20 September is close. Birthday of Chandrashekhar. The young left leader who was murdered in Siwan in 1997. Before he went there he was in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Known to generations of the university as the President of its students’union. We organise an annual memorial lecture in his name at Patna . This year we had decided to invite a Professor from his university to deliver the lecture. She said a cautious yes as she was not sure if she would be given leave for it. For the last three years the teachers of the JNU have seen their leave application rejected, not only for popular lectures like the one above but also for seminars organised by their professional bodies or peers. But we insisted that she should try. So, we wrote a formal invitation letter to her, without mentioning the significance of the lecture. I apologised to Chandrashekhar for my cowardice. He would have smiled and called it an act of Brechtian cunning, defeating the vicious enemy non-violently.Continue reading DIsmantling of JNu
JNUTA is disappointed at the statement by the Minister of Human Resource Development regarding the number of research scholars working with each faculty in JNU, and considers his remarks as unbefitting of the Minister of Human Resource Development.
First of all, the claim that there are JNU teachers guiding more than 20/25 registered students is simply false, as this suppresses the important fact that JNU like other universities across India, has a provision that allows students to deregister from the university. This provision has proved very beneficial, as it enables students to take up employment and slow-track their PhDs until their life circumstances allow them to return to their jobs. It is only when deregistered students over a decade are included that some professors can have a reasonably large number.
We are reproducing a statement issued by JNUTA on 19 February 2017, on the situation in the university and the administration’s attempts to create a crisis where there is none.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association is deeply distressed at the continuing impasse in the University. Pursuant to its appeal on 13 February to the Vice-Chancellor to initiate a dialogue with the students, JNUTA has through the last week requested a meeting with him to discuss the situation on campus, but has not even received the courtesy of a reply. It has also spoken daily to the students worried about their future and that of the university about the concerns that the teachers, staff, and officers have at restoring the smooth functioning of the University administration building. Continue reading University Administration Trying to Precipitate Crisis: JNUTA
We, the undersigned teachers of JNU, are deeply concerned about the continued absence of Najeeb Ahmad, a student of M.Sc. Biotechnology, who was last reported as seen on JNU campus on 15 October 2016. We express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with Najeeb’s mother, sisters and extended family, and share in their anxiety and despair at the fact that even after ten days of Najeeb’s disappearance, neither the police not the JNU authorities have been able to provide any credible leads to his whereabouts; indeed, both have failed to even keep the JNU community informed of the progress of the search operations.
The JNUTA has repeatedly requested the VC to issue a personal appeal assuring Najeeb complete security and due process and to immediately set up a channel for the dissemination of this information, but to our dismay, the JNU administration has taken no concrete steps in this direction.The very least the JNU administration can do at this juncture is to issue a press release detailing all the steps it has taken thus far in facilitating the search for Najeeb, including its own efforts as well as its communications to the police and other authorities, and thereafter issue daily bulletins on the developments in the search. This willingness to share information with the JNU community and particularly Najeeb’s distraught and anxious mother and family, is absolutely imperative, both as a measure of enforcing accountability as well as to prevent the circulation of unfounded rumours. Continue reading An Appeal by JNU Teachers on the Disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed
The Following is a statement from JNUTA
30 March 2016
On actions of the VC of Central University of Jharkhand
The JNUTA condemns in the strongest possible terms the suspension of Dr. Shreya Bhattacharji and her removal from administrative positions by the Vice Chancellor of Central University of Jharkand. What is simply outrageous is the action on her part that has been deemed as ‘misconduct’ – namely, inviting an eminent academic to be a Guest of Honour at a function in the University. She was assigned the responsibility to organize the event. The presumption underlying the accusation – that the credentials of the invited scholar, Professor M.N. Panini, were questionable as he is considered to be “mentor of the group of students of JNU, who were involved in anti-national activities in JNU campus recently” – would be laughable if it were not a scandal.
Clearly, the maligning of Professor Panini is simply on account of his association with JNU, where he served on the faculty with distinction for many years before his retirement, and has absolutely no relation with recent incidents in JNU.
Guest Post by Architects from all over India and elsewhere
To: The JNU Teachers Association, JNU Students Union
CC: Vice Chancellor, JNU
We, the undersigned, are writing this in utmost shock and despair regarding the recent events and developments at your campus. We want to extend our full support to the JNU teachers association and the democratically elected JNU Student Union. We believe there is a difference between the nation, the state and the government of the day, and fully support your constitutional right to air your positions, as different or diverse as they may be, without illegal interference from any particular ruling ideology, party or state machinery.
As those engaged in architecture, we believe that imagination and reason are the highest of human faculties. This gift is what we constantly cultivate and rely on – in academia and in practice – when we question what exists, however natural, fixed and irreplaceable it may seem, and fearlessly posit alternatives. Indeed, there is little difference for us between possessing a moral imagination and being able to imagine such alternate worlds and other ways of being.
The inability therefore to envision life in another’s shoes, to disagree and to counter ideas with more aesthetic or eloquent ones without resorting to character assassination, violence and charges of anti-nationalism, betray to us an alarming lack of imagination, and we strongly condemn this in all its forms.
We condemn this absence of imagination and the physical and epistemic violence it has unleashed on the university community especially teachers and students. We stand with you in support of the university as a marketplace of ideas where all ideas and opinions are passionately argued, ripped apart, defended and critically re-imagined in ever new ways, leading to a more enlightened citizenry. This must be allowed to happen without fear or favor, risk of persecution or charges of sedition. If nothing else, the imagination of our founding fathers demands it, and we are in solidarity with your right to exercise it.
(This statement represents us in our individual capacities and not the institutions we are associated with.)
(In alphabetical order)
Published in The Hindu today
As over two thousand students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University gathered peacefully on Saturday to protest police action on campus and the arrest of the President of the Students’ Union, a potentially dangerous stampede was set in motion at the front, when at Rahul Gandhi’s entrance, media people with cameras rushed unheedingly into the thickly clustered people seated on the ground. The situation was exacerbated by a further push into that space by about fifteen Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists holding black flags and shouting slogans against Rahul Gandhi. Within seconds, however, the students conducting the meeting had organized a human chain to hold back and corral the media and the ABVP safely into one corner, and the human chain was then immediately taken up by the hundreds of teachers present. Until Rahul Gandhi left, the handful of ABVP activists continued their slogans, but they could only be heard by those seated in their immediate vicinity.
This is how students and teachers have always maintained, through the gravest provocations, perhaps the most peaceful campus in the country. Debate and dissent have always been part of its ethos but never violence, an ethos unfamiliar to those who only know violent suppression of dissent. Continue reading Why our universities are in ferment