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Poor Communication Between JNU Administration and Democratic Bodies Creating Rifts

In the past week, JNUTA wrote to the administration at least three times seeking an appointment. But they allege that he has not met them even once as a Union.

Eram Agha | EramAgha

Updated:February 21, 2018, 12:18 PM IST
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Poor Communication Between JNU Administration and Democratic Bodies Creating Rifts
File photo of JNU students' protest.
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New Delhi: The democratically elected bodies of Jawaharlal Nehru University – the Teachers and the Students’ Association have a complaint – “The VC does not meet us”. The chorus on the campus against M Jagadesh Kumar is on how the 'LoC' (Line of Communication) between the students, teachers on one hand and the administration on the other are drawing them apart.

Adding to that certain rules and regulations are also impacting and redefining the culture of communication on campus – like the “Viva Voce on SKYPE,” and “VC’s darbar on Mondays”. News 18.com finds newer communication arrangement on the JNU campus.

The VC’s Darbar

As alleged, the Vice Chancellor has not met the democratically elected bodies – JNUTA and JNUSU – but the administration came out with the clarification that the VC does meet teachers and students. He started a new practice: On the first Monday of every month between 2:30 and 5:30 pm, any student of JNU can go and meet the VC without an appointment. The statement from the administration said, “A large number of students including JNUSU office bearers meet the Vice Chancellor on these days. For example, on 5th February more than 40 students including the JNUSU office bearers met him.”

The VP of the JNUSU Simone Zoya said, “On the first Monday of every month, the VC meets the students but he declined to meet us as a Union. He said that he will meet us as individual students and not as members of the democratically elected Union of the university.”

Viva Voce on SKYPE

There was a circular on January 17 with the rules and regulations on MPhil/PhD Viva Voce through video conferencing with effect from winter semester 2018. The rules are that schedule and details of the Viva Voce should be circulated in advance and it should be held in hall/room, which is equipped with necessary infrastructure to hold Viva Voce on SKYPE or through video conferencing.

No travel expenses will be reimbursed to the external examiner for availing video conferencing facility for the MPhil/PhD Viva Voce exams. “The Viva Voce through video conferencing is another blow to the culture of communication on campus – In JNU education is also about psychological support. There is teaching with informal interaction,” said the secretary JNUTA Sudhir Kumar Suthar, assistant professor JNU.

Some students complained that the connectivity is so poor on campus that the examiners lose patience on SKYPE or video conferencing. Exemption from Viva Voce through video conferencing can happen only under extraordinary circumstances, and prior approval would be needed for a Viva Voce to be conducted in person.

Only electronic communication accepted

The newly elected JNU Teachers’ Association on being elected sent a letter to the Vice Chancellor requesting to meet him. They wrote to the VC saying, “We the newly elected JNUTA team would like to pay a courtesy call on you as per your convenience.” The reply they got on February 7, 2018 was “Please send all files/notes through e-office.”
JNUTA secretary Suthar said, “We can only communicate electronically with the administration. There was no response to our past mails. The teachers’ body has nothing against going paperless but had restricted access to e-office.”

In a request to the administration, the President of JNUTA Sonajharia Minz wrote to the administration demanding some services of e-office such as file and document to be able to send communication to officials in the administration.

Who are we meeting?

In the past week, JNUTA wrote to the administration at least three times seeking an appointment. Since election in September last year, JNUSU asked for time from the VC as well. But they allege that he has not met them even once as a Union. On February 18, registrar Pramod Kumar invited JNUTA to be part of the meeting to discuss university related issues on February 22 and invited JNUSU on February 23. But both the bodies are clueless about the agenda and uncertain if they will find the VC there because the invite makes no such mention.

The teachers’ body asked on email for the agenda of the meeting. They were told that the meeting is on “university related issues.” This does not say anything about the meeting we don’t know why we are being called, said Suthar.
On Friday, JNUSU would be attending the meeting, “But we are not clear about who we are going to meet. The invite makes no such mention of the detail. Maybe we get to see him as a Union, or maybe not,” said Zoya.

Consent on email?

In a letter to the Registrar of JNU Pramod Kumar, Professor and EC member Surajit Mazumdar, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University wrote that it remains unclear to him as to why an emergency meeting of the Executive Council was called to consider the supposed recommendations of the Academic Council. It was not clear to him as to why this matter has to be settled on mail and cannot wait for a regular meeting.

In view of what Mazumdar wrote to the administration, he found himself unable to give my consent by e-mail to the ‘approval’, to what he was not even convinced are the well thought out decisions of the Academic Council. This issue acquires significance for the JNU teachers because the Academic Council meeting was held only on 1 December last year after an extremely long gap.
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