FTII fee hike: 2 more join hunger strike; students seek I&B intervention

Topics FTII | i&b ministry

A graffiti by the protesting students of FTII Photo Credit: From The Fight Club Blog
As the hunger strike by a group of FTII students over the fee hike by the acting institute entered the fourth day on Thursday, their association demanded immediate intervention of Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar to resolve the issue.

Four Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) student leaders - Aadhith V Sathwin, Vivek Allaka, Rajarshi Mujumdar and P R Manikandan - are on a hunger strike since Monday to protest the 10 per cent yearly fee hike and also the "exorbitant" entrance exam charge, and demanding a roll-back.

The FTII Students Association (FSA), in a statement here, said two more students joined the indefinite hunger strike on Thursday "in response to the authorities turning a blind eye towards their concerns".

It expressed concern over the failing health of the agitating students and demanded Javadekar's intervention on the issue of tuition and entrance exam fees hike.

The administration of city-based FTII, an academic institute under the I&B ministry, has convened a special meeting of the Governing Council, its top decision-making body, on December 27 in New Delhi to discuss the fee hike issue and the student agitation.

However, the FSA said the acting school management is ignoring the risk to life of the students who are on hunger strike and called for early meeting of the council.

"The administration and the (I&B) ministry are simply ignoring the fact that the lives of these students on hunger strike are at grave risk.

"Convening the Governing Council meeting after eight more days is clearly an attempt from the ministrys end to delay the process (of resolving the fee hike issue)," the statement said.

"There has been a 10 per cent hike in academic fees year-on-year since the batch of 2013.

"From the annual fee of Rs 55,380 for the 2013 batch, the fee for the upcoming 2020 batch has reached Rs 1,18,323," said one of the students sitting on the hunger strike on Monday.

He had said in addition to this, there has been an "exorbitant" rise in the JET (Joint Entrance Test for both FTII and Kolkata-based Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute or SRFTI) application fee.

"From Rs 1,500 in 2015, the entrance exam fee has gone up to a maximum of Rs 10,000 for JET 2020. The exorbitant hike in the entrance fee shows that the institute is making itself inaccessible to a large section of aspirants," he had said.

Students have decided to continue their hunger strike till their demands for reduction in JET 2020 exam charge and overall tuition fee are met, the FSA statement said.

Taking into consideration the failing health of the students on hunger strike, the council's meeting should be convened earlier than proposed, it said.

The meeting should be held within the FTII campus and must involve representatives of the student community, the statement added.

Meanwhile, around 400 FTII alumni, many of them eminent film personalities, have signed a petition condemning the JET fee hike and urging the ministry to reduce it.

They have sought urgent attention to the issue of the hunger strike at the FTII and the SRFTI, which also comes under the I&B ministry. 

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