Published: 18th December 2018
More than 100 academicians stand in support of fasting students of TISS Hyd
A statement released in support of the TISS students appealed to the administration to reverse its decision. It was signed by academicians across the globe.
As the indefinite hunger strike by the students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, grew a day older, the members of the Students' Action Committee claimed that they now stand stronger with the support of 122 academics, including well-known names like C P Chandrasekhar, who have released a statement appealing the TISS administration to reverse the decision. Neither the five students, who are fasting, nor the SAC has received any response from the administration yet.
The "academicians, intellectuals and members of civil society" expressed their concern over the discontinuation of the bachelor’s in social science in TISS Hyderabad. "This is a unique undergraduate programme that combines a strong interdisciplinary approach with a robust commitment to social justice and social change. Since its inception, it has built a diverse student body fostering critical thought in theory as well as practice," read the statement which was signed by academicians from across the globe. "Given the overall attack on academic institutions, privatisation of education and saffronisation of curriculum content, it is vital that we preserve and strengthen progressive programmes like the BA in Social Sciences. We are also disturbed to hear that, in line with neo-liberal prescriptions, Tata Institute of Social Sciences has decided to withdraw residential facilities for students in its Hyderabad campus, thereby depriving students of marginalised and oppressed sections the chance to avail of quality higher education."
Inspire To Fight: Rohith Vemula's mother Radhika Vemula addresses the students on the first day of their hunger strike (Pic: Bibin Sam Thomas)
Rohith Vemula's mother Radhika Vemula and brother Raja have also extended their support towards the students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad when they commenced their indefinite hunger strike at 9 am on December 17. The Telangana Save Education Committee also joined the students.
The administration's decision came when the students were on their semester break and even though there has been no official notice yet the administration, allegedly, has confirmed that they will not budge from their decision. "Two of our students met the administrative staff at the Mumbai campus and they were told that this decision was being taken due to the lack of infrastructure. While it's true that the institute operates out of the Telangana State Institute of Panchayat Raj and Rural Development's campus, it has been like this from the first day. There has been no change in the situation to prompt such a decision," said Bibin Sam Thomas, a final year BA Social Science student. "We got to know about the issue when people tried to apply for the BA course and could not find a link on the website. Then came news reports saying that the course has been scrapped and they will also discontinue hostel facilities. Our first form of protest was to boycott fees. That's all we could do from home."
It's not just the BA students protesting, some of the MA students have also boycotted their classes and are participating in the protest. The management committee met the student representatives at 3.30 pm on December 13 — but the protest intensified after the talks turned out to be futile. "The Deputy Director along with the management committee members shrugged off all the responsibilities. He said that our demands venture into issues that the Hyderabad administration cannot decide. They said that they equivocally support the decision," said Vaivab Das, MA in Women Studies, "They said that they empathise with us but they have to stand by the declaration, when we told them that making the campus non-residential will make the institute inaccessible to a large section who cannot afford private accommodation."
An emergency meeting was called on December 15 and the students decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike till their demands are met or the management is ready for some negotiation.