UGC releases Rs 11 crore for TISS following students’ strike but not for Scholarship issue; strike enters 27th day

By Staff Reporter

As the ongoing strike at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences enters its 27th day, the UGC announced the release of Rs 4.7 crore and Rs 6.35 crore towards arrears following more than three weeks of students protests. However, the protesting students were left dejected when told that the allocated money will not be going towards resolving the Government of India Post Matric Scholarship issue of providing fee waivers for SC, ST, OBC students of current and future batches.

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Speaking about the issue, Fahad Ahmad, General Secretary, TISS Students Union, Mumbai, said, “Those who were saying protests can’t do anything, look what we have done for the TISS administration. But we also need to understand that the release of arrears has nothing to do with our demands and the GoI Post Matric scholarship issue. Our protests have helped the TISS administration despite their continuous targeting of protesting students. Now the UGC and TISS administration should come up with a solution for which the students are fighting.”

In spite of continuous demands by the students, the TISS administration has not furnished any data to the students regarding what is the exact amount needed to facilitate scholarships and waivers for GoI post matric scholars.

The student delegates have demanded from the UGC that the non-salaried maintenance grant is increased. Also, one of the main demands made by the students’ body to the UGC is that the UGC should come up with the component under the Non-Salaried Maintenance grant where funds can be allocated to resolve waivers/scholarship related issues.

Dr.Sunita Siwach, Joint Secretary, UGC, who is also a part of MHRD Committee held a meeting with students delegates from the General Body at the TISS Campus in Mumbai on Friday. A ten-member committee was formed with selected members from the General Body of the protesting students. Other committees included the GOI PMS Working Group Empowered Committee of Faculty. A meeting was also held with the Registrar and Dy. Registrar of TISS.

During the meeting, the demand charter regarding GoI PMS issue was discussed along with other issues like Non-Net Fellowship and closing down of certain centres. The student delegates have stated that the meeting with the UGC was fruitful and the students have put forward solid arguments in support of their demand charter, based on data received through RTIs filed by students.

So far the UGC disburses amount under two heads: Plan and Non Plan. Under the Plan head, funds are allocated for the salaries whereas the Non-Plan head , the institute is mandated to spend funds towards specific expenditures. Funds allocated under both these heads do not go towards any funding related to scholarships and waivers and hence the students have demanded that a separate component is also added to facilitate funds towards students scholarships/waivers. The students body also argued that the TISS should be considered at par with other 8 Central Universities since it has one of the highest NAAC gradings.

Talking about the meeting, General Secretary Ahmad stated that since its the first meeting, no concrete solutions have been been offered as yet. “But we have resolved to keep the strike going until all our demands are met by the UGC and the TISS administration,” he added. After the meeting, Ahmad also handed over the charter of demand to the Joint Secretary of the UGC.

Students in the meeting have also clarified that the burden of deficits incurred by institute shouldn’t be put on the students, especially the GoI PMS students since it’s a clear flouting of affirmative action. So far, the administration has neither clarified nor revealed the cost incurred to support GOI PMS students. The UGC has asked TISS committee, which includes faculty and student delegates, to furnish a plan of action report by March 31 for further action.