Once a peaceful university, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which has always maintained a special character, is under organized attacks from last few years. The attacks on the very idea of a university the way an insensitive administration backed by a potentially authoritarian regime seems determined to destroy the transparent decision-making process, as the JNU Teacher Association and students allege.
The JNU administration has steadily harassed the faculty and students under the undue political interference which further degenerated the educational scenario. And that’s why JNU faculty and students have been continuously in protest mode.
A few days ago, after a hunger strike, the JNU teachers decided to further strengthen their voice against the legitimacy of the vice-chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar. An overwhelming majority of teachers expressed their lack of trust in the present vice-chancellor Mamidala’s leadership. In a referendum, 93% voted against the VC’s regime showing their dissatisfaction in the administration .
From denying students permission to submit their Ph.D. theses, making 75% attendance compulsory for MPhil and Ph.D. students, to now biometric attendance for teachers, the academic community in JNU has many reasons to dismiss the VC’s leadership. The JNU’s VC has lost his own institution’s trust.
A university is considered a place of higher education and research, and the notion of academic freedom. Here teachers and students interact and engage with each other, debate and dissent, exploring innovative ideas. The head of the university carries the responsibility of creating an atmosphere where teachers can focus on teaching and students can study without the fear of persecution and harassment. While it appears that the vice chancellor Mamidala, has been doing the very opposite since his appointment.
The JNU administration has demonstrated a disregard for democratic procedures and well-established conventions that is toxic to every aspect of the university.
- An attack on the admission process (from reducing numbers of students admitted, manipulating the Constitutionally mandated affirmative action policies, or replacing excellent systems of entrance-tests designed to gauge research potential with online ‘multiple choice questions’ pattern);
- Drastically minimizing funds to the university’s library;
- Reducing discussions in the statutory academic bodies of the university, like the Committees for Advanced Study and Research, Board of Studies and the Academic Council;
- A steady interference in the institutional matters, like the appointments of deans and the recruitment process.
Space and freedom to teach, study, research and write in peace – the root essences of the university life – have all been brutally jeopardized by such administrative vandalism.
In solidarity with the varsity’s teachers’ association, 49 lawmakers from different parties have expressed concerns over the “state of affairs” at the Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU, and wrote to Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar demanding removal of the varsity’s vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar and also requested for an inquiry against him.
In the letter, an urgent intervention of the HRD minister is requested to save JNU a public university from being vandalized by its present vice-chancellor. Both nationally and internationally, JNU has acquired excellence in research and teaching. Further, in the letter, the lawmakers have demanded for an inquiry to be instituted against the VC’s misgovernance. The letter also demanded to remove the VC Professor M. Jagadesh Kumar from the post of vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University in case of pending inquiry.