Press Release by TISS Student Union — March 1, 2018
The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road
New Delhi – 110 011
February 28, 2018
REGARDING DEMANDS OF STUDENTS OF TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES
We, the students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences writing this to seek your urgent attention to the protests going on since the last one week at Mumbai, Tuljapur, Guwahati and Hyderabad campuses of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a Deemed to be University as per University Act 1954 (3 of 1956) No. F,1122/62U2 which is fully funded by University Grants Commission (UGC) /Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India. TISS has around 5000 B.A., M.A., M.Phil and PhD students studying across four campuses. Adhering to the Government of India guidelines, students belonging to SC/ST/OBC (NC)/PWD and economically marginalized communities have had the opportunity to study at TISS. However, since the last few years students belonging to SC, ST and OBCs are facing problems to study in the institute due to constant scholarship issues with special reference to the post-matric scholarship (GOI PMS) for the SC/ST/OBC categories.
As the scholarship provided under GOI-PMS scheme was not sufficient to match the exorbitant fee structure at TISS, the administration had introduced a system of “fee exemption”, where SC/ST/OBC were exempted from payment of the tuition, dining hall and hostel fee. This was done in the context where students from the said communities were not able to get into the institute (according to the provisions of reservation) due to their incapability to cover their fee. The constitutional provisions of reservation for these categories were met only after the introduction of fee-exemption. Hence, we view this act not as a charity/ favour or even “freeship” done by either TISS or the Government of India but the entitlement and the right of the students, more importantly as the constitutional provision mandated by the Constitution of India.
In an unprecedented move, TISS administration suspended the fee exemption for the OBC NC students in the year 2014 and for the SC/ST students in the year 2016, and students have been opposing this since then. All of these students now need to pay the full fees as prescribed for the general category students. We have also observed through the RTI reply that since 2015, the enrolment rate of the students belonging from SC/ST and OBC is going down, as well as there is an increase in their drop-out ratio. We understand this as a larger problem of fund cuts for the public education, and socio-economically marginalized communities being the immediate victims of such policy. We have raised these concerns time and again with our institute authorities and would like to raise this issue with the Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and Ministry of Tribal Affairs, UGC, MHRD, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Minority Affairs and the respective state governments and other concerned departments. We have attached the demands made to the institute and would hereby demand your attention to the particular needs concerning your ministry/department/state/institution.
Therefore, the students at Tata Institute of Social Sciences hereby seek your attention to the following issues:
1. We demand special attention of the ministry on this matter, since this concerns the core ideals for which the Ministry stands for. We demand to increase the amount of the GOI-PMS Scholarship to the SC/ST and OBC NC ( for B.A./M.A./M.Phil and Ph.D.) as per the expenses made by institute on each student and disburse it in advance so that the students are not forcefully asked to take loans to pay their fee in advance by the institute. Introduce the policy/GR/guidelines which indicate that the scholarship will be increased by using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) method every year.
2. Write a letter to the head of the institute, TISS Mumbai requesting to continue the support to all GOI-PMS students and support the institute across all campuses (Mumbai, Tuljapur, Hyderabad and Guwahati) for all the courses with reference to the students from SC/ST and OBC NC ( B.A./M.A./M.Phil and PhD).
3. Issue guidelines to all the universities including TISS to set up an SC, ST, and OBC Cell/Student Protection Office with the appointment of licensing officer/Dean who must belong to SC/ST/OBC category to prevent discrimination against SC/ST or OBC students at the University/Institute.
4. Uniform income ceiling should be implemented throughout the states for the scholarship, as the prescribed Rs. 2.5 Lakhs ceiling by Union Government is not followed by every state.
5. At present the OBC NC students whose family income is below 1 lakh rupees are eligible for 100% GOI scholarship. We demand all the OBC NC students get the 100% scholarship.
6. We seek special attention of the ministry to the lives of the students particularly belonging to the SC/ST and OBC. They have not only become the victims of historical injustice done to them but also being the first victims of the fund cuts in the higher educational institutions. We demand the ministry to take a lead role to provide a sustainable and long-term solution for this.
7. The fellowship notifications for the RJNF (SC/ST/OBC) and Maulana Azad fellowships for the M.Phil and PhD students have not come out since last two years. This has made far-reaching impacts on the enrolment of the students from SC/ST/OBC and Minorities. We demand these notifications are issued on time and fellowship is being disbursed on time. It has been observed that there is a sharp decline in the number of RJNF fellowship offered.
Students Union 2017-18
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai