JNUTA raises questions for education ministry, alleges ‘misgovernance’ in JNU

“VC Jagadesh Kumar has chosen to govern the university on his own personal whims and fancies,” alleged JNUTA

JNUTA raises questions for education ministry, alleges ‘misgovernance’ in JNU JNU university, New Delhi (Image Source: Official website)
Abhiraj P | Jan 25, 2022 - 1:50 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA), in a statement released today has raised concerns about the functioning of JNU to the ministry of education, especially regarding the alleged “mismanagement” of the administration.

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The JNUTA has for long opposed the vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar in whose tenure JNU’s systems of admission, appointments and introducing new programmes have undergone drastic changes. Kumar’s tenure ended in January 2021 but he remains in position. The JNUTA as well as the students’ union JNUSU have also been engaged in many court cases against the VC and his administration and both have demanded the appointment of a full-time vice-chancellor for the university.

Also read | ‘Authoritarian functioning’: JNUTA condemns JNU’s adoption of CUCET for admission

On January 25, the JNUTA issued an open letter to the education ministry, raising several questions about the alleged “misgovernance” at JNU. The full text of the letter is given below.

JNUTA letter to education ministry

On the completion of a year of Jagadesh Kumar occupying the position of a Caretaker vice-chancellor, JNUTA takes this opportunity to raise its concerns about the functioning of the university before the ministry of education by way of questions:

  • In the university system, the position of the vice-chancellor is an important one. Yet it has been over a year now that JNU, one of the premier universities of the country, has been functioning without a full-time vice-chancellor. Several other central universities that had a similar vacancy have had new appointees. What then explains the delay in the case of JNU?

  • Directives issued by the ministry of education and provisions of JNU’s own statutes explicitly forbid vice-chancellors whose tenures are formally over from taking decisions on policy matters of a substantive nature. Yet, important decisions related to policy matters are being pushed through by the caretaker vice-chancellor, without any discussion, which has far-reaching consequences for JNU in the long run.

  • On day to day matters of the university, Kumar has however been less enthusiastic, almost non-committal. For example, only this year on January 22, nearly seven months after the Delhi High Court had issued specific instructions, an order was finally passed by the university administration announcing the establishment of a Covid Isolation facility within JNU. The circular issued on this occasion by the JNU administration falsely claimed credit for the efforts and failed to mention that the decision was largely the outcome of an application moved by JNUTA in the Delhi High Court in January this year.

  • During the second wave of Covid, it may be recalled that the university community struggled for medical help that the university failed to provide. Months later, faculty members are yet to receive reimbursement for the medical expenses that they incurred during this phase.

  • On the teaching front, while the university moved to online teaching during the pandemic - despite several requests there was no financial help provided to faculty for the purchase of teaching aids by the university. No institutional subscription was provided to faculty for any online platform wherein bigger classes could be easily accommodated. To top it all, the caretaker vice-chancellor paid no heed to demands for a review of online teaching and learning suggested by faculty representatives. No steps were taken by him to personally ensure that faculty were duly rewarded with additional Earned Leave for working without any break over the past two years.

  • Financial bottlenecks due to administrative incompetence have meant that many regular academic and outreach programs have suffered immeasurably and many faculty members have had to face cutbacks in research support.

  • This financial mismanagement has also caused a shocking deterioration in the housing facilities provided for faculty members (for which they pay rent), with roofs literally collapsing on the heads of residents and water leakage being commonplace.

  • Regarding filling of teaching posts, particularly the reserved positions, there have been inordinate delays due to wilful misinterpretation of the roster system by the VC, to rectify which faculty members had to move court. The exercise of reexamination of the roster for faculty recruitment as ordered by the Delhi High Court was thereafter undertaken without even the slightest admission of a wrong having been committed earlier by JNU administration. While the new roster still has many limitations that have been pointed out by the petitioners, the administration has made no attempts to rectify these anomalies.

  • On the stoppage of pension benefits to retired faculty, again, despite the rulings of the High Court, the vice-chancellor has still not directed the administration to clear all dues including leave encashment and commutation.

  • The illegalities committed by the VC on the appointment of chairpersons have similarly been called out by the Delhi High Court, yet the VC continues to brazen it out by simply ignoring university processes in administrative matters. His practice of muting microphones of those who raise questions on his way of functioning during meetings of statutory bodies, his willful distortion of minutes and records of proceedings, and last-minute introduction of important agenda matters so that they can be rushed through illegally, the orchestrated bullying of those who do show the integrity to stand up to illegalities, is by now a well-recognized pattern of functioning adopted by the administration led by him.

  • The security situation on campus has also been deteriorating as was evident in the recent incidents of violence against two women students. The spate of burglaries on campus has further strengthened the grounds for removal of the security company, Cyclops, from the payrolls of the university. Yet, the vice-chancellor has not taken any action against Cyclops for non-performance of essential duties.

Also read | JNUTA demands better guidelines for evaluating candidates

Jagadesh Kumar has chosen to govern the university on his own personal whims and fancies. The Delhi High Court in several of its judgements has explicitly pointed to the transgressions committed by the JNU vice-chancellor, raising thereby serious concerns about his administrative misgovernance. These court directives again have been largely ignored by him in both sum and substance. The questions posed to the ministry of education are simple - who is responsible for the less than satisfactory functioning of the university over the past one year; can a caretaker vice-chancellor be allowed to run the university as per his own personal whims and fancies; can the ministry afford to remain silent in such a situation on the illegalities committed by the caretaker vice-chancellor in JNU, and finally when and how soon will the ministry announce a full time vice-chancellor for JNU.

Also read | JNU: Teachers, students raise issue of safety after PhD student molested on campus

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