Published: 31st May 2017
With no student union to lead protest, TISS students bombard college authorities with emails demanding roll back of new circular that makes Aadhar compulsory, stops scholarships for SC, ST, OBC
A few weeks ago, TISS director had warned that three departments would be shut due to no government funding, the same problem comes back to haunt students of the new academic year but with much worse.
In retaliation to the recent amendments to the fee structure and admissions at the Tata Institute, students are now intentionally flooding the mail inboxes of college authorities demanding answers to their queries.
On May 25, the students all got a circular that listed out a long set of new rules that has put many students' futures in question. The Institute has now made Aadhar card compulsory for newly enrolling students and existing students as well, without which the student's admissions will be cancelled. However, what is all the more shocking is that all forms of scholarships for SC, ST and OBC will be stopped and these students have only two weeks to make arrangement for the fees. Just when you think that it can't get any worse, the students have been told that all the fees- tuition, hostel, dining all have to be paid at once!
"Pay back loans after you get jobs"
The circular also "advises" students to avail loans and pay them off when they get jobs.
The institute has also brought in a biometric attendance system that was vehemently protested again and rejected by the student union when it was introduced last year. However, this time round, since it is the semester break there is no functioning student body and therefore no one to question the new rules.
Not taking 'no' for an answer
Yet, the students are not willing to sit back, students from campuses across the country have come together and taken the decision to flood the email inboxes of the director, registrar and Dean of Students' Affair with mails asking for further explanations, "We're trying to do as much as we can to force them to roll back this circular. Since there is no student body right now, so this is the campaign that we are carrying out. We formed a committee and decided to strategically protest, we've been at it from Sunday afternoon," said Gideon Balasingam, a student.
We formed a committee and decided to strategically protest, we've been at it from Sunday afternoon.
Gideon Balasingam, Student
Despite, the flooding mails that have been sent, Balasingam said that the director chose to apply to only three of the mails, in which he asks the students to work with the Institute to raise resources instead of "making demands".
Money for biometric attendance but not scholarships?
To this, the students elaborated on four points- they questioned why the authorities were investing in expensive surveillance when the college was claiming to have no money ( a similar point was raised by JNU students when the university installed CCTV cameras on campus). Secondly, the students questioned why the college had made Aadhar card compulsory when the court had ruled that it wasn't essential.
To these queries and others, the students received a 'You will not understand" reply.
With only two weeks left to gather funds, students and parents are both panicked and running around for loans while some other contemplate discontinuing.
Students in panic mode over 2-week notice
When Mary Gurung (name changed) got into TISS for her Master in Social Work, she was ecstatic, not just because it is such an esteemed institution but because she would be eligible for the Government of India approved scholarship for Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
Gurung's father is a pastor of a small church in Manipur and therefore doesn't get a big salary, "Some of our basic necessities are taken care of by the Church and besides that my father gets a small salary. So the scholarship was what has kept me going and this news has sent me and my family into shock. Where will I go for 50,000 rupees?" said a panicked Gurung.
Giving up the course half way through is also not an option she wants to choose, the postgraduate students says but she has no clue as to what to do next either. "If nothing really changes in our favour then our only plan is getting loans from local money lending groups," Gurung said.
Students considering dropping out too
While Gurung is still planning on getting a loan, there are some like Arun S (name changed) who don't want to put their family through any strain, so are considering quitting the course. Arun, who is also visually impaired comes from a lower income background, "But it's not just me, it's about so many others like me who are also suffering. Where will we go for funds?"