The Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad has been on a complete standstill since February 21, 2018. The student body here responded swiftly to the call for a complete university strike by the Student’s Union in TISS Mumbai, and have since continued their boycott and agitation against the withdrawal of scholarships for SC/ST and OBC (NC) students entitled to the GOI-PMS (Government of India-Post Matriculation Scholarship). Given the outrageous amount of money TISS demands for a degree despite being a ‘public’ institution; the withdrawal of the fee waiver obviously came as a huge setback for the students from marginalised communities who constitute a significant part of the student community at TISS.
They have been left to grapple with the situation by an institute which teaches ‘social equality and inclusion’ and has centres for Dalit and Tribal Studies. Most importantly, this arbitrary decision making on the part of the administration has rendered fuel to fire; especially to the students in the other campuses as they have been facing several other problems like poor infrastructure, placement issues, security concerns and sky-high hostel fees. Sadly, it is not just the administration but also the common people who question the sudden uproar and boycott of classes.
The functioning of the Hyderabad administration hasn’t been all that smooth. There has been a history of administrative lapses, logistical errors and “miscommunications” between the students and administration since the establishment of the Hyderabad campus in 2012.
The administration shirks off its responsibilities by saying that it is beyond their power to make decisions as the autonomy to make decisions regarding financial as well as administrative matters rests with the authorities in Mumbai. Thus, leaving the students in a vacuum where they are unable to approach an accountable and reliable authority which listens and tries to solve their grievances.
Repeated requests year after year and expressing concern after concern to the ‘Mumbai Office’ has never led to any concrete solution. In fact, it has resulted in accumulation and escalation of issues to such a level that the student body can no longer sit on piles of mails of repeated requests to have their voices heard. The complete withdrawal of funds was the final blow to the student body.
For years, TISS Hyderabad has taught its students to be patient with the administration. They have lived with the hope that one day the ill-equipped library will get fixed, the unhealthy food and ludicrous hostel fees will change. They have accustomed themselves to the unhygienic and cramped hostels. They have struggled with the fee hikes, lack of transparency in the fee structure, a twisted form of the election process, and worsening security and safety conditions.
The student body has tried to express its concerns and show their dissent through different mild methods, which has eventually resulted in the emotional brainwashing of the administration, about not having a campus. But what does one do when one’s right to education is taken away mid-way into the course?