JNU Executive Council passes contentious admission criteria
Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar pushes through controversial provisions such as admissions criteria opposed by students and most faculty members
The Jawaharlal Nehru University row just got further aggravated. Amid protest from all quarters, Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar pushed through many controversial provisions at the university’s Executive Council meeting on Tuesday.
“The EC successfully completed its meeting and approved key agenda items, including UGC regulations of May 5, 2016,” said VC Kumar after the meeting.
One such contentious issue, which the students and most faculty members were vehemently opposing, was the giving of full weightage to oral interviews or 'viva-voce' as the main criteria for admissions to M Phil and Ph.D courses, with written exams just considered for ‘qualifying’ purposes only.
The students and faculty members were peeved. “The entire agenda that was fraudulently pushed through by the VC at the Academic Council, was again passed by the Executive Council meeting today,” they said, under condition of anonymity.
“We have been betrayed. Now, the only option before us is perhaps to take the legal route,” said another faculty member.
The VC and Registrar Pramod Kumar have had an uneasy relationship with the students and a majority of the faculty since Kumar’s appointment in January 2016. There have been many points of friction; and chief among them was the topic of contention was on the admission criteria for MPhil and PhD courses
The VC and Registrar Pramod Kumar have had an uneasy relationship with the students and a majority of the faculty since Kumar’s appointment in January 2016. There have been many points of friction; and chief among them was the topic of contention was on the admission criteria for MPhil and PhD courses.
The earlier parameter was that the written entrance test would have a weightage of 70% of the marks with the viva-voce the remaining 30%. However, as per a new University Grants Commission (UGC) guideline of May 5, 2016 the final admission would be determined fully by the viva-voce, after a written test. Most students from the deprived and marginalised sections felt that the new guideline was biased against them, and sought that the viva-voce weightage be, instead, reduced to 15%.
On December 26, JNU’s Academic Council had held its second meeting, which was conducted by the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar. However, the VC is said to have not allowed any discussion at all on the important issues in the agenda, misrepresented and distorted facts, and fraudulently declared the minutes of the previous meeting passed.
STUDENTS PLAN TO SUE VC, REGISTRAR
While the December 26 meeting was going on, some 50 students were said to have walked in and raised slogans. While the administration accused the students of disruption and physical violence and suspended 10 students the next day; the latter claimed that the door was actually open and they had intervened only when the VC was leaving at the end of the meeting, a claim corroborated by several members of the Academic Council.
Most of the suspended students alleged that they were victimised only because of their marginal and backward background, and were contemplating legal action against the VC and the Registrar.
“We are considering the possibility of knocking at the courts for justice, and challenge the suspension. We plan to have a meeting soon and a collective decision will then be taken,” said Mritunjay Kumar, an M.Sc student and a National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) activist, who is among those suspended.
“Most of the students suspended by the VC are from the marginal and backward communities, which makes the bias factor obvious,” said a student activist. Student activists told National Herald that a case under The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was also being considered and a lawyer being consulted on this.
Most of the suspended students alleged that they were victimised only because of their marginal and backward background, and were contemplating legal action against the VC and the Registrar
On Tuesday, as the JNU’s Executive Council meeting was going on, there were two separate protests against the VC and the Registrar—demanding that the suspension be revoked, the ongoing meeting be scrapped and the Academic Council meeting be reconvened. One was led by the JNU Student’s Union including the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Students' Federation of India (SFI); they were also joined by the JNUTA (JNU Teachers’ Association). The other parallel protest was by student activists associated with Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), OBC Forum and NSUI.
Earlier, in a statement signed by retired faculty members of JNU that included names such as Tanika Sarkar, Romila Thapar, Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, KN Panikkar, Utsa Patnaik and Abhijit Sen expressed dismay at the current state of affairs. They pointed out that the students in JNU always had the freedom “to question what appears unjust and immoral and to base their views on sound reasoning and analysis.” They condemned the “unacceptably arrogant conduct” of the university administration, which had “a supreme contempt for the dignity and freedom of the faculty and students.” They had urged the Executive Council to intervene in the matter to ensure that the university’s smooth functioning was not disrupted so that it continued to maintain its excellent academic standards. However, that seems to be a distant wish at the moment.
- Vice Chancellor
- Jawaharlal Nehru University
- Academic Council
- M Jagadesh Kumar
- Pramod Kumar
- Mritunjay Kumar
- National Students’ Union of India
- Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
- Executive Council
- JNU Student’s Union
- All India Students’ Association
- Students' Federation of India
- JNU Teachers’ Association
- Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association
- OBC Forum
- University Grants Commission
- retired faculty members
- Tanika Sarkar
- Romila Thapar
- Sabyasachi Bhattacharya
- KN Panikkar
- Utsa Patnaik
- Abhijit Sen