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FTII row: I&B ministry comes up with two compromise formulas, cuts no ice with students

New Delhi,Amrita Nayak Dutta: The ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) on Thursday came out with two compromise formula for the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), amid the months-long standoff between the two over ‘contentious’ appointments like that of Gajendra Chauhan and five others to the FTII society.

One of them was the FTII society’s decision in Pune to appoint CID-famed BP Singh as the chairman of the institute’s academic council as well as the vice-chairman of the society. Singh is an alumnus of FTII. This is the first time the institute’s academic council would have a different head than that of the governing council.

The other negotiating idea thrown at the students was to leave out other controversial appointments of members with alleged BJP affiliation such as Rahul Solapurkar, Anagha Ghaisas and Sailesh Gupta of the institute’s governor council.
However, Narendra Pathak –whose appointment the students had vehemently objected to –was nominated as governing council member. Pathak –a former AVBP chief – has been the editor of a Marathi magazine for 14 years. He was appointed in the category of ‘persons with eminence’.
Sources from the I&B ministry pegged the move as ‘curtailing’ of Chauhan’s power. A senior I&B ministry official said during negotiations, student representatives had at times questioned Chauhan’s capabilities to act as the chief of the academic council.
“With Singh heading the FTII academic Council, such issues won’t arise. He studied film making at FTII and is a veteran. It will solve many of the concerns raised by the students,” the official said.
The students, however, were hardly impressed by the ministry’s bargains, and said they won’t solve any of their concerns.
“They may have appointed BP Singh as the academic council head, but he will very much be taking the opinion of the governing council head in every decision he takes. There was no curtailing of Chauhan’s power; he took over the FTII society today and took a call on many important policy decisions of the institute,” a student of the institute said, adding that things are only going to go worse from now on at the institute.
Academic Council is the body which makes all important decisions pertaining to the academic matters of the institute. As per FTII’s constitution, Academic Council, like Governing Council and Standing Finance Committee, is headed by the FTII Society president.
Another student said that while controversial members such as Ghaisas, Gupta and Solapurkar were kept off the governing council, Pathak’s appointment is still a major problem.
“Pathak is completely anti-FTII students. He was instrumental in calling all the AVBP members to the campus today to stop us from protesting. Their presence aggravated the situation at the campus today,” the student said.
On Thursday, the Pune police rounded up about 40 student protesters using force as they staged a protest, beating drums and and shouting slogans as Chauhan over as the FTII society chairman, seven months after his appointment. During this period, students were on a 139-day strike protesting the appointments.
At the FTII society meeting today apart from Chauhan and Singh, filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, actor Satish Shah, film critic Bhawana Somaiyya, Akademi Awardee Director Urmil Thapliyal, Assamese Film actor Pranjal Saikia and others were present.
An official statement released said that B P Singh was elected as the Vice President of the FTII Society while Hirani, Singh, Saikia, Shah, Pathak and Somaiyya were nominated to the Governing Council.

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