The drastic reduction in the number of admissions for M.Phil and Ph.D this year in the Jawaharlal Nehru University has drawn international attention. The seat-cut in JNU, Delhi is drawing the ire of not only students but also teachers and intellectuals all over the country. With the Government, the HRD ministry, the UGC and JNU administration turning a deaf ear to the protests, some faculty members like Professor Sachidanand Sinha of the Center for the Study of Regional Development (CSRD) has voiced his frustration in a detailed post on his Facebook wall.
In the 141st meeting of the Academic Council (AC) in December 2016, huge changes were introduced overriding the objections raised. And the University administration has already started carrying out these changes. The AC was not even given an opportunity to discuss UGC notifications. Under these notifications almost 89% cut in MPhil/PhD admissions in School of Social Sciences alone has been introduced. Several pre-PhD programmes have been slashed, that too without any prior discussion or dialogue.
The University administration has advertised a certain number of vacancies in each centre and school and according to this advertisement CSRD will admit only 1 MPhil/PhD student in geography as against 64 last year.
This shocking reduction has come as a rude shock to almost 6,000 aspirants for CSRD alone and future of over one lakh applicants for the various JNU departments have been destroyed by these cuts.
Professor Sachidanand Sinha says that the University administration refuses to discuss the method through which they have advertised for only one seat for CSRD.
It is not clear how the intake figures have been determined by the administration. While one can argue that there must be some upper limit for the number of students a supervisor can have under his guidance for the sake of quality. But one can never say that smaller number of under studies would guarantee quality.
“But more than anything else the seat cut is going to have a drastic impact on the agenda of social justice that JNU admission policy addressed and implemented for over 4 decades. Regional and gender deprivations are all gone now and the total number of reserved seats have come down to less than 100 in the entire university across all centres against the AC approved intake of 740 or so including the physically challenged. This year as per the administration there would be only 6 seats for PC in the research program of the university,” Prof Sinha laments.
He has also expressed grave concern over “how the administration is bent upon destroying the system of education that nurtured critical thinking and dared ask questions. It is not about ideologies, it is about social engineering that alarms me…”
In his Facebook post Professor Sinha has appealed to all old and present students of the CSRD and JNU and academicians all over the world to speak/write for and advocate for the continuation of the JNU admission policy which has stood the test of time and “proven to be the best anywhere in the world in matters of social and economic mobility and justice.”