JNU teachers go on strike against University VC and administration

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: July 31, 2018

They will agitate against the concerted and systematic attack on JNU from July 31 and a referendum will be held on August 7 on the vice chancellor.

 
JNU

The teacher’s association of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNUTA) have gone on a strike against the administration and will be embarking on a series of events to register their protest. They began the strike on July 31 and a two-day convention on the crisis of higher education will be held on August 3 and 4. They will agitate against the concerted and systematic attack on JNU and a referendum will be held on August 7 on the vice chancellor.
 
A report released by the JNUTA said that in its GBM held on 24 July 2018, it took note of the serious developments that have taken place in the university since the current Vice Chancellor, Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, took office. “Quite apart from the seven charges that emerged from the public enquiry held last year, the conditions in JNU, over the last semester and more specifically during the summer break, have taken a turn for the worse,” the report said.
 
“JNU stands on the edge of a precipice. We could choose to be remembered as the generation of teachers who succumbed to an intentional destruction of all the cherished principles that this university has espoused over the last half century. But we must choose to stand up in unity against the attack (partly led by malicious intent and partly resulting from sheer incompetence) on a university that means so much to all of us,” they said.
 
SabrangIndia had recently reported in July that the JNUTA had condemned the uncivil language used by the VC for the faculty. “The JNUTA has expressed its dismay at the outcome of the 146th Academic Council meeting that was held on July 13, 2018. In a statement released on July 14, the JNUTA noted that the JNU administration and Chair of the Academic Council, the Vice Chancellor Professor M Jagadesh Kumar made it amply clear that “they have no intention of retracting from their autocratic mode of functioning and no interest in upholding procedural integrity” It said that several sweeping decisions were pushed through in the meeting despite the fact that the issues on the agenda demanded “extensive discussion” on the floor, proper procedure, due deliberation and caution,” the report said.
 
SabrangIndia had reported in March that the University removed seven of the faculty members who had complained against the mandatory attendance for all courses rule. Over 90 per cent students had voted against mandatory attendance in a referendum conducted in March. However, the next month, the Delhi High Court reinstated a dean and four other department heads.
 
In March, another protest was held by students of JNU to restore GSCASH. GSCASH is a body constituted by JNU in 1999 by the recommendations of the Working Group on Sexual Harassment in 1997. The Rules and Procedures were approved by JNU Executive Council in 2001. The Committee implemented the Jawaharlal Nehru University Policy Against Sexual Harassment (1999) as also the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of India, in its ruling on the Writ Petition (Criminal) Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan (1997) on the prevention and deterrence of sexual harassment at the workplace.
 
However, the GSCASH was replaced by the ICC in its 269th Executive Council meeting held on September 18 2017 and ICC, which was supposed to have members nominated by the administration, was formed. Sabrang India had reported that a professor was not being charged for sexual harassment even after seven or more victims had filed FIRs as the ICC wanted to protect him.
 
In their report, signed by Sonajharia Minz (President, JNUTA) and Sudhir K. Suttar (Secretary, JNUTA,) JNUTA put forward the seven charges against the administrations and their callous approach to serious offences.
 
Full text below:
 
A. New Developments
 
1.Breakdown of all deliberative processes of the university: Academic Council (AC) meetings are either not held or held during the vacation period. The composition of the AC meetings is sought to be “managed”. The AC meetings are entirely “stage-managed”, with limited scope for discussion. Issues that are neither on the Agenda, nor tabled items, are deemed to have been “passed” by the AC (eg. mandatory attendance for students and teachers). Individual teachers are humiliated at the AC meetings. Dissent is not recorded. Issues of crucial import are not discussed at the Executive Council (EC). Rather, approval is sought (with no prior discussion) via email sent to EC members, allowing them a window of only a few hours to “approve”. Bottom-up decision-making flowing from Centres and Schools is a thing of the past as decision-making is monopolized by the “top administration.”

2. Dubious HEFA Loan: The JNU administration, under the leadership of Prof. Kumar, has hastily submitted a proposal for a loan of Rupees 515 crores on behalf of the university, implying (i) Indebtedness for the university community: Even though the loan is interest-free, the principal amount of Rs 515 Crore is to be mobilised from within the university. On an assumption that JNU’s sanctioned faculty strength is 700, this will amount to a burden of debt of over Rs 73.5 lakh per faculty member. If the recovery is done through a fee hike, over a period of five years (assuming 10,000 students in total, inclusive of the three new schools/programmes), it will amount to 1 lakh per student per year, sounding the death knell for the hallmark of JNU – its socially inclusive character. (ii) Lack of transparency: The decision to take on such a large liability was taken without any process of deliberation – not even in the Executive Council of JNU; EC members were informed about it and their approval sought via email in a few hours time. The EC members were given no information whatsoever about the repayment plan, if at all one exists.
 
3.Autonomy: The “autonomy” awarded to JNU, the implications of which are less than clear, has been wholeheartedly embraced by the JNU VC, with no discussion with the stakeholders within the university. Is the university ready for fee hikes, self-financing courses, decision-making driven by considerations of revenue generation, creation of hierarchies among and within centres and faculty based on fund generation capabilities, differential “performance-based” pay structures, inflow of foreign students for income generation, dismantling of affirmative action, etc.?
 
4.Online Entrance Exam: Without taking the opinions of the Schools and Centres, and brushing aside all informed opinion in the Academic Council, the JNU administration has decided to make all entrance examinations objective and exclusively online. This ill-conceived scheme is not only going to lead to a decline in quality and diversity of students, it is a process that will be riddled with technical failures, and will be decidedly unfair to most applicants to JNU.
 
5.Regimentation and bureaucratization of academics: Without recourse to proper procedure, the VC has unilaterally approved the plan for (biometric) attendance for teachers, which are claimed to have been ‘passed’ by the Academic Council (the proposal for attendance for teachers was neither on the pre-circulated agenda nor a tabled item at the 146th AC meeting, where it is deemed to have been “passed”). This is despite the matter of mandatory attendance for students having being challenged in court and currently subjudice.
 
6.Ill thought out draft Intellectual Property Rights policy: The proposed provisions are legally untenable and outright dangerous. The application of the policy includes visiting guest faculty, research scholars, students and distinguished persons and the university proposed to take copyright control over all work created by “stakeholders.”
 
7.Wastage of public funds: The arbitrary policies undertaken by this administration has meant an unprecedented level of litigation. Not only is this indicative of a complete failure on the part of the university leadership to resolve issues within the campus, it also means that tax payers’ money is being wasted solely to fight cases – created by the administration itself – in courts.
 
B. Charges during the JNUTA Public Enquiry (2017)
 
1. Repeated Violation of JNU’s Statutory Provisions and Obligations
2. Undermining the integrity of the faculty selection process.
3. Damaging the interests of students through seat cuts and violation of reservation policy.
4. Harassing and humiliating teachers and denying them their rightful due.
5. Assaulting democracy and promoting authoritarianism.
6. Undermining JNU’s anti-sexual harassment policy by illegally dismantling GSCASH.
7. Displaying a callous attitude towards the disappearance of a student (Najeeb Ahmed.)
 
Signed by Sonajharia Minz (President, JNUTA) Sudhir K. Suttar (Secretary, JNUTA)


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