Published: 14th December 2018
Did JNU just cancel an online research product due to a lack of fund?
The screenshot of an email sent by an assistant librarian suggests that the library faces a paucity of funds. The financial officer denied a fund cut a few weeks back
A few weeks ago Heeraman Tiwari, the Financial Officer of Jawaharlal Nehru University issued a statement where he called the media reports that spoke about a fund cut in the library budget "baseless". At the same time, the screenshot of an email sent by the university's assistant librarian Shipra Awasthi, that is circulated online, however, refutes the statement. In the email, Awasthi says that library would discontinue the subscription of the Hein Online Database for the year 2019 due to the 'paucity of funds'.
Hein Online is an online research product with more than 100 million pages of legal history available with the fully-searchable, image-based format. It is one of the 27 databases available in the JNU library. An average student subscription of this database per week costs around $80, which means, a student will have to spend around Rs 300,000 for its yearly subscription. Now the cost for JNU to subscribe to this will be substantially high, considering the university's student population.
A month ago, the JNUSU alleged that the university's library budget was slashed by almost 80 per cent (From Rs 8 Crore to Rs 1.7 Crore). The union was allegedly told by the university admin that the UGC had denied funds to the library. This created a huge outcry by the students. Speaking to us then, N Sai Balaji, JNUSU President said that "the students will fight a Do or die battle against privatisation of education."
Tiwari issued a statement following this, where he said that the administration has written to the UGC for additional grants to ensure that the library's needs are met. "Reports that say that the annual budget for the Dr B R Ambedkar (Central) Library of JNU has been reduced from Rs 8 Crore to Rs 1.70 Crore are completely baseless," he said in the statement. But the JNUSU at the same time had denied all of Tiwari's claims.