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JNU Returns Faculty Member’s Request for EU-India Research Project Over ‘Marking Attendance’

The research project involves four European Universities with whom the academicians are partnering.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:January 9, 2019, 9:33 PM IST
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JNU Returns Faculty Member’s Request for EU-India Research Project Over ‘Marking Attendance’
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New Delhi: Marking attendance is now compulsory for the faculty of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

One of the casualties of this new rule is the European Union-India Project or EqUIP, which is touted as the first-ever international research collaboration network between India and the European Union, specifically dedicated to social science and humanities.

In a series of conversations between a JNU faculty member, who is also the principal investigator of the international project and the university administration, it was revealed that the administration desired to know if the concerned faculty member adhered to the attendance rules of the university and has been marking attendance in order to process the paper or file.

Professor Ranjani Mazumdar of School of Arts and Aesthetics is the principal investigator of the international project EqUIP. She gave her application for the title ‘FilmInd: The Indian Film Industry as the driver of new socio economic connections between India and Europe’, which wassubmitted by principal investigator Prof Walter Leimgruber, University of Basel, Switzerland to the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research.

For this project, Kavita Singh, the Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics Kavita Singh, wrote a letter of support for a signature from the administration to be able to process the project. But there has been no progress since due to the issue of ‘marking the attendance’.

In the letter of support, on December 11, Kavita Singh informed registrar Pramod Kumar: “You will be pleased to know that the faculty members belonging to the Cinema Studies stream of the School of Arts and Aesthetics have been awarded the ICSSR Eq-UIP grant for collaborative research between Indian and European universities.”

The research project involves four European Universities with whom the academicians are partnering. She asked the administration to “kindly sign this at your earliest convenience so that we could send it to the ICSSR for further processing”.

The administration sent back the request, seeking confirmation that “the concerned faculty member has adhered to the attendance rules of the university and has been marking his or her attendance in order to process the paper or file”.

Appalled at the response, Mazumdar told News18, “The grants cannot come through ICSSR until they sign. This is a collaborative project with EU. If grant in one suffers, others will suffer too in a collaborative project.”

She said the ICSSR is to give money to JNU to support the research, for which the sign is important. “But they can’t until the form that ICSSR has sent with my name is signed by the university registrar. And we got this project through a competitive application process and a major international panel met in Paris to look at the applications. All the applications are collaborations between European and Indian universities,” she said, and added, “Only six have been selected out of 65, and we in JNU are one of them.”

On board the project are Professor Ira Bhaskar from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Professor Ranjani Mazumdar, Associate Professor Veena Hariharan, Associate Professor Kaushik Bhaumik and Associate Professor Shikha Jhingan.

Singh, who was in the news for being declined leave by the administration to collect an Infosys award, responded to the administration writing.

“This is to inform that Professor Ranjani Mazumdar has been diligently attending to all her duties teaching, advisement and administrative tasks that come to her. Moreover, she has gone above the call of duty through her publications, public lectures and conference participation, excellent research and by bringing grants collaborations and conferences to the University, all of which bring renown to the institution and contributing immensely to its rankings,” her letter said.

The roots of this collaboration between EU-India go back to 2017 when a ‘Collaborative Research with Impact’ event was organised by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) with Research Councils UK (RCUK) India.

The JNU teachers’ association has asked for an explanation about the “academic logic behind doing such an exercise in a University which has been recognized for its research, teaching and learning environment not just within the country but worldwide”. It demanded the university administration to specify what study was conducted to come to the conclusion that “forcing daily attendance biometric is the best practice of academic accountability”.

Teachers argued that such a policy is only to establish a regime of surveillance in a university that has been noted for academic excellence.

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