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TISS suppressing panel review report critical of institute?

English: Tata Institute Of Social Sciences

English: Tata Institute Of Social Sciences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI: An academic review committee report on the functioning of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), one of India’s most prestigious social science institutions, has yet to see the light of day, nearly a year after the committee met for the last time. There are fears that the report may be suppressed as it is believed to be critical of the institution. TISS, though, insists that it will be out soon.The committee drafting the report, which studied all four campuses of the institution__Mumbai, Tuljapur, Hyderabad and Guwhati, comprised senior academicians from reputed universities across India. “We had our last meeting in July 2014. We were paid Rs 5,000 a day while working on the report, which would work out to an average of Rs 60,000 per person over the course of the review. We were put up in five star hotels while at outstation campuses. Why did TISS spend so much on us if they don’t want to publish our report?” asks one of the committee members, speaking to TOI on the condition of anonymity.While TISS initiated the academic review committee, the committee member feels the institution may not be inclined to publish it, as many of the findings are critical of TISS.

“Ten years ago, TISS had two campuses, Mumbai and Tuljapur. Now they have four campuses. Earlier, the institution had only two schools with eight research centres. Now it has 10 schools and over 30 research centres. The expansion has been phenomenal, but has occurred too suddenly and too frequently, in the absence of adequate infrastructure. In some campuses, the library is overcrowded and students have no place to study. Often four students are crammed in a hostel room for two. In one instance, a student fell off the top of a bunk bed in the absence of railings,” says the review committee member.

The committee also dealt with funding. “TISS gets its funding from both the Tata Trust and the University Grants Commission (UGC). The rapid expansion resulted in a need for more teaching posts than UGC could sanction across campuses, with the result that many of the posts were funded by the Tata Trust with the hope that eventually UGC would sanction the posts,” says the member, who goes on to add that, as funds diminished, there was re-appropriation of funds from one head to another, with money meant for student scholarships used instead for teachers’ salaries. Reserved category students were also not getting the scholarship money allotted to them.

“We submitted a 35-page draft report in July 2014,” he added. A source close to the institution told TOI that the final copy of the report has not yet been prepared.

However, TISS director S Parasuraman told TOI the report would be out by the end of the month, and denied any attempts to squash it. “We ourselves commissioned the report so why would we want to suppress it? For each of our schools we chose the top academicians in the country for the review. The report was delayed as many of the people working on it were travelling across the world. We, too, have been asking for the report,” he said.

As for the report being critical of TISS, Parasuraman said he could not tell whether it was positive or negative as he had not seen it. “We did not ask anyone to write a glowing report for us. We wanted to know how we could better the institution. This was not a fact-finding committee but one comprising academicians who could reflect on the institution,” he said. Parasuraman said TISS was a government institution and anybody who wanted to know the status of the report could file an RTI.


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