JNU Agenda : Reform Agenda for JNU
JNU is at the centre of storm for wrong reasons. The University which has given many academicians, civil servants, and politicians is being on radar of many and tagged as anti-national. Are the basic issues related to academic content, pattern of research and administrative structures etc responsible for this? Despite being primarily the research university, why is JNU still not ranked in top universities of the world? What can be done to make it a world class institution? These are some of the questions we asked to former JNUites who have given their agenda for reforming JNU. Here are their views:
The present crisis that is engulfing Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is a culmination of the Leftist agenda of the academia in the campus since its inception in 1969. This is something that has been permitted by the silent majority of students who have come here to study, learn, do research and finally make a career.
I am also a part of the silent majority that studied in this great institution in the 1980s, to be precise from 1985 to 1990, where I earned my M.Phil and PhD degrees. We came from different backgrounds, states and classes, but we still created a single academic community and fought our battles in the most respectful manner. In the 25 years since then, what is it that changed so dramatically? What caused law and order situation breakdown in the university?
We need to ponder deeply as to where the Malaise. Is it really about freedom and autonomy of institutions, groups or individuals? Does freedom mean that the ultra Left dictates and hijacks the agenda with absolute disregard to the feelings of others? This agenda has permitted certain forces mainly outsiders to take centre stage and take JNU to the brink. Nobody is against different opinions but rather the exclusive nature of the propaganda is extremely dangerous. What then are the measures needed to bring back JNU to the centre? What surprises one is that JNU is accountable to the people of India as its funding comes from the Union government.
In the short term the academic positions should be filled up by faculty holding different ideological positions. Leftists among faculty is good but until now they have not permitted academia of other persuasions to come in. It is important that the new Vice Chancellor must have a supporting Governing Council who should see to it that faculty of all ideological persuasions should come in. Nominate on to JNU people of the academia and those who know the place. This will help for the reforms to be completed. Two, rules and regulations that are applicable to all Universities should be applied. For example the issue of attendance for students should be must, a minimum of 75 per cent, except in rare cases with valid medical reasons.
The interview element in the admission process should be brought down to the minimum and admission should be done on basis of written examination. Students should be given fixed semesters to complete a particular programme and there should be constant monitoring of the academic work.
In the long run the present government has to identify and construct an epistemic community that can debate, discuss and deliberate matters without political leaders coming in . For research is a serious matter and universities require an epistemic community. The paradigm shift has to take place at the level of ideas and discourse.
The institutions like JNU and other central universities deal with graduate, post graduate and research degrees. Here time frames for all procedures, especially at the pre doctoral levels must be quick and time bound, so that public money is not wasted. The students need academic rigour and constant monitoring by the supervisor so that the student completes in time and leaves the campus. Finally the university is a stepping stone for a career that they choose and this type of politics will ruin their careers. JNU has always tilted towards the Left because there was no challenge from the other side. Now that challenge has come, the Left is going to resist the attempt and that is what we see today.
Santishri D Pandit, School of International Studies (1985-1990) Prof. of Political Science, Pune University