Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a central government funded institute in the outskirts of South Mumbai, is aspiring to be JNU of Mumbai. A central government university for social sciences like JNU, it has been the epicentre of leftist and anti-national events organized in the city since last few decades, especially after the Modi government came to power.
Established in 1936 as Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the institute was renamed as Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in 1944, and in 1964, the Government of India granted it Deemed University status, and now the institute receives funding from Union HRD Ministry as well as from Tata trusts. It has established centres in many other Indian cities including Hyderabad and Guwahati.
Since Modi government came to power, the political activities at TISS have been in sync with that of JNU, and the statements by TISS students union echo the voice of JNUSU. It can be called the poorer cousin of JNU in terms academic output, number of students, political activities, and importance given by media; just like Delhi is considered poorer cousin of Mumbai in terms of financial activities.
Delhi has always been a hotbed of academia; bureaucracy; political activism; media activism; civil society activism. Mumbai lagged behind in this kind up activism but the elitist left liberals in Mumbai tried hard to establish what they call “intellectual” environment in the city, but, the spirit of Mumbai always made a pushback. Despite best efforts from the ‘activist classes’, Mumbai remained the poorer cousin of Delhi in these activities, and so remains the educational institutes of the city.
The students at TISS are trying hard to come on par with JNU in terms of activism. The latest example of this is the kind of slogans raised by the students of TISS, and the TISS students union’s efforts to justify them.
Kris Chudawala, a second-year Master of Arts (Media and Culture Studies) at TISS, and 50 others raised slogans like “Sharjeel Tere Sapnon ko Hum Manzil tak Pahunchayenge” during “Queer Azadi” rally in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan.
Sharzeel Imam, recently, vowed to breakaway the Northeastern part of India. This is clear cut case of threatening the unity of the country, and by saying “We will make India of your dreams”, the students of TISS indulged in sedition.
The Mumbai Police registered FIR under section 124 A, 153 B, 505, 34 of IPC. Section 124A is for sedition. Mother of Kris said that, someone has instigated Kris, otherwise she would never indulge in such activities. “Whatever police asked, I have informed them. We are also worried about Kris. Someone has instigated Kris. Kris is a bright student. Yes, whatever happened was wrong. We want Kris to come as soon as possible,” said her mother.
After Kris’s arrest, the TISS student union released and statement, “vehemently condemning” the statement, and called sedition, and outdated colonial law “being used against minorities, human rights defenders, civil rights activists, and other dissenters as a political tool”.
Kris’ lawyer Vijay Hiremath, said “Kris is 22 years old and identifies as a transgender, sexual minority. The slogan mentioned in the FIR ‘Sarjeel tere sapno ko him manzil tak pochayenge’” and asked for her pre-arrest bail; which the court rejected and termed her offence as “serious” in nature.
Mumbai BJP leader Kirit Somaiya called TISS students union an Urban Naxalite radical leftist union, and said that TISS is behind all the anti-national activities in Mumbai in last few days. “The anti-CAA-protest and sloganeering that happened during the LGBTQ parade at Azad Maidan or the free Kashmir sloganeering and agitation done at Gateway of India or the protest inside the Wankhede stadium where India and Australia were playing and some people stood with banners against CAA and at various other places where protests were held in support of Shaheen Bagh… TISS union was behind it all…I have evidence of this and I will approach the Mumbai Police with all the evidence,” said Somaiya in a video statement.
It is evident that, TISS students union is copying the acts of JNU students union and they are sort of poorer cousin of JNU. The anti-national activities carried out in Mumbai goes against the spirit of the city and the state, where even Congress take highly nationalist stand. Unlike Delhi, where the political activism is in the air, Mumbai has been very entrepreneurial, law abiding, and materialistic city. The attempts to make Mumbai like Delhi are, obviously, bound to fail.