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‘Borders are allowed to overlap’

education Updated: Apr 17, 2012 12:47 IST
Gauri Kohli

Going by its reputation as a school for intellectuals, JNU has a lot to offer to its students, says vice chancellor SK Sopory in an interview with HT Education.

Which are the most sought-after and important scholarships and fellowships on offer?
The following fellowships and scholarships are available to the students of the university:

* UGC-CSIR junior research fellowships are awarded to the students who qualify NET exam conducted jointly by the UGC/CSIR.

* UGC has also awarded various fellowships to the students of the University like Rajiv Gandhi national fellowship for SC/ST students, Maulana Azad national fellowship for minority category students, postgraduate meritorious scholarship for single girl child, postgraduate scholarship for university rank holder, meritorious scholarship for students of sciences and technology stream, etc

* Some state governments offer fellowships and scholarships to the students of the university hailing from their respective states

* Merit-cum-means scholarships are awarded to the deserving and meritorious students whose parent’s/guardian’s income does not exceed Rs. 1,00,000 per annum.

* Some other funding agencies like ICHR, ICMR, ICSSR, DST, etc, have also awarded fellowships to the students of the university
In addition to above, the following fellowships/scholarships out of the endowment funds are available to the students of the university

* SYLFF fellowship of Tokyo Foundation & Nippon Foundation, Japan

The fellowship holder enjoys this prestigious fellowship for a period of three years getting Rs. 15,000 per month out of the endowment of US$1 million given by Nippon Foundation. Two PhD students are awarded this fellowship every year and six students enjoy this fellowship at a given point of time.

* Fox International fellowship of Yale University

This is also a prestigious fellowship awarded annually to two students of MPhil/PhD programme in any of the following fields: economics, finance, political sciences, international relations, law and contemporary history. The students are awarded this fellowship to pursue their research for a year in Yale University and all expenses for the stay at Yale are borne by the Yale University.

* Okita Memorial fellowship of ICCR – Two fellowships @ Rs. 5,000 per month with an annual contingency grant of Rs. 10,000 is awarded every year by the ICCR to the meritorious Indian students of JNU who are registered for MPhil and MA second-year programme in any of the areas of specialisation bearing on Japan or on India’s relation with Japan

* G Parthasarathi endowment fellowship in the memory of Chandrasekhar Prasad to students of SC/ST/backward classes and physically handicapped students

* Australian High Commission fellowship - @ Rs. 3,500 per month plus annual contingency grant of Rs. 6,000 is awarded to PhD students for a period of two years working on a subject concerning Australian study at the centre of Centre for South, Central Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific Studies, School of International Studies

* Special fellowships – four fellowships are awarded @ Rs. 12,000per month to students hailing from SC/ST and PH category and pursuing MPhil/PhD programme with a view to preparing them for taking up teaching and/or research as career.

* Dr Sheila Zurbrigg fellowship to the students of The Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Sciences

* Tendulkar scholarship to the students of School of Social Sciences

* Professor Nurul Hasan scholarship to MA/MSc/MCA students of Social Science and science subjects

* Jawahar Bhawan Trust scholarship to MA/MSc/MCA students

* Professor MJK Thavaraj MCM scholarship to MA (economics) students

* Korea Foundation Fellowship

* Com. HL Parwana research stipend to MPhil students of School of International Studies and School of Social Sciences

* Swamy Pranavananda Memorial Research fellowship

* DS Gardi Sanskrit scholarships to MA(Sanskrit) students

* Nirman Foundation Scholarships to MA(Political Sciences) students

* Dr Prafulla K Pani research fellowship to the students of Special Centre for Molecular Medicine

* Ford Foundation Fellowship

The following awards/medals are also available to the students of the university
* The President of India Gold Medal
* Dr Arpita Mishra Award
* Rafael Iruzubieta Award
* AN Bhat Memorial Prize
* Vimla Saran Gold Medal
* Sajjad Zaheer and Razia Zaheer Award
* Juhi Prasad Award
* Devendra Kumar Gupta Award
* School of Physical Sciences Gold Medal
* Ranjan Roy Memorial Prize
* Professor TK Oommen Cash Award
* Professor KJ Mahale Cash Award
* Award of Professor S Marcandane Memorial Gold Medal
* Ms. Kanu Priya Bharadwaj Memorial Award

Tell us about the on-campus and off-campus opportunities that a student is offered at the university that contributes to his/her holistic development and career?
The educational philosophy of the university gets translated into its somewhat unorthodox academic structure. Grounded in a faith in the unity of knowledge, JNU avoided the narrowly conceived department structures of conventional universities, preferring instead to bring allied disciplines within a few broad and inclusive parameters called schools, under whose interactive ambit are placed the more specialised units called centres. Currently, there are 10 schools and three special centres in the university. At the master’s level, where most of the schools begin their academic programme, training is largely oriented towards single disciplines (although all MA students are encouraged to do a few courses outside their subject) but at the research level the disciplinary boundaries become more permeable. Work in overlapping or borderline areas — e.g., between environment and history, economics and science, or physics and biology – is not uncommon among the PhD students of JNU. Not only are the research scholars encouraged to cross the invisible walls around disciplines, the relationship between the academia and the world outside also remains negotiable, often resulting in mutually beneficial collaboration in areas that form crossroads for developing an understanding of society, culture and science.

As in the academic structure, so in its teaching process and evaluation pattern, JNU departs from the well-trodden path by emphasising the continuity of the learning process rather than isolating the final exam as the only tool of measuring achievement. Grading is done throughout the semester, ensuring students’ participation and involvement in curricular work, and re-animating the collaborative process of generating knowledge in the classroom. Even at the MA level, students are encouraged to carry out independent research projects in limited areas which result in short term papers. At the MPhil and PhD levels the close relationship between the student and the supervisor adds an edge of excitement to research.

The university brings out four research journals which have high academic visibility in India and abroad. These are Studies in History, International Studies, JSL, the Journal of the School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies and Hispanic Horizons. Several members of the JNU faculty also edit national and international journals besides the above four.

How much emphasis is given to extra-curricular activities at JNU? Please mention some prominent achievements/initiatives in this regard.
The cultural clubs in JNU were formed to encourage creativity in students. The following clubs have been active in organising various cultural activities through a membership subscription. The clubs are helped by a coordinator, a faculty member who has experience and aptitude to help in organising the cultural activities. The clubs are: music club, film club, photography club, drama club, debating club, literary club, Unesco Club, nature wildlife club and fine arts club.

The clubs also coordinate cultural activities with the help of associations in the centres and schools. Each hostel organises its cultural night once in year, mostly in March. Sometimes, other cultural groups in Delhi hold programmes in the campus. The regional cultural associations in Delhi and outside also perform and add variety to the cultural activities in the campus. Students have their regional cultural associations which also organise cultural activities on special occasions.

Apart from these, the International Students’ Association also organises a host of activites such as the international food festival, Surajkund fair and Akshardham temple trip, freshers’ welcome party, International Mother Language Day and the Thai food festival.

The university also offers sports facilities in disciplines such as athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, chess, football, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, taekwondo, weightlifting, bench press, best physique, mountaineering, trekking and yoga.

Most popular programmes
All programmes being offered in the university are in demand as all of them are inter-disciplinary in nature and there is a variety of options of courses to be taken by the registered students. However, it has been observed during the last many years that the graduate-level language programmes of study being offered by the university are in demand and the candidates from far of places, especially, the backward areas, take the entrance examination for admission to BA (hons) in foreign languages, that is Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Russian and Spanish every year. In addition, we receive a large number of applications for MCA, MSc (biotechnology), MA (international relations) etc. Many foreign students are keen to study MA (international relations), political science, sociology and economics.