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'Motivated Campaign Launched to Defame Admin Reforms': JNU on Professor Emeritus Row

The university's statement came a day after the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association accused it of spreading 'blatant falsehood' over its letter to historian Romila Thapar asking her to submit her CV.

PTI

Updated:September 4, 2019, 8:18 PM IST
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'Motivated Campaign Launched to Defame Admin Reforms': JNU on Professor Emeritus Row
File photo of Romila Thapar
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New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University on Wednesday said a "motivated campaign" had been launched to "defame administrative reforms and application of rules" using the "name of one Professor Emeritus" and stressed that it was not targeting "one professor".

The varsity said there was a "huge skew" in the earlier appointments and this was done to make the process "broad-based" so that more Professor Emeriti can be appointed.

The university's statement came a day after the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association accused it of spreading "blatant falsehood" over its letter to historian Romila Thapar asking her to submit her CV. They demanded that it immediately retract such letters sent to 12 professors emeriti, besides tendering a personal apology.

The varsity said "no single emeritus professor has been targeted, as has been falsely alleged", and "it has only sought to implement a rule that is part of the university's ordinance".

"Several news reports and social media opinions have been circulating giving one-sided views on the issue of Professor Emeritus position in JNU. Clearly, there is a motive to defame administrative reforms and application of rules that are based on statutes and ordinances of the university by the administration," it said in a statement.

Last year, one such step taken by the JNU Executive Council, the highest statutory body of the university comprising deans, chairpersons, and renowned academicians from outside JNU, was to regulate the process of appointments and continuation of the positions of Professor Emeritus in the university, it said.

"The goal was to make the process broad-based, time-bound and rule-based selection, so that Professors Emeriti are appointed across disciplines and schools in the university," the varsity said.

Currently, there are 21 Professors Emeriti in JNU — 17 from Social Sciences and Humanities and four from Sciences.

"One can see that there is a huge skew in the earlier appointments of Professor Emeriti. A substantive number of faculty members in JNU from various disciplines to have numerous academic achievements and laurels," the varsity said.

Many eminent faculty members who could have positively guided upcoming researchers in many fields have missed out in the past from being appointed as a Professor Emeritus and the objective was to set an age limit and make the selection broad-based so that justice is given to the deserving retired faculty members, the varsity said.

Accordingly, a committee was set up to analyse the current status of this position and recommend suitable steps for consideration by the Executive Council of the university.

The committee gave its recommendations and the Executive Council approved it after deliberations. It was then put in the ordinance of the university.

It was on the basis of this new ordinance that Professor Emeriti who had attained the age of 75 were requested to submit their contributions to the university in the last few years so that a committee set up for reviewing the position could look into it.

Since everyone is equal before the law, letters were sent to all 12 professor emeriti who have attained the age of 75 to know their availability and willingness to participate in the academic activities of the university, it said.

"But a motivated campaign was soon launched using the name of one professor emeritus, among many, primarily to find fault with a new rule that was made part of the academic rules and regulations of the university much earlier," the varsity said.

The JNU administration's decision to ask Thapar to submit her CV for assessment for her continuation as professor emerita had drawn sharp criticism from various quarters with JNUTA terming it "politically motivated", following which the university registrar on Monday said that there are 11 others who have also been asked to submit their CVs.

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