FTII students have been on a strike for close to three weeks now. They explain why an institution that produces artistes who will possibly shape the way we perceive the world, must have inspirational administrators and teachers.
The protests against television actor Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as the chairperson of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India show no signs of dying down. Fifteen days after the agitation started, students of the Pune institute are continuing to strike class and organise demonstrations. They claim that Chauhan’s appointment, along with four other members to the FTII Society are a design to change the identity and ethos of the film school.
FTII started in 1960, today offers post graduate diploma courses – Direction, Editing, Screenplay Writing, Acting, Cinematography, Sound recording and Art Direction. Currently there are 272 students on campus as 2014 was declared a zero year I.e. no students were admitted as backlogs had to be cleared. FTII is still the preferred destination for those wanting to study cinema as admission is through an entrance exam and course fees are subsidised by the government.
The Institute has been accorded the status of Institute of National Importance by the government of India but during the 2015 Union Budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that FTII was to be made a Centre of National Excellence. This would have allowed the institute to be governed by UGC norms – pay scales of lecturers would be revised to reflect industry standards. There has been no movement on this front till date as has been the case with other promises made by the ministry after suggestions by various committees over the years. The students at FTII on strike, have included the fulfilment of these promises in their list of demands.