Najeeb Jung (58) calls his new job as the vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia University his “seventh incarnation”.
And one couldn’t agree more with him.
From being a civil servant to working as an advisor to some of the biggest energy corporations, Jung has donned several professional roles with ease.
Heading a central university that is over eight decades old, Jung say he is ready to acclimatise to yet another professional shift. And he’s unwilling to be intimidated by any debate over the ability of a bureaucrat to run an academic institution.
“I do not view this any differently from what I have done before. As a government servant, I have done a variety of jobs including looking after people’s welfare,” he said on his second day as V-C.
“As a vice-chancellor, it is students’ welfare that I now have to protect and encourage.”
Father of three daughters, Jung hails from a liberal Muslim family known for the strong role it played during the freedom struggle. His ancestral home in Daryaganj called Hameed Manzil (over 150 years old) hosted meetings attended by Maulana Azad, Sarojini Naidu and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
His great grandfather was the Chief Justice in the court of Nizam of Hyderabad.
His uncle A.M. Khwaja was the Vice Chancellor of Jamia from 1922 to 1924 and also the longest serving Chancellor of the varsity from 1936 to 1962.
Having studied at some of the most prestigious institutions (St. Columba’s School, St. Stephen’s College and London School of Economics), Jung has spent the last ten years at Oxford University as a senior research scholar. And hopes to replicate that same experience for his students, who mostly “hail from small towns and come to Jamia to seek higher education.”
Though just two days old in the institution, Jung has a strong vision for Jamia.
“I want to instill the same level of confidence in my children as say students of Delhi University or JNU have. Jamia should have an alumni that it can be proud of,” he said.
Those who have known Jung do not doubt his ability to bring about such a change.
“Najeeb has made an excellent bureaucrat and he is good at managing people. He has all the personal qualities to make a good vice chancellor as well,” said David Baker, who taught him history at St. Stephen’s College.
Essentially an energy expert, Jung has authored two on natural gas in Asia which were published by Oxford University Press.