Govt panel blames FTII students, faculty members for stalemate

  • Yogesh Joshi, Hindustan Times, Pune
  • Updated: Oct 03, 2015 14:33 IST
Students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) putting up placards at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. (PTI)

A government panel set up to study the situation in Pune’s Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) has squarely put the blame on the students and faculty of the premier institute for delaying projects, which escalated the situation on the campus.

The three-member panel, which was appointed by the Union information and broadcasting, has in its report said the faculty is complicit in creating an unceremonious situation at FTII by “fuelling” the students in order to be “populist”.

A copy of the report is with Hindustan Times.

The ministry had appointed the panel headed by SM Khan, registrar of Newspapers for India, to have a dialogue with the students after a police crackdown on them for gheraoing FTII director Prashant Pathrabe. The committee had visited FTII on August 21 and held discussions with various stakeholders including students, administration, faculty members and the alumni association.

FTII students have been on strike since June 12 to oppose the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairperson as well as four others. The agitating students have accused Chauhan of lacking “stature and vision” to head the institute. According to them, Chauhan was picked because of his political leanings.

The panel’s report has come out at a time when the striking studens are holding talks with ministry officials in an attempt to end the logjam. The next round has been now been rescheduled to October 7 in Mumbai.

Read: FTII students call off hunger strike, govt to hold fresh talks

The committee has observed that despite “no dearth of facility” and “special efforts to accommodate more number of shootings” students could not complete their projects on time. The committee justified the decision of the director to assess incomplete projects on “as is where is” basis who had cited a report by former director DJ Narain.

Narain’s report as well as minutes of the academic council meeting suggested that delay in project completion was because “students were not ready with the scripts.”

Despite various attempts, students did not respond to text messages and phone calls.

The committee also blamed the faculty for frequently changing their stand saying it had first agreed to assess the project but changed its stand further “aggravating the situation” and putting extraordinary pressure on the director.

“The majority of contract/external faculty, who happen to be alumni of the institute as well as some other alumni who frequently visit and stay in the campus, fuel the students without any responsibility towards orderly conduct of courses and passing out of students,” observed the committee.

Terming the incidents at the campus, which led to the lodging of an FIR by the director, as “unfortunate”, the committee noted, “If one views the recordings of these incidents, one can understand the amount of mental trauma the director of the institute would have gone through. Hence, the director was well within his rights to call the police and lodge FIRs.”

While students have been demanding the withdrawal of FIRs, the committee in its report said, “The law will take its own course.”

Reacting to the report, prominent RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said, “What has come out in the report of Khan committee clearly indicates that there is a nexus between students, alumni and external faculty for entire mess at FTII.”

The FTII has witnessed around 40 agitations in its 50 years of existence.

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