Textile Ministry endorsed Coimbatore college faces student protests over deteriorating conditions

A source in the management told TNM that the 77-year-old Dean Perumalsamy is related to MDMK Chief Vaiko
Textile Ministry endorsed Coimbatore college faces student protests over deteriorating conditions
Textile Ministry endorsed Coimbatore college faces student protests over deteriorating conditions
Students of the Sardar Vallabhai Patel International school of Textiles and Management (SVPISTM) in Coimbatore have launched an indefinite strike against the management. The agitation that began on Monday with the students alleging that the Dean and security guard had verbally abused three female students, has now catapulted into a larger demonstration.

15 years after the NDA Government's vision of a textile-oriented management institute in India was implemented in Coimbatore, the college has allegedly failed to provide quality education to its students. 

This is not the first time that students of this institute, established in 2002, are raising their voice against the management. The college which began under the aegis of the Ministry of Textiles, offers an MBA in Textile Management, Apparel Management and Retail Management in collaboration with the Central University. This collaboration however began only in 2016. Before this, the institute was offering Post Graduate Diplomas, which students allege was being advertised as being equivalent to MBAs.

"There are not enough qualified staff in the institute who have knowledge and a background in the textile industry," alleges Uttarakannan, a second-year Postgraduate Diploma student of the institute. "They are not able to teach us the subjects in a satisfactory manner," he adds.

One look at the college website is enough to prove their allegations are right, say students.  Of the 12-permanent staff listed, only the Director and one associate professor have experience related to textile management. "The Dean of the college, Perumalsamy has specialised in economics and he is over 70 years old. How can the college even continue to retain him?" students ask.
Director dismisses students' charges

But his qualifications are not the only grouse students have against him. "He constantly abuses students who demand for what is their right," says Uthara Kannan. "A female student complained about the food we are getting in the mess sometime back. Instead of trying to solve the problem, he abused and sent her away. This is what triggered off the protests again," he claims. Then why has no action been taken against the Dean if he has subjected students to a steady stream of insults?

"He joined the institute three years back. The buzz is that the Dean is related to MDMK chief Vaiko and nobody knows how or why he was appointed," a person in the management claims. 

The Director of SVPISTM, Dr.Rameshkumar, however dismisses these charges. "The Dean is just a bit strict and so the students are saying this," he laughs. "They must have not understood his Tamil slang because they are north Indians. He has been instrumental in streamlining the curriculum and improving the infrastructure," he adds. As far as the qualification of the staff is concerned, the Director claims some 3 of the permanent staff have worked in the textile industry.
A textile professional formally associated with the institute told TNM that the staff who were hired in 2003 had been highly qualified and hand-picked by a group of IAS officers. "It was started by the Vajpayee Government with a great vision but soon private interests began to interfere. All employment was on a contractual basis. But in the last few years contracts were being terminated arbitrarily and professors were hired on contacts. Following this, everyone who had experience in the textile industry quit. We have complained multiple times to the Textile Ministry and to authorities in the Central Government. But no action has been taken. Every year students continue to be fooled," he claims. 

Promises of Campus Placement

Students who were lured with promises of managerial positions in Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons, Jay Jay mills and other renowned brands are only getting recruited for a maximum salary of only Rs. 12,000 by local textile companies.

"We pay close to Rs.2 lakh as fees for two years. The big companies that they had claimed will come for recruitment such as Jay Jay mills didn't come and other companies that hire us have a starting salary of Rs.6000" says Uttara Kannan. "Even a labourer in the Tirupur region gets close to Rs.8000 a month. Is that all we deserve with a post-graduation diploma?” he asks angrily.
The management however dismissed the charge. The Director told TNM that salaries offered to students range from Rs.15,000 to Rs.45,000.

Students claim to have even raised this issue with Textile Minister Smriti Irani in November 2016, when she visited the campus. "The Union Minister had said that she will immediately take action but four months down the line, there has been no action against the management," says Uttara.

A member of the management however claims the Minister issued a verbal warning to the staff, "She said that she was also a woman and will not tolerate such behavior from the management," he reveals.

 With this academic year however coming to a close, students have a bigger problem to deal with. "The last batch of PGDM students will pass out this year," says a member of the management. "The institute is now offering only MBA and BSc degrees. But we don't have the required labs, qualified faculty or hostel facilities to accommodate BSc students. But no one questions the institute," he says

When TNM confronted the Director with this charge, he claimed that the institute had the necessary facilities for the first two semesters. "We will see how it goes and then invest in more infrastructure if necessary," he explains.

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