This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Monica Koshy. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

After Students, JNU VC Makes Attendance Compulsory For Teachers

More from Monica Koshy

Earlier this year Jawaharlal Nehru University decided to make attendance mandatory for students. At the time, there was severe resistance against this decision. In spite of this, the authorities went ahead and took another decision – this time, to make attendance compulsory for teachers.

“The diktat to make teachers mark attendance is as ludicrous as the one to make students mark it – there is no problem of teachers not holding classes or attending office, and if there is, there already exist official ways to address it”, said Ayesha Kidwai, a Professor at the Centre of linguistics, JNU.

“While JNU had already implemented rules of attendance for students and administrative staff, the 146th Academic Council (AC) meeting through its resolution has made attendance mandatory for teaching community as well. JNU faculty need to give attendance at least once in a day. Moreover, the AC also approved a rule that during the registration process at the beginning of every semester, all the incoming and continuing students are required to give an undertaking that they will abide by attendance rules,” said Rector I Chintamani Mahapatra.

Introduction Of The Biometric System

The decision was made on July 13 by the Academic Council. At the meeting, it was expressly decided, by the Vice- Chancellor, that, there would be an introduction of a biometric attendance system for the teachers. This introduction was not taken well by the faculty.

“It was also announced that this regime will involve some kind of biometric verification, without even an examination of the several legal issues that arise from it or even the promise of a legal consultation. We expect it to be implemented without any further discussion, but all attempts to humiliate JNU teachers have always failed, and this one will not succeed either”, said Kidwai.

She also went on to tell us about how this decision hints towards an autocratic regime and how it would affect teachers. “Most teachers have classes four to five days a week, office hours, research study appointments, faculty meetings, meetings of various committees on campus, seminars, conferences. So much so that many teachers work on their weekends as well. As a teacher, I work 24X7 actually, reading students’ work after office hours at submission time, answering their text messages, and doing my own research. Is this attendance regime going to acknowledge any of this as the work I do for my salary? No. What it seeks to do is record just physical presence. The introduction of this measure is, like in the student case, intended primarily to harass teachers (selectively of curse), as any error, oversight, exceptional circumstance will be used to censure, launch inquiries, threaten salaries, etc. It will install a regime in which a teacher spending a few non-teaching days in a library will require ‘prior approval’, as will one going to conduct a viva voce in Delhi University,” she added.

The AC has also added to the responsibility of the teachers. It has now been made “mandatory for all teachers to show corrected answer scripts of all exams to students before finalising grades” to make corrections “more fair and transparent”.

Discretionary Power of the VC

The use of the discretionary power of the VC really bothered the teachers. And, the question of whether the above mentioned exercised power falls within the ambit of ‘discretionary powers’ remains.

“It wasn’t even part of the tabled items. It was only in the end during discussion of ‘any other matter’ that the VC casually informed that they were working on biometric system for student attendance. A faculty member jokingly said how about the faculty? The V-C was only too happy to pick it up and pass his verdict. Such an important decision cannot be passed as ‘any other matter’ without due deliberations,” Chintamani Mahapatra said, adding that there was “no scope for dissent” at the time.

“Anytime one hears the phrase ‘the VC’s discretionary powers’, one must read it to signal indiscretions of the third kind, i.e. based on an individual fantasy of what his powers under the JNU Act are”, added Kidwai.

Prohibition Of Certain People To Attend The AC Meeting

Apart from this, there was another issue. The JNU Students’ Union and Kavita Singh, Dean of the School of Arts & Aesthetics, were prohibited from attending the AC meeting. There was an allegation of defiance of discipline in previous meetings, against them. Following this action; the JNUSU (Students Union) raised their complaints outside the venue. On the other hand, the JNU Teachers’ Association protested this prohibition by sporting black clothes.

Making Entrance Exams Entirely Online

At the AC meeting, it was decided to make the entrance exam entirely online from the forthcoming academic year. On this matter, Mahapatra said, “An important decision has been taken by the AC to make JNU entrance examinations completely computer-based. Many members pointed out during an hour-long discussion on this issue that the admission process in JNU will now be fairer, efficient, secure and bias-free.”

However, Sonajharia Minz disagreed with the above stances calling this move “exclusionary” and citing it to “not be friendly, especially to the deprived sections”.

Research Scholars Can No Longer Hold Jobs

As registrations for the next semester at Jawaharlal Nehru University begin Monday, research scholars applying will be required to sign an undertaking declaring that they are not employed. This circular has created a lot of unrest among various groups of students and teachers. According to them, the decision is against the university ordinances.

“As per UGC rules, no full-time research scholar can hold jobs anywhere. Since many people do not read the entire notification, we issue these circulars periodically to alert them. This rule existed earlier too, but it wasn’t very clear. In MPhil, there is no concept of part-time jobs, but at the PhD level, if somebody wants to work, they need to enrol themselves as a part-time research scholar, which means they can’t avail the hostel facility,” Mahapatra told The Indian Express.

However, former JNU Teachers’ Association president Ayesha Kidwai claimed JNU is violating its own ordinances. She said: “The 2016 prospectus allows the possibility of admitting 12.5% students who are employed in PhD. The university has already said that students will be governed by ordinances and prospectus in force at the time, and, since the 2016-17 batch is still undergoing the process of registration, they cannot stop them from registering.”

The students and teachers are waiting for a positive response to the problems that have been raised.


Image source: Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
You must be to comment.

More from Monica Koshy

Similar Posts

By Arun Kr Jaiswal

By Amrita

By Mohit Nimal

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below