Collective resistance amidst attempts to subdue JNU laid bare in JNUTA report

Their statement underscores that, despite a year and a half since the VC's departure, the university's wounds from its decline remain untreated

JNU campus (Photo: National Herald archives)
JNU campus (Photo: National Herald archives)


The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) said on Friday, 22 September, that despite all attempts to subdue them with strong-arm tactics, victimisation and harassment through the rampant misuse of powers, the teachers, students and staff of the JNU put up a collective resistance in response to the attacks on the University. 

JNUTA released a report on Friday, 22 September, which said that there was also a slew of decisions of the honourable courts that deemed several decisions and actions of the University administration as illegal.

These were the two countervailing factors which slowed down what was nothing but a process of destruction of a national asset, a public university whose history epitomised both the possibilities and the necessity of combining excellence and equity, in order that the institution serve the objective of contributing to India's social progress, it said.

It said that over a year-and-a-half after the departure from JNU of the VC who was its chief instrument, the wounds inflicted by that unprecedented brutal assault on the institution continue to fester. Barring the odd exception, there are few signs of these receiving even palliative, let alone curative, treatment.

"At the same time, new injuries continue to be inflicted on the institution's body politic - it is being subjected to a process of death by a thousand cuts. JNU is not on the road to recovery. It instead continues to be sapped of the vital energies that made it a remarkable institution enjoying such great prestige across the country and the world. This is the essence of the state of affairs in the University, some details of which are set out in the remaining part of the report," JNUTA said.  

The JNUTA report said that centralised model of university governance that was put in place after 2016, and effectively disenfranchised the faculty, had several building blocks. One of the most important of these was the discarding of the long standing, and non-discretionary, system of rotation by order of seniority in the appointment of chairpersons and deans, it said. 

"This weakened the structural basis for collegial functioning of the Centres and Schools and the role of the faculty committees in decision-making. It similarly eroded the representation and reflection of faculty opinions in statutory bodies like the Academic and Executive Councils, where Deans and Chairpersons are ex-officio members and make up a substantial part of the membership. The practice of discretionary appointments of Chairpersons and Deans, rather than following rotation by order of seniority, continues to be operational," the report said.

"This report provided a snapshot of the severe crisis afflicting JNU. There are innumerable issues in addition to those highlighted here which could be added to the list of the symptoms or reflections of this crisis. There are many others on the cards, those that will come in the name of implementation of NEP 2020," JNUTA said.

"The only option before JNU teachers, if they are to remain true to their responsibilities, is to consistently resist this process of destruction of a university, a public asset over which no administration and no government can claim ownership. As part of that endeavour, we release this report with the objective of informing those to whom the institution ultimately belongs - the public," JNUTA said.

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