ST/SC Students continuous goes-hunger strike on the 21th day of the protest at TISS, Guwahati
“We are hungry and in pain for education. We are not giving up until our demands are met. We will bear the sun, rain and suffer to protect the futures of our brothers and sisters”
43 ST, SC and OBC students of Tata Institute of Social sciences, Guwahati began with the indefinite hunger strike on 12th March, 2018, with the support of hundreds of fellow students. The hunger strike continues to the second day as the steps taken by TISS administration in Guwahati and Mumbai are not what the protesters are demanding. Within the campus administrative and academic activities continue. Students term it as a ‘black day for education’ in an institute with the vision to serve the poor and marginalized but unfortunately failed to do so by cutting students aid, framing policies which automatically restrict students from poor and marginalised communities not to apply to institute in the future.
In two days, the indefinite hunger strike has witnessed a series of attempts made by the administration to dilute the hunger strike with words and warnings of unpleasant law and order situations. Students strongly denied withdrawing and continuing to uphold its demands through a peaceful and democratic protest.
To the surprise of all the protesting students, TISS Guwahati administration has even restricted media entry inside the campus. Students claimed “This is nothing but the tactics to silent the voice of the marginalized”. Further, the President of the GOI-PMS students association stated “when contacting with media is termed wrong, now you see how much the administration cares for our demands. Whatever it might take, we are not giving up, and we will not rest until our demands are met.”
The protest began on 21st February, 2018, with many demands being put forward across four campuses in Mumbai, Guwahati, Tuljapur and Hyderabad. Demands of students to waive off fee for the already enrolled students were considered by TISS administration. However, the matter for the students in the process of applying for the 2018 session and future aspirants remains uncertain. The protest has intensified in order to question the very existence of TISS Guwahati off-campus where 66% seats are reserved for students from eight North Eastern States.
So far development
A committee was formed along TISS and University Grants Commission (UGC) to address the issues in all four campuses. According to TISS administration, this committee is meant to review or look into the issues. This, students say is very vague. Also according to students, TISS has already taken the decisions not to provide full fee waive-off for the upcoming batches from 2018. So the students demand that if TISS wants to resolve the issues, it should do so by assuring to waive off the fees of the upcoming batches, which is the only demand of the agitators at Guwahati campus and then form a committee to look into the concerns of the upcoming batches.
The Statements and Demands of the GOI-PMS Students Association
We the GOI-PMS Students Association, TISS, Guwahati today resolve to intensify our protest by taking up extreme steps of Hunger strike as we have no other choice left for us. The administration needs to waive off the Fee (including Dining Hall and Hostel Charges) for the socially marginalized (ST, SC and OBC’s) and economically backward students who wish to study various courses from June 2018 at the earliest.
Today is our 21th day of protest since 21st February, 2018. The TISS, Administration cannot further delay our demands as the interview process for student’s admission will start from 26th March, 2018. We want to ensure that the no aspiring students abandon their opportunity to come and study in good educational institution because of their poor economic background. As per the notification from the Directorate Office of Tata Institute of Social Sciences dated 2nd March, 2018, it is clear that the issues addressed are only concerned with the current batches of students enrolled at the institute availing GOI-PMS scholarships. It is apparent that this move is utter negligence on the part of TISS, Administration for the future coming batches belonging to ST/SC/OBC-NC categories with poor economic background. This contradicts the vision that the institute claimed to endorse towards “Social Justice.”
The vision for setting up TISS, Guwahati campus was to develop it as a world class Social Sciences institution to create human resources and knowledge contributing to build just and peaceful societies across the North-Eastern States. Its mandate is to serve the eight states in the North Eastern India and thus reserves 66% of the total seats for candidates from these states. Majority of these students enrolled from the region belongs to poor economic background. Without the fee waiver, the chance for these aspiring students to get admitted into the institute would become a distant dream. So, the 66% reservation would be filled up by students who are from the affluent background. We believe that this will further widen the gap of social disparities.
Students bodies/organization across the North East region and beyond came to support and show solidarity to the movement. Protesting students thanks ‘We all brothers and sisters are thankful to students bodies and organizations who are present and support in our last resort of indefinite Hunger Strike.
On the first day of the hunger strike, the peaceful and democratic hunger strike by students was disrupted by Assam police at 2:00 P.M, attempting to arrest to the students leaders. Protesting students, various students’ organization and supporting civilians condemn the act of police. Students take the hunger strike inside the institute campus and indefinite hunger strike continuous at TISS Guwahati Campus, Jalubari Guwahati.
On behalf of the GOI-PMS Students Association (Government of India Post Matric Scholarships) Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati Campus.