TISS students enraged against 'bigoted, racist, sexist, islamophobic' new registrar

Col. RM Joshi, the new registrar has several controversial posts on social media.

Credit : Indie Journal

‘Blatantly bigoted, sexist, Islamophobic and intolerant of students' dissent’ - This is how the Progressive Students’ Forum (PSF), a student community of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has described the opinions and remarks of the Institute’s newly appointed registrar. The Forum, on Sunday, wrote an open letter to the Chairman of the Governing Board of TISS, opposing the appointment of the new registrar Col. RM Joshi, pointing towards his bigoted views, shared by him on social media.

“It is of great concern and anguish to the student community that such a person has been appointed to the highest administrative position in an institution such as TISS, whose opinions reveal an openly sycophantic attitude towards the ruling dispensation,” stated the campaign statement by the PSF-TISS circulated amongst the students' community and others. The open letter has several social media posts by the new registrar attached, which shows his "propaganda of demonising of people of the Muslim community", "vilification of protesting students in various eminent central universities of the country", "misogynistic language and deep-rooted patriarchy with the usage and labelling of women as ‘PRESSTITUTES’", etc., as quoted in the letter.

“Even if there must be problems with appointing people of the ruling party ideology, appointing a troll is more disgraceful. I can name several people like that, who would be a better choice. It’s about having the basic decency, and from his social media posts, the newly appointed registrar seems to be posting like a troll,” said a student member of the PSF-TISS.

He also added that when a biased person like that takes up an administrative position in any institute, it is bound to have an adverse effect on the students and the overall functioning of the organisation. “People in the administrations are the ones who make and enforce different rules and regulations for the institute. If they are prejudiced, it will not only affect the freedom of expression, it might also affect the administrative processes like admissions, scholarships, etc., which would not be conducive for the overall welfare of the students on champs,” the student said.

Emphasising on the unapologetic stance of the Institution on upholding the constitutional principles, an excerpt from the letter read, ‘The Registrar is a person who is responsible for taking decisions on important questions, many of which may be contentious, in an unbiased and democratic manner. The campus is not a military battlefield where only one side survives and the other perishes. It is a space for democratic dialogue and a meeting point of opposing views. The very future of this space is a fundamental question we all are facing in the contemporary national situation. Hence, it is the duty of all of us to ensure that this space for dialogue is protected and nourished.”

While the open letter has been published on Sunday, the students have not yet received any response from the authorities. “We expected that we would not be getting a reply. That was one of the reasons why we posted an open letter, instead of emailing it to the chairperson. We are still contemplating over what should be our next move, but we will continue to raise our voices against this,” Potdar told Indie Journal.

A few years ago, in 2015, a similar opposition had erupted at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, when actor-turned-politician Gajendra Chauhan was appointed as the Chairperson of FTII Governing Council. “This is happening everywhere, at a number of universities across the country,” added the student community memeber.

Indie Journal has attempted to reach out to TISS management but has been unable to reach them. The story will be updated on receipt of any clarification from TISS.

Changes have been made to correct the misunderstanding that the report was referring to the official student union at TISS and no 'a' student union.