SEE UPDATE AT END OF POST, ADDED ON FEBRUARY 20, 2018
Student poster displaying a clear understanding of Foucault and surveillance. Compulsory attendance is really not needed at JNU!
Let us begin with a basic fact. The diktat on compulsory attendance in JNU is only a symptom of the larger, continuing crisis created by the utterly dictatorial style of functioning of this Vice Chancellor.
Professor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar has, since his taking over in January 2016:
- openly flouted every statute and regulation of the university
- shut down admissions almost entirely for the 2017 academic year
- violated the law of the land, that is, constitutional provision for reservations
- failed to implement JNU’s Deprivation Point system that attempts to bring about representation for students from a diversity of class, regional and caste backgrounds
- shut down the country’s oldest functioning Committee on Sexual Harassment (GSCASH)
- brazenly cooked up and manipulated Minutes of meeting after meeting of the Academic Council and
- treated faculty and students of JNU as his enemies to be defeated by the naked use of authoritarian power.
We, the undersigned faculty members of JNU, express deep shock and dismay at the news that a complaint of rape has been lodged against a JNU student Anmol Ratan (an activist of a left students organisation but since then expelled from it), by another student of JNU. We express our support and solidarity for the complainant and request the JNU community, the administration, and the GSCASH to ensure that the due process of law is allowed to proceed without any hindrance.
It is of primary importance that the health and safety of the complainant be at the centre of all that the university community and the JNU administration does. This necessitates swift action to ensure that the accused (or those acting on his behalf) do not have any opportunity to intimidate, slander, or harm the complainant or the complainant’s witnesses, tamper with evidence or testimony, or otherwise create a campus environment that indulges in victim blaming or casting aspersions on the motives of the complainant.
We are therefore extremely dismayed to know that more than 48 hours after the complaint has been lodged, the accused has yet to be suspended or declared out of bounds from the university, so that safe conditions of complaint and testimony for the complainant may be maintained. We demand that this be done forthwith. This failure to act has tarnished the image of the JNU administration quite severely.
We also recognize the manner in which over the decades, teachers and students have made JNU a space in which women generally feel safe, and also empowered to report cases of sexual violence when these occur. This atmosphere however, has been caricatured in the recent past by sections of the media and by right-wing individuals as one of irresponsible sexual license, which the JNU administration has done nothing to counter.
We are dismayed also by the instrumental use of this case by some organizations on campus to further their political ambitions.
The JNU administration must undertake to cover all medical and legal costs of the complainant. It must fully cooperate with the investigation. So must all other members of the JNU community, as they are likely to have information relevant to the case and conduct of the accused.
As JNU faculty, we reiterate our commitment to building a campus that is safe, democratic, secular and mindful of the dignity of all sections of our community.
Paired Guest Posts by CHINTU KUMARI and UMAR KHALID
[ Every struggle goes through highs and lows. The students who are part of the movements that are spreading out of universities in India – Hyderabad Central University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jadavpur University have had their share of internal debates and disagreements, even as they have found moments of significant victory. and solidarity
Students at JNU who have recently concluded their hunger strike to give time to the university authorities to respond reasonably to the High Court directives on the HLEC punishments are now being criticized for having ‘abandoned the struggle’ by some sections who claim to play a role within the broader students movement, when, in fact, nothing of that sort has actually happened.
The majority of the students who were on hunger strike (including several JNUSU office bearers, and others) have said that they have given up the hunger strike against the HLEC recommendations in keeping with the court order. In doing so, they have never said that they are suspending the agitation against the attempts by the JNU administration to weaken OBC reservation in admissions, hostel seats and deprivation points for women and oppressed sections of society.
In fact it is not as if the HLEC punishments issue has taken precedence over the other issues. It is actually the other way round. The students have decided to give priority to the struggle for ’social justice’ within the campus, while simultaneously giving time to the university authorities to respond adequately to the court directive on the HLEC punishment question.The call for a demonstration against the University Authorities by the JNUSU to continue the struggle on the social justice issues on the 16th of May is indicative of this fact.
The attacks and insinuations against the majority of the students at JNU who were on hunger strike have also featured a deliberate attempt to create divisions within the unified ‘Red-Blue’ / ‘Jai Bhim-Lal Salaam’ dynamics of the movement on the grounds of identity. Activists, such as Umar Khalid, on the left have been singled out for being ‘Savarna-Syed’, if they happen to bear a Muslim name, and for being ‘sold out to the Savarna left’ if they are Dalit, as happened with Chintu Kumari and Rama Naga. This attack has come primarily from individuals representing organizations like BAPSA that claim to speak from a ‘Dalit’ position, and it is given traction by several other individuals eager to flaunt their disdain for the ‘left’ students on Facebook and social media. Continue reading Choice, Agency and the Naming of Names – The Trap of ‘Immediate Identities’ and the Vision of a Democratic Revolution: Chintu Kumari & Umar Khalid
Guest Post by JANAKI NAIR
In an interview to the journal Frontline on February 16, 2016, just 11 days before he took over one of India’s most prestigious universities, Prof Jagadesh Kumar had this to say:
I am a defender of free expression of thought in a democratic set-up and students are free to question me or challenge my views. I believe in constructive criticism, and as long as it is done peacefully and within the boundaries of the law, there is no problem.
Declaring his two top priorities, of which one was the redressal of infrastructural shortcomings, he desired
to improve the learning environment by making it more student-centric. Some of the faculty are great researchers, but they do not have much understanding of teaching. What I want to do requires cooperation from faculty members.
These words, which Prof Kumar has thus far not refuted or denied, should be recalled today, more than three months after his takeover, the most tumultous months the University has ever known. It is too early to judge the VC on his infrastructure promise, as some of us continue to make bone rattling journeys on cycles over the most rutted roads on the campus. Continue reading Who will Educate the Educators? Reflections on JNU today: Janaki Nair
Photo Essay by FAYAZ AHMAD, JNU student on indefinite hunger strike
March against the biased and unjust HLEC Report, culminating in hunger strike
AYESHA KIDWAI in scroll.in
The indefinite hunger strike by 17 Jawaharlal Nehru University students has been continuing since April 28, with university teachers and students also showing their solidarity by joining as relay hunger strikers.
Despite the searing heat and failing health of many – including Chintu Kumari, Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar – the declaration by the Vice Chancellor of JNU that a hunger strike is an “unlawful activity” has only fuelled the strikers’ determination. Although over a hundred teachers met the Vice Chancellor and his team (as he likes to call them) in a bid to break the deadlock, no progress has been made because the JNU administration seems to believe that the fight here is one about the quantum of punishment.
Such is the chasm that separates the current JNU administration’s understanding of what the law is and what justice actually demands that the law has become something of a fugitive in JNU these past few months. The extremely obstinate, vengeful and motivated enquiry proceedings anddisciplinary action over the February 9 event have so perverted university procedures and institutions that the entire JNU administration now faces a crisis of credibility.