Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, a premier film institute in the country has been under attack. Administrative processes of the institute are being meddled with and the students are being forced to be silent. To begin with, on September 23, 2019, Pune Mirror reported that the heads of various departments (HoDs) were “thrown out of the Administrative Council (AC)”.
The FTII AC was set up in 1974 after tussle between the students and the management. The move followed the report by GD Khosla Committee set up by the Union Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry recommended better representation of students and academicians in the institute’s processes.
The AC is responsible for “several major institute decisions taken, including for academic activity, syllabus, entrance examinations, fee structure, day-to-day functioning, and other infrastructural improvements”. The HoDs in the AC played a crucial role of making recommendations for appointments of various faculty members and they also made recommendations for the guests/experts to be invited for delivering lectures. With the HoDs gone, the question is, who will decide what to be taught in the institute? Who will be recruited as teachers?
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Speaking to NewsClick, a student from FTII, said that in the first AC meeting without the HoDs, it has been decided that the schedule for the film screenings for a semester be prepared in advance. As the student explained, this decision restricts students in a way that they cannot watch films whenever they choose to. They also cannot watch whichever film they want to watch, as they’d be forced to stick to a schedule.
It is important to note that in 2017, the students were stripped off their right to be a part of the AC.
In FTII, there has been a systematic onslaught on education. With the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of FTII on June 9, 2015, the film fraternity, faculty, alumna and the students at the institute had come together to protest, recognising this onslaught.
A student at the institute told NewsClick, “The role of the chairman is not at all that important. He acts both as the chairman of the AC and Governing Council (GC). On paper, yes, the chairman plays an important role; however, it is the director who ends up approving all the decisions. The academic decisions taken in the AC will have to be approved by the GC. So, as the problem with Chauhan was his academic incompetence, he was made a chairman only of the GC and a vice chairman was made to be a part of AC. The director is usually a bureaucrat appointed by the I&B Ministry. So, this is where things get murky. The ruling government would place someone who would nod in agreement with all its decisions in this position.”
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When asked whose decision it is to take the HoDs and students off the AC, the student said, “Both the chairman and the director would have taken this decision.” This is part of various changes that the administration is making to the institute, the student said. “Everything has changed now. The administration is interested in building new buildings and fencing the buildings. Apart from the fact that it is aesthetically unpleasant, these geographical changes made on campus are harming the culture of the institute. It restricts the mobility of the students. There are various restrictions being imposed on the students. For example, students can no longer access the classroom theatre whenever they want. Every department has a classroom theatre where the students can watch films of their liking. Now the students cannot get into these theatres after the class hours.”
“This is the conspiracy of the administration: not to let the students learn,” said an enraged student.
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