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JNU like protests at TISS in Mumbai – how political propaganda works on campuses

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Student Union of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) declared a complete boycott of classes and all academic activities on 21st Feb 2018 saying that TISS Administration has stopped the funding for students of marginalized sections. They also said that Government of India- Post Matric Scholarships has been stopped and so we should protest.

They blocked the main gate of the Main Campus which is on Mumbai-Pune highway in Chembur. With that, all other campuses of TISS also followed as I came to know about it. In the Mumbai campus, as the main gate was blocked and all people were asked to come from the back gate which is more than half a kilometer from there. I supported this strike when I first heard about it but at that time I was unaware of the details as to what followed what. That day we had an exam and some classes all of which were canceled. Initially, I thought that as it’s a college where anyone’s choice to not take part in the protest and continue his or her classes/exams will be respected. But that did not happen and I know one of the students who was not allowed to attend a class he wanted to attend. This is one such incident.

Another incident was that one of the lady staff member who is visually impaired was not allowed to enter the campus from the main gate and was asked to go from the back gate. This seemed so disgusting to me that I decided to write this article. In one other incident on the second day.

Our warden was coming back to the campus with her daughter who is appearing/preparing for her class 12th Board Exams. They were stopped at the gate and were asked to go from the back gate. When warden’s daughter protested that she is not any staff member so she should not be stopped. Warden Ma’am also had a heated discussion with the people protesting. After that, they said that her daughter can go from the gate but her Mother (warden) has to go from the back gate. And warden’s residence was just near the main gate of the campus. To this warden’s daughter started crying and told them that how can they do this that her mother has to go from the back gate of the campus and she can go from the main gate that to their own home residence. I was standing there with one of my friends (we were actually leaving for our rooms but when we saw warden we stopped to see what is happening). My friend had a bike, so we requested ma’am that we can drop her on bike and her daughter went from the main gate. This just made me angrier and gave me even more than a reason to write this article.

I know as a fact that most of the State Govts. under GoI-PMS transfer their the fund directly to the account of the students who apply in their respective states. Earlier the funds used to come to the account of the institution. So, now institute has made a policy that, the student should deposit the fees first and with the fee statement apply for the scholarship so that he or she will get the money reimbursed that he or she has paid. Even institute has extended the date for submission for the fee for such GoI PMS eligible students at the time when I took admission. But, now the students are claiming that the scholarship has been stopped which in any sense is not true.

Now, another angle here is that GoI PMS is only for SC, ST and OBC students with some income criteria applicable to them for availing the scholarship. So, here what actually the protestors are trying to do is that polarize the students on the caste lines. One of the person I know who is pursuing his M.Phil told me that although he does not support this strike as he knew the real facts, but his friends persuaded him for joining the strike by saying that “tum backward class ke ho, tumhe sharm aani chahiye ki tum hamara support nahi kar rahe ho”.

Somehow he came under peer pressure. So, the caste lines, which are the biggest fault lines in our country is being exploited in the most despicable ways. Student Union has not done anything which can be called remarkable since they got elected but its interesting to note that they are showing their full support and strength in this issue particularly when its going to be dissolved in few days as academic year is going to end soon. And when that’s the case, what’s the best thing other than caste equations to exploit.

Now on the third day i.e. 23rd Feb 2018, some faculty also came to support the students and they even tried to re-invigorate the energy for strike which somehow was at its dampening position. And today a great “secular” person who earlier used to advise “Ford Foundation” tweeted in support of the TISS strike. On the second day JNUSU and Hyderabad University Students Union also sent their support statement for this strike. On the first day some so called “leading newspaper” covered this news and till second day, the news was covered by almost all national dailies as well as an infamous news channel based in Delhi. All these things happened in just 3 days, and if I connect the dots, I find that it was never spontaneous and all the checkpoints are part of a big ecosystem which works in India day and night, but no one correctly knows who pays them.

TISS posters TISS postersEarlier I was not sure, but as I saw these posters, everything in my mind added up to form the correct pattern which essentially tells me that this protest is big sham and is totally politically motivated and no one is interested to solve the problems of the students who really need the scholarships.

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