FTII row: Students' meeting with govt was an icebreaker, but the strike will continue

The much-awaited meeting between the government and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students in Mumbai on Tuesday remained inconclusive with neither side willing to yield ground. As expected, the government refused to accept the main demand of the students: replacement of FTII chairperson Gajendra Chauhan.

Debobrat Ghose September 29, 2015 21:25:45 IST
FTII row: Students' meeting with govt was an icebreaker, but the strike will continue

New Delhi: The much-awaited meeting between the government and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students in Mumbai on Tuesday remained inconclusive with neither side willing to yield ground. As expected, the government refused to accept the main demand of the students: replacement of FTII chairperson Gajendra Chauhan.

According to sources, the first 15 minutes of the meeting was “quite tense” but gradually both the officials and the students opened up for a “healthy discussion”. In the end it was more of an ice-breaking exercise. Both sides agreed to another round of discussion on 1 October. However, the students have decided to continue with their strike.

FTII row Students meeting with govt was an icebreaker but the strike will continue

Representational image. AFP

After the meeting, the FTII Students’ Association (FSA) president Harishankar Nachimuthu said, “The government has given no assurance and neither have the students done so. The next meeting will be on Thursday.”

The meeting that took place at the office of the Film Division in Mumbai was participated by joint secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Sanjay Murthy and one official each from the Film Division and the I&B ministry. From students’ side, besides the FSA president, six students’ representatives and the director and registrar of the FTII were present.

“It was a healthy discussion with the students’ body and the officials have taken note of the demands of the students. It’ll be discussed with the government and we expect to break the logjam in the next meeting,” a government source told Firstpost.

Devas Dixit, a final year FTII student and member of the strike committee told Firstpost, "This is for the first time that there has been a good dialogue between the government and the students, but we couldn’t reach to any decision. In the next meeting, the mandate will be decided. The ministry officials agreed to one of our demands: giving FTII the status of a premier national institute like IIT and IIM. We’re looking forward to the next meeting, but till then our strike will continue."

Meanwhile, the students have already called off their relay hunger strike after getting an assurance from the government to have a meeting.

"The meeting ended on a vague note as the government representatives didn’t commit anything. However, a proposal has been floated to make the post of vice chairperson stronger and powerful. But, till now it’s just a proposal," a source privy to the meeting said on condition of anonymity.

At present, though the post exists, there is no vice chairperson at FTII. Usually, the chairperson can exercise his veto power in both governing council and academic council. Now, the students’ body wants that Gajendra Chauhan shouldn’t have the power to influence the academic council.

It was also decided that the three posts lying vacant after the resignation of the FTII board members, including actress Pallavi Joshi, should be filled up by fresh appointments. “It has been decided that a committee should be set up to search new members for these three vacant posts,” an FTII student added.

Prior to this, the students along with faculty members and members of the alumni association had a meeting with a government-appointed three-member panel headed by SM Khan, Registrar of Newspapers of India at the institute’s Pune campus on 21 August; but the outcome of the meeting could not be known.

Meanwhile, the students are mentally prepared to escalate their agitation, if the talk fails on 1 October.

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