JNU VC sabotages democratic functioning of Academic Council to push through anti-social justice policies

First, here is the statement issued by 20 faculty members of the Academic Council today, about half the members present at the adjourned 142nd AC Meeting.

PRESS RELEASE BY MEMBERS OF THE JNU ACADEMIC COUNCIL

We, faculty members of the JNU Academic Council, are shocked and dismayed at the manner in which the Vice Chancellor has conducted the 142nd Academic Council meeting of December 23rd (adjourned to December 26th). This was a thinly attended meeting since it was held at short notice in the middle of the winter vacation, despite several requests for rescheduling.

The minutes of the previous (141st) Academic Council meeting that had been circulated contained many errors, misrepresentations, and falsities. Several of these had been pointed out by many members of the Academic Council, including in written representations to the Registrar.

The Registrar misled the Academic Council that no written submissions had been received and retracted only when copies of such responses were provided to him. The repeated tampering of minutes has become a serious problem that is affecting the functioning of the university and is against all procedural norms.

One of the most alarming insertions to the minutes gave the Vice Chancellor powers to manipulate the list of experts for Selection Committees sent by the Centres and Schools. This had not been approved by the previous Academic Council meeting.

However, the Vice Chancellor abruptly stopped the discussion on this item, refused to accept the removal of the wrongly inserted sentence, and declared the minutes passed.

After this, he tried to push through all the remaining agenda items without any discussion despite several objections from the floor, including by those who were not allowed to speak even once. A large number of Academic Council members stood up in protest, but the Registrar hurriedly read a part of the agenda, which no one could hear amidst the protests, and the Vice Chancellor announced that all items were passed.

After the Vice Chancellor got up to leave the meeting, a group of students entered the hall shouting slogans. This occurred after the Vice Chancellor was already near the exit.

We disapprove of the way in which opinions of many in the house were not heard and democratic norms were violated in the conduct of the 142nd Academic Council meeting by the administration led by the Vice Chancellor.

– Signed

Rekha V. Rajan, Ranjani Mazumdar, Ramila P. Bisht, Raman P Sinha, Pradeep K Shinde, Vikas Rawal, Nupur Chowdhury, Nivedita Menon, Lata Singh, Jayati Ghosh, Ishtiaque Ahmad, Hemant Adlakha, Anupama Roy, Amir Ali, Ajith Kanna, Ajoy Kumar Karnati, Ajay Kumar, Saitya Brata Das, Rajib Dasgupta, BS Butola.

Second, here is the statement issued by the Administration:

Jawaharlal Nehru University Press Release Date: 26.12.2016

The Academic Council meeting of JNU was held on 23 December 2016 and was adjourned since all the agenda items could not be discussed. The adjourned Academic Council meeting of the university concluded on 26 December 2016 and all the remaining agenda items were discussed and approved. The most significant among them was the adoption of the 5th May 2016 UGC gazette notification on admission procedures for various academic programmes and courses.

While the AC meeting was going on smoothly, a handful of faculty members tried their best to disrupt the meeting by constantly shouting at the chairperson while he was speaking. One member even ran to the chairperson by waiving a piece of paper and shouting at the Chairperson, but was urged to sit for peaceful conduct of the meeting. When members were expressing their views on various agenda items, a few members were overly rude and agitated and sought to prevent the meeting from moving forward to discuss the agenda items.

Towards the end of the AC meeting, someone from this group of members, disrupting the meeting, called in the students who were protesting outside the venue. A group of unruly students broke open the latch of the meeting room after thumping the door, came inside and began to shout slogans at the Chairperson and the Academic Council members. The meeting at this time was already over and necessary decisions had been taken by the Academic Council.

The JNU administration urges the Academic Council members, who tried to disrupt the meeting, to desist from indulging in such acts in future. Some members of the Academic Council have demanded that appropriate action should be taken against the unruly behavior of some AC members who tried to disrupt the proceedings. Many members also have urged the Vice Chancellor to take immediate disciplinary action against a group of students barging into the venue and creating pandemonium. (Registrar).

It should be clear from the 20 endorsements on our statement that far from a “handful”, about half of the members present were objecting to the blatant abuse of power by the VC.

Second, the faculty member “waiving” (sic) the piece of paper was in fact drawing attention to the written submission the Registrar claimed not to have received, which was in fact already tabled in the first part of this AC meeting on Friday 23rd. This was what he had to concede eventually.

Third, the AC meeting did not go on “smoothly” from the very first moment, because the VC tried to say that the Minutes of the previous AC meeting had been confirmed because no written submissions had been received. So the protests had immediately begun.

Fourth and most importantly, the Adminstration’s statement claims that this 142nd AC meeting adopted “the 5th May 2016 UGC gazette notification on admission procedures for various academic programmes and courses.”

This UGC Gazette is extremely problematic, but I will come to it in a moment. The point here is to say that this Gazette was not in fact discussed in this AC meeting. It was noted in the Minutes of the last AC meeting (the 141st AC held in May 2016) as passed, but the minutes needed to be approved at this 142nd AC meeting before the UGC Gazette can be deemed to have been “adopted” by JNU. But as we have noted, the Minutes were not permitted to be discussed at all.

Most members present at the last AC (141st) in fact say that the UGC Gazette was not discussed. So its appearance in the Minutes of the 141st AC may be another instance of manipulation of Minutes.

The facts are these. At the beginning of the AC meeting on Friday 23rd, the JNUTA representative had alerted the AC to the fact that we needed to reopen the question of the UGC Gazette, and that the university should write to UGC for clarifications before we adopted it, as it is extremely anti-student and also runs counter to constitutionally guaranteed social justice policies. The VC had agreed at that point that JNU should write to UGC for clarifications, but this point was to have been addressed in the adjourned meeting today. However, we never got the opportunity to reopen the question because the VC declared the minutes as approved overriding all our protests.

What is the UGC Gazette Notification of May 2016?

The relevant point is that while laying down the procedure of admission to M.Phil/Ph.D programmes, it sets out a two stage process:

Higher Education Instituions shall admit candidates by a two stage process through:
* An Entrance Test shall be qualifying with qualifying marks as 50%. The syllabus of the Entrance Test shall consist of 50% of research methodology and 50% shall be subject specific and
* An interview/viva-voce to be organized by the HEI as mentioned in clause 1.2 when the candidates are required to discuss their research interest/area through a presentation before a duly constituted Department Research Committee.

This means that the written examination is the first stage, which will act as an elimination stage, in which 5o percent marks have to be secured, with no relaxation for disadvantaged and constitutionally recognized categories.

Only those who reach the second stage will even be considered for admission, and this stage is the viva stage. Thus the viva will determine who will be admitted, but only after the initial weeding out stage.

Those of us who have worked in the Indian University system for decades know that it is our robust social justice policies that have made our universities vibrant, lively and challenging spaces where intellectual practice is being constantly reshaped.

Th UGC notification is an attempt to sabotage this trend, and the JNU VC is acting as a willing servitor to this politics. One element of this politics is to control and manipulate the selection of both students and faculty.

We cannot permit this to happen.

One thought on “JNU VC sabotages democratic functioning of Academic Council to push through anti-social justice policies

  1. Mukul Dube

    Tampering with the record, suppressing the truth or replacing it with lies, is a characteristic Sanghi attempt to re-write history. The faculty of JNU are now being crushed under the same boot that has been used on its students.

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