"Complete your education and then get involved in politics." This is the farewell message of Chairman Gajendra Chauhan for the students of FTII.
Gajendra Chauhan, popularly known as Yudhishthira, is set to take an exit from the Mahabharata of FTII. The controversial chairman's tenure ended on Friday. He served a tenure of 1 year 3 months out of the 3 years, as no one was appointed for the first one and a half year. Chauhan did not get an extension despite serving for a short term.
"I have done what I could do in the small time that got. I am satisfied," Chauhan said, adding, "I got a tenure of one and a half year. I have tried to address the key concerns. FTII had a zero year for two consecutive years. This year we made sure that the previous batches completed their diplomas and we conducted the admission process for the new batch. We constituted the revised syllabus, bought new equipments, addresed the discipline issues, made 75% attendance compulsory. The construction plan of new studios is principally approved. I think this is more than enough for the small tenure I could serve."
Gajendra Chauhan was appointed as the chairman on 9 June 2015. Students opposed this move claiming that he was not fit for the job and landed up getting the position for being a BJP leader. Students went on an indefinite strike to oppose his appointment.
This strike ended after 139 days. Chauhan visited the institute and assumed the charge amidst the opposition from the students. This was they only time he visited the institute. Due to the flak he faced all the governing council meetings were conducted in Mumbai.
"When the debate over his capability going on he kept saying that the previous directors didn't have time to visit the institute as they were busy with their work. He would be able to do justice to the post by dedicating time. Was this what he meant?" asked a student who was a part of the strike.
Chauhan claims that he resolved many issues that the students were facing and helped them complete their long pending diplomas. But students have a different version.
"We had to battle everyday even for completing a diploma film" said Yashsvi, an ex-student of FTII who was actively involved in the strike. Student Ajayan Adats's story proved the students claims right. His diploma film was sent to Roterdam film festival only to be told that it cannot be an official entry as it was produced by FTII and he didn't seek an official permission. But this decision was later retracted and the film won the best film award.
Another issue for the students was cancellation of their scholarships. "I topped for two consecutive years but was denied the scholarship with no logical reason," one of the students said.
But according to Chauhan this was a right move. He felt that students had skipped their classes and hence did not deserve a scholarship. It was a part of the disciplinary move for him. Other moves included appointment of security personnel throughout the campus, and entry in hostel had to be recorded.
Along with these moves he also decided to keep the students out of the council meetings. "Students will be allowed. But they will have to go out if we ask them to. This will include decisions like finalising the syllabus. We cannot allow students to be the part of these meetings" Gajendra Chauhan said.
An attempt to saffronise the institute was the prime allegation since the appointment of Mr.Chauhan.
"I dont understand the meaning of the word saffronisation. For me saffronisation means sacrifice. I am ready to sacrifice for my country. And for me the country for the last 1 year was FTII," he said. Erecting a replica of Savarkar was claimed to be a part of such attempt. "Mr. Chauhan has sacrificed the institution and even then couldn't saffronise it," said a student.
During the agitation by students, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had visited FTII campus." I want to invite him again now and show what have we done" said Chauhan adding, "the kind of politics students here are involved in is the Rahul Gandhi kind of politics. They wouldn't get anything out of it. Hence I am advising them to stay away from politics till they complete their education."
"But it is this politics that gave us the power to oppose the his thoughtless decisions. If politics is bad why is he in politics?" asked Yashasvi, adding" they are just trying to govern FTII the way they are governing the country" he added.
Students are now gearing up for the appointment of new chairman. This one and a half year has united and has created a strong bond they say. "That doesn't mean we have grudges against anyone. We will wait and watch" said Nachimutthu, a student at FTII and the head of the students union.
The Chairman stepping down would mean the entire governing council will be dissolved. It will have to be reconstituted. Students are definitely keeping a close watch on the developments.
Updated Date: Mar 07, 2017 11:26 AM