Struggle for Social Justice is long: TISS strike enters 18th day

This is the 18th day of the strike that was started by the students of TISS on February 21, 2018. Despite many attempts by the TISS administration to crush the struggle and a faction of students betraying the students’ movement, students have decided to continue the strike as the full charter of demands of the protesting students remains unmet, raising serious questions on the future of social justice principles that the institute claims to stand for. The historic students’ struggle has garnered a lot of support from various quarters, where progressive sections have alleged that the recent move is to keep students from marginalized backgrounds away from academia.

The students have resolved to continue the fight until ALL demands are met and have called for support from various students and progressive organisations. Here is the press release.

Press release and update : 18th day of strike at TISS Main Gate. 10th March 2018 

Dear fellow TISSians , 

Today is the 18th day of protest at TISS Mumbai. Strike at Guwahati is also continuing. We apologise for not having released an update earlier as we were pre occupied with various other things. 

On 6th of March we had a protest demo at the director's office after which the high empowered committee (HEC) approached us to talk to them. We came to find out that the HEC did not have much power to concretely decide on our demands and wasn't even clear about our charter of demands. We wanted the Admin to talk to us directly and hence we demonstarted again at director office next day to ensure a dialogue with us on our demands. Instead of coming out and addressing us Acting Director professor Shalini Bharat made a back door  exit  while we waited for her at the front door. Following this we had some conversation with the HEC and decided to discuss the demands with them. We were called for a meeting by the HEC next evening and they asked for a delegates meeting. The students delegates reported the same to GB. We came up with some questions in that GB which needed clarification. We again met with the HEC yesterday. In both the meeting the HEC maintained that they were  only decalring the notification  to us and did not want any more negotiation on our demands . They also refused to give the proposal in writing saying that it will be misused in media. Due to this, discussion on both days could not be held with much clarity as we lacked the written set of proposal. We wanted a written copy of the same which has been denied to us till now and not even uploaded to website. In this situation students have not been able to trust the word of the admin and admin is continuing to put pressure on us to end the strike and also empty the protest site at main gate . This needs to be made clear that the proposal pitched for upcoming batches of SC ST OBC is still very problematic and exclusionary . The problem of high upfront fee for OBC and asking SC ST students to pay the hostel and Dh fees (even if in installments) are bound to cause a loss in enrolment from GOI PMS category which we have voiced against since the beginning of the strike.  The only new things that has been offered in present (oral) proposal is the reduction in upfront fee payment to OBC students. They are agreeing to give some more students aid to OBC second year students (2018-19) in this proposal.

Our demands regarding the institute opening up it's financial details to us remains unheard. The large fee that the institute charges is one thing that is biggest reason why  the GOI students find it extremely difficult to cover the fee amount. We feel that the details of fee hike, how the money got used and in what is an important detail that we need to go through before we buy the arguments of TISS being in deficit.   We also got news that TISS has retracted from opening a centre in Kerala after the protest possibly due to pressure built by the movement that questioned irrational expansion of the institute at the cost of students. 

We feel that the institute is not understanding the crisis situation which the students are going through. And hence we are left with no option but to continue the strike till demands are met. It is a critical moment for the strike as the admin is slowly giving in to our demands and the struggle in other campuses is still continuing. It is very essential to keep the movement going so as to maintain pressure on admin and the central government to pay heed to vulnerable situation of students and act accordingly. We are planning to continue the protest and request students to join in whatever limited capacity that they can muster during the exam and submission period. We are also approaching different universities, ministeries and other eminent personalities to establish a discourse on the scholarship issues faced by SC, ST, OBC communities in institutions of higher education. The struggle for social justice is long one and has to be fought with determination. The Brahminical exclusion at play must be fought and the resistance should be build with all our might. We request everyone to rise above divisions and make an attempt to address the burning issues of scholarships , fee hike at national as well as institute level.