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FTII hunger strike enters day 2; SRFTI students join ranks

Pinching pockets: FTII students take part in a protest over high fees, at the institute on Pune on Tuesday.

Pinching pockets: FTII students take part in a protest over high fees, at the institute on Pune on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Protesters demand lower entrance test fees, annual hike

The indefinite hunger strike called by students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune to protest steep annual fee hikes and the allegedly prohibitive cost of the FTII entrance exam entered its second day on Tuesday. Students from the Kolkata-based Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), meanwhile, started a parallel hunger strike.

While four FTII students have been on strike since Monday, six SRFTI students went on strike a little after noon on Tuesday.

The Joint Entrance Test (JET) to the FTII and the SRFTI is conducted by the two institutes to shortlist candidates for admission.

“Application fees for the JET range from ₹4,000 to ₹10,000, making it the costliest entrance examination to any public-funded institute in India. This is almost four times the JEE Advanced entrance exam fee … The application fee for even a private institute like Whistling Woods is ₹3,000,” said a statement released by the SRFTI Students’ Association.

The association said despite repeatedly holding dialogue with the institute administration over the 10% annual fee hike and the JET entrance fee, no step had been taken in resolving the students’ concerns.

“Since the administrations of both institutes [FTII and SRFTI] have refused any immediate relief in this matter, we are exploring all options to remedy this wrong and make our institutes more inclusive and accessible,” the SRFTI students’ statement said.

The FTII Students’ Association has contended that the annual fees of ₹1,18,323 and JET exam fees of ₹10,000 made it impossible for numerous to afford the premier institute. “We have accordingly demanded that the Information and Broadcast Ministry revoke and reduce the 10% fee hike every academic year and stop conducting the JET 2020 until the entrance exam fees are brought down. We will not budge from our indefinite hunger strike, and four other students will take the place of the four who are currently on strike,” Rajashri Majumdar, the association’s general secretary, said.

FTII director Bhupendra Kainthola said the strike was “totally unjustified.” and that there was no immediate reason to protest a decision taken in 2008. “The decision to increase fees by 10% per annum was taken by the FTII governing council in 2008 and has been in force since then. Any decision to review the fees or its rollback can therefore be taken only by the governing council,” Mr. Kainthola said. The representation by the FTII Students’ Association could be placed before the next meeting of the governing council with the permission of council’s chairman, he said.

“The FTII Students’ Association did not given any prior notice to the administration regarding the strike. So I appeal to the agitating students to call off the protest and resume their studies,” he said.

In an expression of solidarity with the students, the 2017 and 2018 FTII batches have stopped post-production of their films.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 9:20:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ftii-hunger-strike-enters-day-2-srfti-students-join-ranks/article30333542.ece

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