Over the last 82 years of its existence, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has not only helmed landmark changes in our social and academic framework, but has been a flag bearer in upholding country-wide and international integration in the truest sense of the term. Having been in TISS for the last four years, I can vouch for the fact that the kind of cultural heterogeneity and exposure that one can find in this campus, coupled with a sensitivity and respect for the deeper nuances of social interactions, cannot be found anywhere else. Not only does this campus encourage a wide range of diversity in terms of nearly fifty masters courses in the Mumbai campus alone, but the students at TISS also come from all the parts of the country (and the world), as well as different walks of life! The TISS campus is known to be one of the most liberal campuses in the country, and you can feel freedom in the air of its Deonar Campus. An engineer, a doctor; a teacher, a lawyer; a parent and a fresh graduate: all of them could be classmates in the same course! The HRM&LR batch is one such example of how there are coexistence and camaraderie amongst students coming from diverse standpoints, experiences and skill sets.
Diversity thrives in TISS and is embraced by all students. Festivals from across the country are celebrated with equal vigour, with payasam, pongal, sewai, sondesh, plum cake or modak doing rounds of the campus. The real respect for diversity, however, is seen in the day to day functioning of the college. Right from the atmosphere of the college, to its policies, its infrastructure and pedagogy, all of it is designed in a way that respects diversity and encourages inclusion and integration. There are proper provisions for easy mobility of the differently abled, and the TISS Library is known for its state of the art provisions for enabling easy access to literature for them as well. If one watches or reads the oldest alumni experiences, one thing comes across as a constant: the emphasis that TISS ethos has put on respecting diversity. TISSians over the years fondly remembers the cultural vibrancy that the campus and its people exude, and this sensitivity and awareness is what has made them better people in their personal and professional lives.
The beauty of TISS is in the fact it practices what it preaches. It challenges students to recognise their ingrained prejudices and stereotypes, makes us question it, and breaks the mould of years of questionable socio-political-economic socialisation that we undergo throughout our most fundamental years.
What makes TISS different from the rest is that we are taught to fearlessly talk about things that others will not, we are taught to throw hesitation and discomfort out of the window to deliberate on issues of sexuality, gender and ethnicity among others; which becomes more so crucial as students of HR, since we will be actively dealing with issues of diversity and inclusion in the near future. In TISS, nothing is a taboo, and when we leave TISS, we aim to reflect the same in our interactions in other spheres. TISS has opened my eyes to the various possibilities that can exist within our societal framework, and has given me a platform to be a part of a range of experiences that I would not have been able to otherwise.
TISS has redefined and upheld diversity unlike any other educational institution and it is this very principle of the institute that makes it so close to my heart.
About the Author
Ishma Raina is a first-year masters student in Human Resources Management and Labour Relations at TISS Mumbai. A member of the Aspirants Relations Committee, she loves talking to new people and writing about anything and everything.