In a highly unacceptable and condemnable move, the Tata Institute of Social Science has sought to implement compulsory fee payment (hostels, academic and other infrastructural expenses) for currently registered students in the institution, including those having sought admission on the basis of Government of India Post Metric Scholarship (GOI PMS). The announcement was done in an impromptu manner without proper deliberation with concerned student community and has severely affected the situation of students already enrolled under these provisions as their registrations stand to be blocked till the reimbursement of fee. The grievance letter from the student council points towards the lack of empathy of the admin for the students of SC/ST/OBC community and at instances of discrimination on the basis of caste. It is to be noted that these scholarships are available only to students hailing from highly marginalized backgrounds with little financial stability. The deliberate attempt of doing away with the basic support system for students hailing from marginalized sections is a direct attack on the fabric of the right to education guaranteed by our constitution. This move is highly condemnable as it seeks to diminish the inclusive space of academia and essentially reserve the right to education for the wealthy. This fellowship has been an empowering tool for students of limited means, particularly women students and the throttling of such bears immense consequences in academia as a whole. The careless attitude of the University administration towards the detailed notes of grievances forwarded to the administration by both the TISS Mumbai and TISS Hyderabad Student Councils reflects the callous approach to this entire matter and their disinterest in providing sustainable education to even the most marginalized communities of our society. We would like to remind the TISS administration of their primary duty of serving the student community over their own corporate tie ups and arrangements.
The recent government policies with a clear a thrust on privatization and saffronisation of education have been severely affecting scholars. From fund cuts and seat cuts in research, to doing away with government fellowships and subsistence charges for marginalized community is a glaring example of the shrinking inclusive space of academia. We see this a part of a chain of events occurring across educational institutions in our country where slowly changes are being made to facilitate the neo liberal corporate agenda and turn institutions into mass churning factories for corporate interest. The right to education is being throttled everyday where institutions are focusing less on the infrastructural development to accommodate every section of the society and more on homogenization of the student body through regressive anti-student policies that serves their own agendas. An educational institution serves as a harbinger for inclusive ideas in a heterogeneous yet unified society and any attempt to disturb such ought to be resisted at every cost. It must be kept in mind that such incidents are not isolating events rather a symptom of misplaced priorities of the government, in a country which is being plagued by atrocities on women and the marginalized sections. In this context, the struggle of the students of TISS to save the inclusive and democratic ethos of the campus, serves as an inspiration to other campuses to follow the suit.
From Students’ Federation of India, we salute the ongoing struggle of the students of TISS and want to reiterate our active support to this cause. The fight is long from over. The People United Shall Always Be Victorious.