The JNU VC Needs To Go Before He Destroys JNU

HOW to explain why JNU students and faculty want the current JNU VC Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar to go? JNU right now is basically going through its Harry Potter ‘Order of the Phoenix’ (Book 5) phase.   

Jagadesh Kumar is to JNU what Dolores Umbridge was to Hogwarts.   

Umbridge was appointed by the Ministry to surveil and destroy Hog-warts, Jagadesh Kumar is appointed by the Modi Government to do the same to JNU.

Like Umbridge, Jagadesh Kumar is the instrument for the “Minis-try/Government to interfere at Hogwarts/JNU.” Umbridge had her Inquisi-torial Squad comprising hand-picked students, the current JNU VC’s In-quisitorial Squad is the ABVP, a small cabal of administrators, and faculty members he is appointing in violation of all rules and norms.

Umbridge revelled in punishments for dissenting and defiant students who fought to defend the spirit of Hogwarts, Jagadesh Kumar hands out fines and rustications and show-cause notices to the students (and even fac-ulty) who defend the spirit of JNU.

Umbridge issued draconian ‘Educational Decrees’ every other day; Jagadesh Kumar issues farmaans via circulars every other day. Umbridge interfered with teaching at Hogwarts, reducing teaching to rote-learning from ‘Ministry-approved’ books; Jagadesh Kumar is interfering with long-standing practices of teaching and evaluation at JNU.   

Like Umbridge, the JNU VC is at war with the institution he heads, with the very spirit of learning and questioning, and with the teachers and stu-dents who are the heart and soul of a school/University. He is demolishing in days, the institutions and practices that JNU pioneered and nurtured over decades.

Umbridge faced resistance from everyone from Peeves to the students and teachers at Hogwarts; Jagadesh Kumar is facing all-round resistance from JNU faculty and students alike.   

We have a Government that talks of ‘Make in India’. JNU is one of the cen-tres of learning that was truly ‘Made in India’, and nurtured thousands of scholars, bureaucrats, journalists, writers, activists, and politicians, many of whom were first-generation learners or from very deprived back-grounds and regions. Today, JNU and other Universities like JNU, are in danger of being destroyed to make way for the ‘Reliance Jio’ type institu-tions that buys ‘Eminence’ from the PMO, and charge several lakhs from each student in fees.  

What all has the JNU VC already destroyed? He has destroyed a huge number of MPhil/PhD seats; decimated constitutionally mandated SC/ST and OBC reservation (to a mere 20.75% of the total seats); JNU’s unique system of deprivation points t the MPhil/PhD level; and the JNU GSCASH which was a model for the whole country. JNU now has the shame of being an institution that is protecting a professor (Atul Johri) who is accused by eight women students of sustained sexual harassment.

The JNU VC, by proposing to take a hefty ₹515-crore loan from the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA), is shackling future generations of students to steep fees and privatisation which will exclude those from de-prived backgrounds.        

Umbridge-like, the JNU VC behaves like a petty tyrant with utter con-tempt, disrespect, and distrust for JNU scholars (both faculty and students), and for democratic decision-making processes. In a University where stu-dents love to study and teachers love to teach, and where two-hour classes stretch to four or five hours, and where research students spend weeks in libraries and at field-work, the VC has imposed compulsory signing of at-tendance sheets on students and teachers! Biometric attendance is being in-troduced for teachers. The actual views and rules of Academic Council meetings are ignored, minutes are fabricated, and the VC’s whims become ‘decrees’ without any ratification from the decision-making body. Deans and Chairpersons who try to cite the rules and procedures of JNU are summarily removed from their posts. Appointments of new faculty are done in violation of all rules.

The VC refuses to meet students and teachers and instead prefers to com-municate through punitive circulars, fake news via social media, media, and the police! The last two years has seen a continuous witch-hunt of stu-dents and teachers of the university. Protest spaces have been banned and a record number of students including JNUSU members have been subject-ed to innumerable punishments. Posters - which used to express JNU’s di-verse voices on the campus walls in all colour and beauty - are no longer allowed - JNU’s walls have been silenced. Public meetings are held on per-il of possible punishment.   

Perhaps the worst, saddest casualty of this VC’s style of functioning is an innocent student - Najeeb. This is a VC who has not bothered to show any empathy for Najeeb’s mother who is desperately trying to find her son who disappeared in broad daylight from the campus after being assaulted by an ABVP mob the previous night.

JNUSU and JNU students have support-ed Najeeb’s mother at every step, in every Court hearing - while the VC and his team have chosen to protect Najeeb’s assailants from facing any punishment, and from being questioned about his disappearance.  

In an unprecedented and shocking way, the JNU VC has chosen lawyers to represent JNU, who openly spew hatred against JNU’s faculty and stu-dents! JNU’s standing counsel, Monika Arora (a former ABVP leader and BJP candidate), speaking at a programme organised by a ‘Group of Intel-lectuals and Academicians’ on ‘urban Naxalism’ held recently in Hansraj college, Delhi University, said that “the group has been working to expose teachers allegedly working as ‘Urban Naxals’. “Ek zor lagana hai, inko poora nikaalne ke liye… Kerala, media aur JNU mein hi toh baaki hain (We just have to push a little harder and kick them all out … They only remain in Kerala, the media and JNU).” The JNU VC picks a JNU-hater who openly brands JNU teachers as “urban Naxals” and boasts of surveil-ling and “kicking them out”, to represent JNU in Court! No wonder, the JNU VC has repeatedly been rapped on the knuckles by the Delhi HC - on punishments for students without basis including denying them registra-tion and submission of PhDs, and on coercive measures in the name of “compulsory attendance.”       

Contrary to the media picture of JNU, the struggle in JNU now is not “Left vs Right.” Our problem with the JNU VC is not because his ideas differ from ours - it is because he is out to kill any ideas and institutions that do not fit his ideology and that of his masters.

JNU’s Umbridge must go!  

(First published in National Herald)