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JNU VC Makes SC/ST Admissions Tougher With New Rules, Suspends Students For Protesting

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Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) may soon admit students to its M. Phil. and Ph.D. courses based on a qualifying exam and an interview. The Academic Council (AC) meeting of the varsity approved the adoption of a UGC gazette notification on admission procedures despite protests by students and members of the Council. The proposal will now go to the Executive Council for approval, post which the change will come into effect.

The May 5 notification of the UGC had laid out a uniform procedure for higher educational institutions admitting M.Phil/Ph.D. students who have not qualified eligibility tests like NET, SLET, and GATE. The procedure requires students to pass an entrance test with 50 per cent marks as the qualifying score. The University will then select students with this minimum percentage on the basis of an interview. JNU currently gives 70 percent weightage to the entrance test and 30 percent weightage to the interview.

The notification also set uniform eligibility criteria for applying to research courses. The regulatory body had then said that students will have to pass the Master’s and M.Phil. programme with an aggregate of 55 percent marks for admission to M.Phil. and Ph.D. courses respectively. A relaxation of 5 percent will be given to candidates belonging to the SC/ST/OBC category.

Under the present system, the centres of JNU follow different eligibility criteria. However, all SC/ST/PD candidates who have passed the qualifying examination are eligible to appear for the entrance examination. OBC candidates get 10 percent relaxation in the qualifying examination. This too remains, however, subject to approval of the Academic Council.

While JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar said the University adopted the norms in the recently held academic council meeting, some members of the academic council claimed the issue was not discussed. They also said that they will challenge the decision.

“As far as AC members are concerned, that part of the minutes was contested. So if they try to make it official, they will face resistance,” Nivedita Menon, Chairperson of the Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory and a member of the AC, told YKA.

A statement by 20 faculty members also alleged that the minutes of the meeting “contained many errors, misrepresentations, and falsities”. “One of the most alarming insertions to the minutes gave the Vice Chancellor powers to manipulate the list of experts for Selection Committees sent by the Centres and Schools. This had not been approved by the previous Academic Council meeting,” the statement read. The statement further alleged that the VC pushed through the agenda “without any discussion despite several objections from the floor, including those who were not allowed to speak even once”.

“The Academic Council meeting was completely disrupted and disrupted by the Vice Chancellor. And nothing has been passed as far as we are concerned. So we are going to challenge this,” Ranjani Mazumdar, Professor at the Centre for Cinema Studies and a signatory of the statement, told YKA.

A statement from the University too confirmed the adoption of the May 5 UGC notification. Referring to protests against the passing of minutes, the statement asked members “to desist from indulging in such acts in future”. The university also served suspension orders to at least 11 students on December 27 accusing them of disrupting the AC meeting. The suspended known so far to have been served suspension orders are Bhupali Vitthal Magare, Rahul Sonpimple, Praveen Thallapelli, Dawa Sherpa, Dilip Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Dilip Kumar, Birendra Kumar,  Shakeel Anjum, Prashant Nihal, and Praveen Tulasi. Almost all students belong to the SC, ST, OBC, or minority communities.

The orders for the students, a copy of which YKA has seen, state that the VC has ordered their academic suspension and withdrawn their hostel facilities. A proctorial enquiry has also been instituted and the suspension will stand until the enquiry is finished. The orders also state that anybody giving shelter to the students inside the university will “invite strict disciplinary action”.

BAPSA, the organisation to which three of the suspended students belong, said in a Facebook post after the suspension that they were protesting at the AC meeting to demand reduction of the weightage given to the interview from 30 percent to 10, to demand minority deprivation points, implementation of SC/ST/OBC reservation at faculty level and in direct Ph.D. admissions, revoking of the recent fee hike, punishment for authors of a ‘racist’ dossier prepared earlier this year and those guilty of assaulting missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmad.

“The social boycott and academic suspension of BAPSA’s leading activists and others students from marginalized communities is a well-thought strategy by JNU VC (Backed by RSS/BJP) to counter the growing Ambedkarite Movement or the emergence of marginalized students politics in JNU. It’s a replication of last year MHRD/BJP’s attack on Rohith Vemula and others or Ambedkarite Movement in HCU,” the statement on the social media site read. It also criticised the AISA-SFI led JNU Students’ Union for not protesting on December 26.

Mulayam Singh, one of the suspended students YKA spoke to, also criticised the JNUSU and the JNU Teachers’ Association for not participating in the December 26 protest organised by BAPSA, DSU, United OBC Forum, and others. “Both the JNUSU and the JNU administration have collectively passed the decision of fee hike and given the fate of students in the hands of the various Centers by letting them decide the student’s marks in Viva Voice. It has been already proved that all of the Centers discriminate against ST, SC, OBC, and minority students. The Abdul Naffeh Committee which was formed by the JNU Administration itself has already stated that the discrimination against ST, SC, OBC, and minority students is high in all the Schools and Centres,” Mulayam Singh, one of the suspended students told YKA. 

Asked whether the protests will have any bearing on the final notification of the new admission process, the Registrar Pramod Kumar said, “We have confirmed it but there is a rule. After the Academic Council it will go to the Executive Council, and the Executive Council will approve it. So the process is long. But it is a UGC rule and everybody has to follow it. So we will also follow it”.

Note: The article has been updated to include details of the suspension orders, the statement by BAPSA, and the statement by suspended student Mulayam Singh.

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