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Space for Student Say

The row over students’ demand for removal of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) chairman Gajendra Chauhan has gone on for more than three months without any solution in sight. The students have received support from former teachers and students of FTII as well as eminent film directors such as Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Anand Patwardhan. The authorities at the information and broadcasting ministry have to share the blame with the Maharashtra government for having made the situation even more complex by taking unwarranted action against students. Some students were arrested. Some students face expulsion. They have been denied completion of their courses. The authorities perhaps made a mistake in reading politics in the student protest against Chauhan. The students had raised issues that concerned professional and artistic values and credentials. Of course, students of any institution are not given any right under law to select chairman or director or principal of their institution. But they have a right to raise issues regarding an appointee. It is not uncommon for students questioning the credentials of a principal or teacher in an institution in the country and asking for his replacement. The government of India has made it a political issue. It is not a leftist-rightist or secularist-nationalist fight. It is a simple question of providing space for students’ say in how the credentials of their institution can remain beyond question.

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