FTII students end four-month strike; filmmakers return National Awards

October 28, 2015

Students at Indias most prestigious film school agreed on Wednesday to end a four-month strike and return to classes after the failure of a final round of negotiations with the government over its controversial appointment of a new chairman.

Classes have been suspended since June at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), with students protesting the selection of Gajendra Chauhan – a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – to head the 55-year-old film school in Pune.

Later on Wednesday, several filmmakers — including Dibakar Banerjee and Anand Patwardhan — announced their decision to return their National Awards in protest against the government’s “stonewalling of the students’ protest.”

Critics see the selection of Chauhan, an actor known for little apart from his role in a 1980s TV serial based on the Mahabharata, as the latest in a string of political appointments to cultural and academic bodies.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting governs the institute. The protesting students were supported by several Bollywood stars during the strike, but the government refused to back down and withdraw Chauhan’s appointment.

A protest leader said junior minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told a student delegation this month that he didn’t have the mandate to take a decision.

“We just cannot deal with a ministry and a minister who doesn’t even have the authority to take decisions,” Vikas Urs told Reuters over telephone.

“This is in no way a defeat of our cause,” Urs said, adding that students would attend classes but would continue their protest in other ways.

Media reports quoted Chauhan as saying he welcomed the end of the strike.

As chairman, Chauhan does not handle the day-to-day running of the institute but can take decisions on curriculum and faculty.

(Editing by Tony Tharakan; Follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay and Tony @TonyTharakan. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/