Inclusion verging on exclusionary politics: TISS against privatization of education

Posted by Aishee Bhattacharjee
February 27, 2018

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The recent uproar regarding the sudden fee hike and removal of student financial aid in Tata Institute of Social Sciences campuses across India has drawn the attention of the masses towards this particular issue, but one needs to understand and place this issue in a larger context of the emerging issue of privatization of education in the nation presently. Simply rendering the dismissal of financial aid by higher TISS authorities to all the campuses across all courses to a specific issue located in a particular space needs to be problematised as this relates to the larger issue of governance by the state.

Regarding the context of TISS, the agenda of protesting against the refusal of provision of aid to the GOI students and simultaneously a continued fee hike each year needs to be placed within the emerging trend of shutting down state funded universities and the rise of private institutions. The larger scheme of the proposed 2018 budget depicts less than 4 percent increase in education sector and the spending is focused more on infrastructural measures rather than on teaching skills and a revision of mode and method of teaching (Nanda 2018). In TISS Guwahati campus, the new campus space has been equipped with CCTVs and projectors for digital pedagogy but on the hindsight there has been an increase in recruiting staffs on a contractual basis. We have two issues here- a statist approach on surveillance of its population adopted by the universities by investing more on infrastructural enhancement by introducing bio-metric attendance and placing CCTVs within the educational space and also a growth of informalisation of labour within a formal space of employment. Jan Breman talks about the project of bifurcation of labor in India during planning in which provisions like having labor laws, safe working condition, pensions, etc were allocated for the formal sector whereas the informal sector was compelled to dwell on uncertainties of market along with absence of such provisions by the state. Now with increase in privatization, the citizens are transformed into consumers and are compelled to spend on a basic necessity like education which should be funded by the state. The state’s refusal to allocate fund to education sector especially higher education denotes the exclusionary politics in the veil of inclusion. The state seeks to project the idea of compulsory education for all citizens till primary level beyond which the accessibility to quality pedagogy will be restricted to people who can afford to pay for it.

So where does the question of equity lie? Seeking to confine an issue like this to a particular campus and institute needs to be questioned. This has a national dimension to it and one should articulate the institutional authority dominance at a larger level of statist governance. To render a specific section of population deprived of certain provisions by the state based on arbitrary categories set by the state to demarcate a population based on a set financial bar is a means to hoodwink exclusionary tactics within a inclusionary framework by providing bare minimum education as ‘free and compulsory education for all’ under article 21 A in Indian constitution.

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