My Report I TISS Scrapped my Course & Plans to Shut my Hostel Too
“Chappa chappa gunj uthega inquilab ke naro se”: Why is the student community in TISS Hyderabad protesting?
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“I am the first person from my village to come to TISS for my Masters. If the hostel facilities are not provided from the next academic year, I cannot afford to rent out an apartment.”Bhagyashree, a Women’s Studies student of TISS Hyderabad
Bhagyashree is one among the students who have availed the Government of India Post-Matric Scholarship (GOI-PMS) and would be severely affected by the declaration of the Hyderabad campus as a non-residential one.
On 31 October, the student community of TISS Hyderabad discovered via a newspaper advertisement that the BA Social Sciences (BASS) course has been deferred from the next year for an unspecified period of time. Furthermore, it was implied that the campus would be non-residential from 2019.
When no accountability or transparency was forthcoming from the administration, the Student Council 2018-2019 decided to go for a fee boycott, wherein the students would not pay the fees for the next semester until they were provided with clarifications.
After the declaration of the fee boycott, the members of the Council met the Director of TISS, Shalini Bharat on 22 November. It was communicated from the meeting that the decisions taken would not be reversed. A student’s collective was formed and an indefinite protest by way of boycotting lectures was called from 10 December.
Two days later, with the support of the Student Council, the students decided to stage a lockout protest. Soon after, a Student’s Action Committee (SAC) was formed to organise and conduct the protest. Friday happened to be the fifth day of the protest and third day of the lockdown; most of our questions still remain unanswered. This is the kind of apathy the administration has demonstrated to the student body at large.
When the SAC met the administration again on 13 December, it was mentioned that the existing batches would be provided with the hostel accommodation. However, the students have to micromanage the process of accommodation by contacting the vendors and the institute would “support” them.
Till now we had a service provider for hostels. It was selected by the management through tenders. Now that it’ll become non-residential, no more tenders will be invited. TISS will not take any responsibility for accommodation of students. Food, safety, security and hygiene will all now be at stake.
Also, it was clarified that the new batches would no longer be able to avail the same facilities. Such a decision by the institution can act as a barrier for the entry of students from the diverse social institutions of caste, class and gender.
For example, Bhagyashree said that she had applied and chosen to study at TISS because the institute had assured her of hostel facilities.
“Almost 20-25 students are preparing for TISS-NET from my village in Darjeeling. This decision by the management would make them reconsider their future plans and further disable their academic pursuit at TISS.”Sheetal, student of MA Education
Sheetal added that this would further restrict students from opting for TISS in the first place. The administration refused to comment on reinstating the BA course as it was outside its purview.
Coming from one of the remotest areas of West Champaran district of Bihar, Shushmita Kumari belong to the Tharu Tribal community.
Her parents are illiterate and work as daily wagers. She has five sisters and one brother. There are no basic facilities such as good schools, roads, hospitals, electricity and so on in her village.
The Masters programme in Development Studies that she is pursuing has given her a new perspective and confidence.
But the administration is now taking that space away from all of us.
And now with the arbitrary decision of discontinuing the hostels altogether, life is being made even more uncertain for many young girls.
Shushmita is the only person in her village to have come this far. The administration has washed its hands off the responsibility of students who come from marginalised sections. They will have no security and a greater financial vulnerability.
The decision to defer the BASS comes at a time when there is a systematic shutting down of arts and humanities courses across the country. For example, this very off-campus of TISS had also deferred MA in HRM and MPhil in Women’s Studies in the past. With more and more courses shut down every year, one can wonder if TISS will cease to have a campus in Hyderabad altogether.
This might restrict the entry of young girls to TISS. This will also compromise with the safety and security of the students. As mentioned earlier, students from marginalised sections of the society are not likely to be able to afford the private hostel facilities.
Once that happens, it will become debatable if the university practices social inclusion and social justice in reality, which apparently form the fundamental values of the institute.
The absolute disregard of students’ demands has resulted in a decision for the protests to take the a further step. About 100 students have decided to stay back on campus and remain here till the concerned authorities address them. We demand answers from the administration, which has belittled and humiliated us at every front. Sadly, the success of this protest and our demands remains uncertain even today.
All we hope to do is to paint the walls of our temporary campus with the songs of resistance. “Chappa chappa gunj uthega inquilab ke naro se”. Long live student unity. Inquilab Zindabad.
(The Quint tried calling TISS, Hyderabad but the numbers provided on the official website went unanswered. We have also sent an email to the university seeking their response. This MyReport will be updated as soon as we hear from them.
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