TISS strike: students say one demand met

Mumbai: On Thursday, the second day of the strike by students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the administration agreed to exempt SC/ST students of the 2016-18 batch from paying hostel and dining hall fees.

Following a meeting with a student delegation the administration said that SC/ST students would have to pay only the scholarship amount received under the Government of India-Post Matriculation Scholarship (GOI-PMS). The striking students spent Wednesday night at the main gate of TISS and resumed their protest on Thursday morning.

Prof. P.K. Shahjahan, dean of student affairs at TISS, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the strike took the administration by surprise. “We had received no formal intimation about the strike from the union and learned about it only through social media,” he said.

TISS has been hiking its fees for the past few years. In May 2017, the institute had issued a circular revoking the scholarship affecting close to 1,200 students.

Alumni lend support

About 100 alumni signed an open letter supporting the student’s strike and condemning the decisions taken by the institute to deny the fee exemption given to SC, ST and OBC students. In their open letter, the alumni have demanded that the administration give fee exemption to SC, ST and OBC students who are eligible for GoI-PMS and extend financial aid mechanism for more students.

“It (the scholarship) was a great support for people coming from rural settings and marginalised sections,” said Laxmidhar Singh, who completed his M.A in Social Work in 2011 and was also the president of the TISS Students Union for one term. “When I joined in 2009, I only had ₹200. It is only due to scholarships that I was able to complete my studies. The fee structure and the cost of living in Mumbai make it impossible for people hailing marginalised sections to do any course in TISS,” he said.

Goldy George who finished his PhD in 2015 said the government was destroying the essential provision of affirmative action through various methods, one of which is the reduction in funds to the GoI-PMS.

“The composition of students has changed over the years due to the increase in fees and withdrawal of scholarships,” said Karuna D’Souza, who graduated in 2009. The open letter gave an example of the same; the number of students from the OBC category declined from 97 to 47 within a year after the GoI-PMS was removed in 2015.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 12:33:55 PM |

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