Published: 19th December 2018
TISS Hyd admin offers to reinstate BA Social Sciences course from 2020, students say not good enough
Five more students have joined the hunger strike and a total of 10 students are now fasting. They want the director to address them directly
The Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad's Internal Management Committee addressed the student protesters and intimated that they are in talks with the Director. The Committee also said that the director has conveyed that they would reinstate the BA in Social Science course from the academic year 2020-21 onwards and that hostel facility will be provided as it is now and that an "Empowered committee” will be constituted to look into the actualisation of the students' demands.
But this is not a good enough deal, the students say. "They will anyway scrap if for the next (2019-20) academic year. They said that if the institute gets adequate infrastructure, the course will be reinstated from 2020. There is no surety. One year is not sufficient to get enough infrastructure," said Krishnanath C, a member of the Students' Action Committee. "Five more students have joined the hunger strike and a total of 10 students are now fasting. We want the director to address us directly. Whatever they have promised is not on paper. We will continue the protest until our demands are met."
The indefinite hunger strike by the students had garnered support from 122 academics, including well-known names like C P Chandrasekhar, who have released a statement appealing the TISS administration to reverse the decision.
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.