JNU is quite different from other universities in the country. They are always in limelight due to reasons which are mostly non-academic. Just 2 years ago, JNU was protesting against the false sedition charges on its president, Kanhaiya Kumar. This time, other issues are fueling the furnace.
JNU students and professors oppose the 75% attendance rule.
On December 22, 2017, the JNU Vice-Chancellor issued a circular making 75% attendance compulsory for all students. These included M.Phil and Ph.D students too.
On January 4, 2018, students led by JNU Student Union gathered in large numbers near the administration block. The purpose was to meet with the Vice Chancellor and submit a memorandum against the circular.
Members of the student body were fined of Rs 10,000 each for ‘protesting’ as they had violated the court order. In 2016, Delhi High court had issued an order prohibiting students from protesting or holding demonstrations within 100 meters of the administration block.
Bhaskar Jyoti, a research student at JNU, said “As far as undergraduate student attendance is considered, it’s fair enough but for students like us, who are pursuing M.Phil or Ph.D. which requires research, it’s unfair for us. We need time to research and complete our thesis but with this new rule of the university, it seems almost next to impossible to complete our work within the specific period of time.”
On February 15, 2018, when the students observed the passive nature of the authorities, they decided to protest. After few days, teachers also decided to boycott the university’s decision. The JNU Teachers Association had said it was “unproductive” and would lead to the teachers doing and “meaningless” form of bureaucratic work. Later in March, the teachers organized padyatra to the Parliament. They are against the removal of several department heads and a coordinator. They were accused for not complying with the institute’s new attendance rules.
Hike in Hostel fee
The JNU administration hiked the fees of hostel facilities by up to 400%. It drew objections from students. “Much like the decision of compulsory attendance”, this decision has also been arbitrary and without any discussion with the student representatives, they claimed.
“The administration had called us for an inter-hall administration meeting on January 17. They told us about a possible hike in hostel facilities like guest and mess admission charges; fine on late payments and a hike on certain food items,” said Simone Zoya Khan, JNU student union vice-president.
JNUSU president Geeta Kumari said the minutes of the meeting had not been released yet and it is “an autocratic decision”.
JNU granted autonomy
In a first, the University Grants Commission (UGC) awarded full autonomy to as many as 62 institutions of higher education.
JNU was awarded autonomy on the basis of high NAAC score (3.5 or above). They can now start new courses, collaborate with foreign institutions and will be reviewed based on self-reporting.
These include JNU, NALSAR, Jadavpur University, Osmania University, HCU, Jammu University, National Law University and TISS, among others.
JNU against prof. Johri
The Jawaharlal Nehru University students were protesting on Wednesday, demanding the suspension of Professor Atul Johri for sexual harassment allegations levelled against him. The protests came after Delhi’s Patiala House court granted him bail within 80 minutes of his arrest.
“We want JNU to suspend him & declare that he cannot enter university premises,” said students.
Duty magistrate Ritu Singh had granted bail to Johri, a professor in the Department of Life Sciences, and directed him to furnish a bail bond of Rs 30,000 for each of the eight first information reports (FIRs) registered against him in Delhi’s Vasant Kunj North Police Station.
Over 150 scientists have signed a petition calling upon Indian scientists and “women scientists in particular” to support students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, protesting the grant of bail to Professor Atul Johri, who is accused of sexual harassment. The letter exhorts the authorities to punish sexual misconduct by “blacklisting” offenders from funding, academies and participation in scientific committees.
Harassment of reporter by SHO
Vidyadhar Singh, an SHO of Delhi Cantonment police station has been booked by the Delhi police and an FIR registered against him for alleged molestation charges on the basis of a written complaint by a woman journalist.
The complainant said she was standing in a service lane near the protest site along with a fellow journalist when the police started hitting the demonstrators with batons.
Singh pushed and groped her and other female journalists.
“Both of us at that point told Mr Singh that we are journalists and he backed off for two minutes. He then proceeded to come towards us again and hooked at my chest and placed his hand on my right breast and pushed me again,” she said in her complaint.
Though it is fine to impose attendance rule on undergraduates but should not be arbitrary. Imposing attendance rule on masters and doctorate students is insane as it is completely impractical.
Hostel fee hike is inevitable but should not be that much. This would discourage under-privileged students. A hike of 10-20% is fine but not 400%.
Harassment case has already received a lot of fuel to keep nation burning for weeks. The only problem is that the public has a short-term memory and they forget very early. This should the turning point in the lives of victims and give adequate courage to come forward and speak about it.