Skip to main content

TISS Hyderabad: Burden of funds cut falls on students from 'marginalized' sections

Counterview Desk
Top activists associated with the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a civil society network, including Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Dr Binayak Sen, and Prafulla Samantara, has protested against the decision of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) administration for “sine die” closure of TISS, Hyderabad Campus, even as “denying” hostel access to Dalit and Adivasi students.
Addressed to Prof Shalini Bharat, director, TISS, Mumbai, acting deputy director Prof U Vindhya,TISS, Hyderabad, and MP Balamurugan, acting registrar, TISS, Hyderabad, the letter states that the students’ protests in favour of their demands to ensure “inclusive and accessible education are completely are “fair and reasonable”, asking the authorities to lift the closure order and “take necessary steps to ensure that Dalit, Adivasi and other students from marginalized and Bahujan backgrounds have access to hostels and other amenities.”

Text

We are deeply disturbed and dismayed at the unprecedented decision of the administration of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to suddenly ‘close down sine die’ its Hyderbaad off-campus in the wake of a week-long protest by the student community. We are also quite concerned at the manner in which the administration has sought to ‘respond’ to the peaceful protests of the students, which include young dalit, adivasi and women students.
From across the country, we have been witnessing the multiple rounds of protests by the students of TISS since last year, with completely fair and reasonable demands to ensure inclusive and accessible education, especially to students from marginalized backgrounds. It is a very unfortunate state of affairs that students have to repeatedly keep protesting for their legitimate demands and this time around, about 13 students had to even go on a hunger strike for the third consecutive day.
It has come to our notice that the administration has arbitrarily decided that students should pay Rs 54,650 upfront for tuition fee and hostel, without which they will not be allowed access to hostel accommodation.
This is clearly an exclusionary step whereby most students belonging to socio-economically marginalized communities will not be able to continue education and in an indirect way reinforces rigid caste structures whereby students only from certain social locations can access quality education. Such a huge monetary expectation runs contrary to the spirit and purpose of an exemplary institution like TISS as well as the previous guidelines which stipulated payment of Rs 15,000 as accommodation charges over three instalments.
In addition to the demand of reinstating the earlier fee structure, the TISS Hyderabad Student Action Committee (SAC) also raised in its Charter of Demands the need to enable those students unable to immediately pay the dining hall fee with the option of paying their dues once their student aid and scholarship amounts are disbursed.
The fulfilment of this demand requires that the institute provide an assurance to the service provider (the private party running hostel on TISS campus) to this effect, which the administration is reportedly unwilling to do.
It is also quite disconcerting that the TISS management seems unwilling to uphold principles of transparency and display its tender documents and contract with the private party, CN Reddy, despite repeated demands from students. This is even more worrying since the private party is charging the students hostel fee for 6 months at an exorbitant rate of Rs. 8,600 per month, while the semester itself is only for a period of four months (while reportedly the same service provider charges Rs 4,500 outside)!
Students have also been complaining that the location of the girls’ hostel is unsafe, with many women facing street sexual harassment near the hostel. However, we are informed that the administration has denied responsibility for their living conditions, stating that the campus is ‘non-residential’ from the current academic year.
Furthermore, the only ‘solution’ that the private hostel owner now offers to the girl students is a suggestion to ‘return back by 9:30 pm’! It is also a matter of record that with no campus of its own, the TISS-Hyderabad has shifted thrice, first from the Roda Ministry Social Work Campus, Gachibowli to the Telangana State Institute of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development campus, Rajendra nagar to Turkyamanjal now, which is further away from the city.
We would like to state that we have perused through the letter dt. 12th July, 2019 from Prof. U. Vindhya, Deputy Director (Acting) TISS, Hyderabad Off-campus addressed to the students as well as the Sine Die Notice dated July 15 of Acting Registrar MP Balamurugan and understand that over the past week some efforts were being taken by the administration to have a dialogue and address some of the demands of the students, although not to their complete satisfaction and in writing.
We also acknowledge the initiative taken meanwhile by TISS to approve an interim, financial support of Rs 15,000 for each GOI-PMS student to pay the Service Provider for admission into the hostel, benefitting about 26 GOI-PMS student (out of a reported 36 eligible students). However, as the students rightly point out, these are piece-meal efforts and what is required is a more structured and sustainable solution to the issue that is available both to the present and subsequent batches of students. 
As you all are well aware, the very legitimate agitation of the students at TISS-Hyderabad is situated within the larger struggle to ensure a nation-wide fully state-funded common education system that would uphold and not undermine the ideal of social justice. Previously, fee waiver of SC, ST, OBC (NC) students who avail GOI-PMS got cancelled in TISS. 
Exclusionary steps may force students from socio-economically marginalized communities to give up  education
High hostel prices and limited student aid has over the years led to a reduction in the number of SC, ST students on the campus. We are told, to our anguish that, as of now, there are only 26 students in the Hyderabad campus that study through GOI-PMS. The burden of the fund cuts of the institute is being shifted on the students from marginalized communities and this is certainly not in keeping with our constitutional spirit. This is a slow death of public higher education, where education is becoming a commodity only a few can afford.
In the past decade, we have been witness to protests by students as well as progressive faculty across the country trying to resist attempts of the state from withdrawal of higher education and during these years TISS was an institute that many of us ‘looked up to’ for upholding a certain degree of social commitment.
However, of late, the direction of the Institute has been quite disturbing and with this turn of events in Hyderabad the glorious history of TISS working as an institution to promote social justice values providing equitable access to education has been dented further. 
We also wish to state emphatically that campus issues need to be resolved amicably by the administration, faculty and students and nothing can justify calling in the police to deal with peaceful protests. The sine die closure order, asking all the students to vacate the campus by 5 pm, reflects badly on the institution which is unable to address the issue and rather affecting the education of all other students.
We earnestly appeal to administration, faculty and students to engage in another round of constructive dialogue and amicably resolve the matter. Given the power hierarchy, the administration clearly has a greater role in this context.
We stand in solidarity with the student community at this moment in their struggle to uphold ideals of social justice and their right to seek accessible, quality education with safety and dignity. It pains us to state that the approach of a) not engaging adequately and comprehensively with the student’s demands and b) unilaterally shutting down the Hyderabad centre, does not behove an institution of the nature and statue of TISS. In the light of the above, we call upon you to immediately:
  • Revoke the administrative order to close the Hyderabad Centre of TISS of sine die.
  • Take necessary steps to ensure that Dalit, Adivasi and other students from marginalized and Bahujan backgrounds have access to hostels and other amenities. 
  • Ensure proper medical support to students who have been on hunger strike for the past three days. 
We look forward to immediate response and action from you in the interests of the students and justice.

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Across the board, among Muslims, Hindus, there's enormous fury at Delhi Police: Report

Counterview Desk
A quick report, prepared by Delhi's concerned citizens, "Let Us Heal Our Dilli", based on one-day visit (February 27) to several areas and mohallas of North East Delhi affected by the riots that gripped the country's capital -- Bhajanpura, Chand Bagh, Gokulpuri, Chaman Park, Shiv Vihar, Main Mustafabad (including Bhagirathi Vihar and Brijpuri) -- has said everywhere there is "zero trust" towards that the police.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.