Teachers spreading false propaganda, says JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar
Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) vice chancellor (V-C) M Jagadesh Kumar on Wednesday alleged that a section of teachers were spreading misinformation to serve their “false propaganda”, days after JNU teachers association (JNUTA) alleged that the V-C had weakened the university’s unique character through “arbitrary” decisions.
Kumar said that if “anyone” claims that the university has not progressed in the last five years, “they are among the people who want to see the university get destroyed”. “There is a small set of faculty members who are indulging in all kinds of false propaganda to damage the image of the university. I think, time has come to tell them to focus on academics and all of us should work towards achieving excellence in our university,” Kumar told PTI.
The JNUTA on Monday had alleged that the delay in appointing the new V-C was “deliberate” in order to further extend Kumar’s term. The teachers’ body also said that for the first time in the history of the university, teaching staff salaries have been delayed by a month. It had also raised concerns over the changes in admission process, recruitment process and other functioning at the university under Kumar’s tenure.
Kumar’s five-year controversial tenure as the V-C officially came to an end on January 26, but the government has asked him to continue till a successor his found.
While he did not share as to by when a regular V-C will be appointed, Kumar said he will continue to hold office until a replacement comes. “The JNU Act states that the current vice chancellor will continue in office until a new vice chancellor takes over,” he said. “The executive council has to choose two experts, and they’re given to the ministry. We have done our job. So, whatever the process that takes place, that the ministry will take care of,” he said.
Rejecting concerns raised by the JNUTA about his tenure, Kumar said the governance system of the university had only strengthened in the last five years.
“If anybody is saying that this university has not progressed, they are misrepresenting, and it is only those people who want to see this university get destroyed…it is only those people who are spreading this misinformation.
“During the last five years, we have been following all university statutes, regulations and ordinances in letter and spirit. And we have also been following all the UGC notifications and rules. And this is what has strengthened the governance system in the university,” he said.
Responding to the JNUTA’s allegation that it was under him that the teachers did not receive their salaries on time, for the month of February, he said, “Yes, there was a delay of one day. Yesterday, all the staff members were issued their salaries. And today, we already have received the funds from UGC in our bank. And the salaries are being dispersed to everybody.” Kumar said that while he was welcoming of “dissent, and protests”, he is wary of spreading “false propaganda”.
According to Kumar, the admission process, which is being taken care of by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for the last few years, had made the exercise “transparent and accessible”. “In fact, as part of the National Education Policy, most of the entrance examinations in future will be conducted by the NTA. So, I fail to understand their logic, why they are (JNUTA) against JNU working with NTA to conduct the entrance examinations,” he said.
Talking about JNUTA’s opposition to the establishment of management and engineering colleges, the V-C said, the move was meant to “broaden the academic programs of the university”.
Kumar said that barring this “small cross-section of faculty members”, the entire student and teacher community of JNU “was appreciative of a large number of reforms that we have carried out, whether they are academic reforms, or administrative reforms”.
“We respect dissent, we respect protests. We want to provide every opportunity for them to freely express their opinions, but, there is a difference between people who are perpetually creating confusion by spreading false propaganda, and those who want to genuinely express their disagreement with something. So we need to separate these two. This university is known for debate discussion, and freedom of expression, and we will continue to protect that,” he said.
Reacting on the V-C’s statement, JNUTA secretary Moushumi Basu said, “JNUTA condemns this spin which is being manufactured by the V-C -- a few teachers bringing a bad name to the JNU. A large section of the faculty is opposing the arbitrary decisions taken by this V-C. Many issues raised by JNUTA are already declared illegal by the high court.”