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'Diverse' Student Council Elected at TISS Mumbai, Vows to Tackle Hyderabad Hostel Issue

The 2019 student body election of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has brought to power a diverse group of students who are all set to tackle the hostel fee hike, non-transparent hostel tender allocation of Hyderabad campus after the oath-taking ceremony today.

Simantini Dey | News18.com

Updated:August 1, 2019, 5:25 PM IST
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'Diverse' Student Council Elected at TISS Mumbai, Vows to Tackle Hyderabad Hostel Issue
A file photo of the TISS campus.

Mumbai: The 2019 student body election of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has brought to power a diverse group of students who will take oath as office bearers on Thursday.

During the elections, the 'issues' of Hyderabad campus were raised often, and now, as the elected student council representatives, they plan to tackle the hostel fee hike and “non-transparent” hostel tender allocation of the campus that not only provoked many students to go on hunger strike but also forced the management to shut down the campus for a brief period.

"Within 7 days of taking the oath, we have to have a general body meeting. In that meeting, we will discuss how to take this matter forward,” said Bhatta Ram, the newly elected student council President of TISS Mumbai.

This year's student body has members from diverse backgrounds. Bhatta Ram hails from a Dalit family and grew up in a village in Rajasthan. He is said to have led the agitation in support of 70 Dalit families who fought against caste-based atrocities in Kaludi village in Barmer, Rajasthan.

The general secretary, Aisha Abdul Kader, is from Kerela, and Tawnsuanlal Valte is from the North East. Bhatta Ram said what is more important than diverse people being elected is all of them working together towards common goals.

"I believe everyone is being represented in this student council. I come from a small Rajasthan village, and belong to a Dalit family. I have faced caste-based discrimination in society, and I have representation in this student council. TISS has always been inclusive of all communities and sections. So yes, there is fair representation in the student council, but more importantly, what matters is everyone in the council work in unison," said the student president.

Kartik Kamal Saikia, another member of the student council who hails from Assam, said, "As the Cultural Secretary, my main aim is to celebrate cultures beyond boundaries. TISS is an institute where students come from various regional, religious, and social backgrounds, and it is our purpose that we move beyond these backgrounds, as well as margins drawn on the basis of class, caste, gender, ethnicity and show mutual respect to each other. With respect for all cultures, we also want to promote representation of diverse sections, which in turn will uphold the culture of resistance. Resistance is being curbed in all other institutions across India, but we want everyone's voices, especially those people's voices who don't get platforms in the mainstream, to be heard."

Talking about the main agenda that the Student Council will have to tackle, Bhatta Ram said, "There are few problems in the Mumbai campus as well, the quality of dining hall food, certain issues in the hostel, we will obviously try to resolve them. But, more importantly, we also want to pay attention to issues that do not feature in mainstream discussions. Through group discussions with the students, we would like to know about those problems and then formulate our agenda and work on them together."

The General Secretary, Aisha Abdul Kader said that the newly elected student body is in touch with students of the Hyderabad campus, and they are tracking the court hearings closely.

"In Hyderabad, the campus was changed recently, and students were asked to shift to another hostel, which is owned by an individual who is not associated with TISS. The hostel fees that he charged was huge...almost double of what the students paid for the previous hostel. He also evicted girls who couldn't pay the fees... In fact, there is still no clarity about how this person was given the hostel tender... We are still trying to figure out a way to deal with these problems, and the students there have our support," said Aisha.

The hostel fee hike at Hyderabad campus impacted many students badly, especially those with government’s Post Matric Scholarship, and ST, SC and OBC students who are dependent on financial aid to pay the fees.

There had been several protests at the Hyderabad campus of TISS, also a hunger strike by some students after this new hostel and mess fee structure was implemented. As matters escalated, the campus was also closed down Sine Die briefly. Classes, however, resumed on 25 July.

The other elected members of the student council are Treasurer Maitreyee Misra, Literary Secretary Nikita Pathak, and Sports Secretary Anurag Shankar. Apart from them, Equal Opportunity Cell Representative is Ambadi B, ST/SC Cell Representative is Cornelius Iswary, Cyber Secretary are Vinay Ramchandra Yadav and Shrutam Shailesh Jani and Women and Gender Development Cell Representatives are Nikita Tushar Patil and Deachen Angmo.

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| Edited by: Simantini Dey
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