Over 400 world academicians express concern over new JNU admission policy
New Delhi, Feb 23: More than 400 scholars and academicians from across the world have written to Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) urging him "to retain" the existing admission policy of the university and "to restore the institutional autonomy of JNU".
In a letter to JNU V-C Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, they expressed "deep concern and shock at the events unfolding on your campus..."
"We urge the responsible authorities to act decisively to protect the future of JNU as an internationally renowned university of academic excellence, which has produced generations of excellent researchers, scholars and other professionals. It is also well known for its academic freedom and autonomy that fosters debates, discussions and dissent," the academicians said in the letter.
The JNU has recently announced to implement the 2016 guidelines of UGC regarding admissions in MPhil and PhD courses, which teachers and students say will make a huge cut in the seats of these courses. For past three weeks, there have been protests, demonstrations, blockade and hunger strikes over the issue in the campus.
"Most of us have had the privilege of being closely associated with the academic community of JNU. In many instances, a formal MoU between our institutions has enabled the exchange of students and faculty between our institutions, other than different kinds of research collaboration. This would not have been possible without JNU's institutional commitment to research oriented education, other than maintaining a consistently high standard of faculty publications, and other output. It is therefore shocking to think that a university of such repute, whose very creation was in order to nurture a culture of research, is now being wilfully destroyed."
"We also feel that such an attack on public education in universities like JNU disables opportunities for the historically marginalised communities of India. The right to education that has been won through histories of struggles by the marginalised communities has led to the creation of campus cultures that are diverse, increasingly inclusive, and intellectually and politically vibrant. Therefore, it is essential that an enabling Admission policy, like the one in place in JNU must be retained, other than abiding by the Constitutionally mandated policies for affirmative action," wrote the academicians hailing from various universities including University of California, University of Minnesota, Columbia University, University of Turin, Italy, University of London and University of Pennsylvania.
"JNU is vital to an international network of world class collaborative research in different subjects, and especially in the social sciences and humanities. Now, however, the academic culture and context that has formed the very basis of our cooperation with JNU, and that has enabled its students and scholars to be recognized across the globe for their pioneering intellectual work, is under serious threat. Students, who are the essence of any university, and the future of a nation, are staring at their lives being brought to a complete standstill," they said.
The academicians have urged the V-C to "engage the students and teachers who are understandably anxious and distraught, in a meaningful dialogue" and "to find a meaningful solution to the present situation."
"We request you to restore the institutional autonomy of JNU and provide immediate assurance to the national and international community that JNU will maintain its commitment to an academic, and intellectual, vision of a university that champions academic freedoms, teaching and research, keeping social and gender justice, and civil liberties, intact," read the letter.