FTII Pune Merit List Shows 'Vacant' SC, ST, and OBC Seats; Students Protest

Students allege that several departments have not filled seats that are reserved for OBC, SC, and ST candidates.

4 min read

Of the 11 seats in the editing department of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, one seat lies vacant for the current batch. The vacant seat happens to be the one reserved for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. The institute has not released a waiting list for this vacancy either, as per the merit list uploaded on the premier institute's website.

Students currently studying in the institute now allege that across several departments of the FTII, seats that are reserved for OBC, Scheduled Castes (SC), and Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates have not been filled. In a statement dated 30 July, the FTII Students' Association, alleged, "Many seats, as well as waitlist positions in the OBC, SC, and ST categories, have not been filled, citing reasons of ineligibility."

Students began protesting in the campus on 29 July soon after the institute released the list for the current year, or the batch of 2021 (the institute is running behind because of pandemic-induced delays).

The Quint accessed the merit list, which was published by the FTII for the upcoming year on 26 July, and analysed the seats that lie vacant – most of which are reserved for the SC, ST, EWS (economically weaker sections), and OBC categories.

Vacancies Across Departments

The FTII offers seven three-year-long post-graduate (PG) diploma courses under the "Film" wing and four one-year-long PG diploma courses under the "Television" wing. Most of the courses have a strength of 11 students each.

Each course has seats reserved for general, OBC non-creamy layer (OBC NCL), Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Economically Weaker Sections (EWS). In addition to this list, the institute also releases a waitlist in each of the categories.

As per the merit list, the "Art Direction and Production Design" course did not have any names under the ST and EWS categories for the upcoming year. There were no names on the waitlist either.

The "Electronic Cinematography" course did not have any candidates under the EWS category. They had only one name under the OBC waitlist and none under the EWS and ST categories.

The "Sound Recording and Television Engineering" course had no candidates under the ST quota. The waitlist did not have any names under the SC and EWS categories.

There were no OBC candidates in the waitlist for the "Screenacting" course.
There were no candidates in the waitlist for the SC and EWS categories of the "Art Direction and Product Design" course either.

The Quint had reached out to Sandeep Sahare, Director of FTII, regarding this and the ongoing protests, but has not received a response yet. The story will be updated if, and when, he responds.

A student from the "Direction and Screenplay Writing (Films)" course, who is part of the association, claimed:

"This has been a trend for the past few years. This, however, is the first time that there are so many vacant seats."
A student from the Direction and Screenplay Writing course

What Is FTII's Reservation Policy?

The cut-offs have been set at 50 percent for general category students, 45 percent for OBC-NCL and EWS candidates, and 40 percent for the SC, ST, and Person with Disabilities (PwD) categories.

As per the admission prospectus of 2021, 15 percent of seats in each specialisation are reserved for the SC category, 7.5 percent for ST, 27 percent for OBC-NCL, 10 percent for the EWS category, and five percent for the PwD category.

The association said in the statement, "When questioned, the authorities mentioned that many candidates did not pass their cut off percentages (45 percent for OBC-NCL and Gen EWS, 40 percent for SC and ST and Gen PwD and 50 percent for General). There is no transparency about how these figures are arrived upon and by whom, not to mention that the validity of this criteria is questionable by itself."


Ongoing Protests on Campus

Steffi, a final-year student of the Cinematography Department, and a member of the students' association said, "When we asked the administration about this, they said that candidates have not passed their cut-off percentages. This means that the seats will probably go to those from the general category or they will remain vacant."

She added that many aspiring candidates from the above-mentioned categories "have reached out to us regarding the vacant seats but there is no clarity if these seats will be filled or not."

The students' association said that since the orientation and interview process accounts for 80 percent of the total grade in the admission, there is a question of ambiguity.

The association said in their statement, "This leaves the process ambiguous to those who want to question the reasons why some candidates have been deemed ineligible. Even so, it is evident that a bias exists in how candidates are evaluated and deemed ineligible as our reserved seats remain unoccupied by aspirants from those categories across different departments."

The student body claimed that similar irregularities could be seen in the faculty recruitment of the FTII; "In the larger concern of following the Reservation policy, similar irregularities recur in the faculty recruitment of our institute. This is a growing trend that we have observed consistently over the years in an effort to put a filter on the incoming members in the institute as well as to mute our voices against their attacks on our basic social rights."

Students have demanded that the institute re-evaluate their results as well as their eligibility criteria.

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