In the latest episode of the series of onslaughts waged against students of this country, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) terminated the financial aid that had been given to SC, ST, OBC students as Government of India Post Matric Scholarships (GOI-PMS). COSTISA, the Coordination of Science and Technology Institute Students’ Association condemns this regressive move, and extends our solidarity to students of TISS who have called for a strike to resist it.
It has to be noted that the students chose the option of a strike as the last resort. In their statement, students’ union of TISS stated that they have been trying to negotiate with the administration for months. They were denied opportunity to present their concerns over the matter as an agenda of Academic Council held on 12 January 2018. The administration showed no concern for the lives of around 500 students coming from the most vulnerable sections of our society and is squarely to be blamed for the current situation.
The push towards privatisation has been going on in the institute for years now. The fees, after many fold increases, has now reached Rs. 70,000 – 80,000 per semester. The institute has justified this outrageous fees by calling itself a “premier” institute. Exclusion of majority from seeking and production of knowledge is now openly touted as the metric of eliteness. It is nothing but Brahmanism.
Any meaningful discussion about rising educational costs cannot miss the elephant in the room, that is the central government. The policy of successive governments over the past three decades has been to withdraw state support for education and encourage private institutions to grow. International treaties, designed to hand over decision making power over educational system to transnational institutions, are signed without care for future generations. The public spending on education is around one percent of GDP, which is abysmally low when compared to major developing nations, let alone the developed ones. India aspires to be a superpower by neglecting education. Even these modest funds are undergoing serious cuts under the current regime. The education budget which was 0.63 % of GDP in 2013-14 has dipped to 0.45 % for 2018-19. To say that the government doesn’t have money to spend on education is nothing but a sham. The total combined funds allocated to UGC and central universities this year, is Rs. 11, 218 crores- an amount the government can afford, if only they could manage to prevent a single scam!
In the spirit of fighting this injustice, we reiterate our support and solidarity towards the students of TISS, who are fighting not just for themselves, but for the whole student community of this country. We demand the TISS administration to heed to students’ well founded demands, including the demand to continue the financial support for SC, ST, OBC students. The administration also has to provide the documents that are demanded by the students which explains the institute’s total revenue and expenditure. The current government, while lacking even the modicum of spine when it comes to disciplining the rich and well-connected wrong doers, would never hesitate to unleash the full might of state to suppress any movement for social justice. Even such levels of brutality cannot subdue the aspirations of the vast underprivileged population of this country. With them we stand.
Coordination of Science and Technology Institutes’ Student Associations (COSTISA)
Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC), IIT Madras
Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle (APPSC), IIT Bombay
Students for Change (SFC), IIT BHU
Ambedkar Bhagat Singh Study Circle (ABSC), IIT Kharagpur
Concern, IISC Bengaluru