After 20 days of continued protests, and on the second day of the indefinite hunger strike, we are still unsure of the future of our fellow college mates. It is this uncertainty that led us to go on an indefinite hunger strike since March 12, 2018. We will continue with the hunger strike until and unless we receive concrete assurance that the Batch of 2018 will avail the same provisions and pay the same fee as the present GoI-PMS students. The students participating in the hunger strike will not go back on their conviction, for this is a commitment and sacrifice that we have decided to offer for a better and brighter future.
The Students of TISS Guwahati started the protest on February 21, 2018, demanding a fee waiver for students from the SC, ST and OBC-NC students, and to fight against the larger issue of privatisation of education, standing in solidarity with the students of TISS Mumbai, Hyderabad and Tuljapur.
The protests involved boycotting of classes and other academic activities by the students. The students gave it their all to convey the message of social justice to the larger public to gather support. Various students’ organisations in Guwahati participated in support of the students. A citizens’ meet was also organized on February 28, 2018, in which many organisations extended their solidarity for the cause.
After ten days of protest, the TISS administration with delegates from all campuses addressed few of our demands. In the plan of action drafted after the meeting, the fee waiver for the students eligible for GOI-PMS for Batch of 2015, 2016 and 2017 was confirmed. These students will continue to avail the scholarship.
Midway through the protests, students at TISS Guwahati were notified that the Students’ Union at TISS Mumbai had called off the strike. It was also decided that campus-specific issues would be addressed in a meeting to be held before April 30, 2018, in Mumbai with representatives from all campuses.
The notification wasn’t satisfactory for us at TISS Guwahati. Hence, we decided not to call off the strike till all the demands were addressed. The students believe that the protest should not end with the issues of only the current batches addressed. The issues concerning the upcoming Batch of 2018 is urgent and cannot wait until April to be addressed.
As a step in that direction, the GoI-PMS Students’ Association was formed in TISS Guwahati on March 7, 2018. The association will function as an autonomous body and will play a crucial role in carrying forward the issues of GoI-PMS students, as they are the ones directly affected by the issue.
The strike continues and has intensified on March 12, 2018, as the students have decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike demanding a fee waiver (hostel and dining hall fees) for ST, SC and OBC-NC students for the upcoming Batch of 2018 of all courses.
After 20 days of continuous protest, students are still determined to fight for social justice, hoping that the TISS administration will take the necessary steps.