderabad also agreed to provide a single campus with adequate facilities for all including medical facilities, improvement of these facilities, appointment of a librarian and item-wise break-up of hostel and dining hall fees paid by students not eligible for exemption of the same.
Arjun Mukherjee, general secretary, TISS Hyderabad Students’ Council, said, “After 14 hours of negotiations with acting director Prof. Shalini Bharat that lasted through the night, most of our demands were agreed to. However, the boycott of classes will continue in solidarity with our counterparts in Mumbai and other cities.”
Mumbai status quo
Striking students in Mumbai and other cities had no such luck, with the TISS administration adamant on not meeting their demands, except for the one seeking hostel fees for the 2016-18 MA batch be waived. Students will still have to pay dining hall fees, either when they avail of a scholarship or find employment.
Fahad Ahmed, general secretary, TISS Students’ Union, said a petition highlighting their demands has been sent to the Union ministries of Finance, HRD and Social Justice and Empowerment. “The victory in Hyderabad is encouraging. We’re now prepared to go any lengths for our demands.”
Students of TISS Tuljapur said they’re still waiting for administration representatives from Mumbai to visit their campus. Guru Prasad, a third year BA student, said, “We might have to go on a hunger strike if they don’t come down to meet us.”
In Guwahati, a citizens meeting was organised by local activists and academics at the press club, which was attended by activists, academics, intellectuals as well as TISS Guwahati faculty members and students. Ratnadeep Baruah, general secretary, TISS Student Council, Guwahati, said, “The meeting was organised to highlight that this wasn’t just a TISS issue, but one that affects society at large.”