Published: 05th January 2019
How much did JNU spend on Sadhguru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar events?
The Students' Union, which has been upset that a lot of scholarships and library funds have been downsized, sought the answer to this question through an RTI query
How much did the Jawaharlal Nehru University spend on events where they hosted godmen Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of the Isha Foundation and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living? According to information obtained through an RTI query filed by the JNU Students' Union, the amount spent on both events was nearly 4.25 lakh, including a rather pricey air ticket of Rs 87,000 for the Art of Living founder.
As a result the Students' Union at Jawaharlal Nehru University has called for a two-day strike on January 8 and 9 after the RTI filed by JNUSU President N Sai Balaji showed the amount spent by the JNU VC and his associates on these two events.
While Ravi Shankar was invited to deliver the Nehru Memorial Lecture on November 13, 2017, Jaggi Vasudev delivered the same lecture a year later. It is pertinent to note that after the lecture, Ravi Shankar indulged in a separate event which was sponsored by ONGC to the tune of Rs 8.30 lakh. The administration spent Rs 2.3 lakh to host Sri Sri and Rs 1.19 lakh for hosting Sadhguru - who used the opportunity to speak as part of his Youth for Truth series.
The RTI response throws light on the fact that the institute spent this amount to host Sri Sri and Sadhguru at a time when the library's funding is being reduced by nearly 80 per cent library because the UGC doesn't have the grant to continue spending as much, and the varsity can't find the spare cash.
"JNUSU believes this must be the 'Pushpak Vimaan' which Hon'ble PM Narendra Modi spoke of at the National Science Congress. We have called the strike demanding the removal of the VC for financial misappropriation," says Balaji adding, "The RTI surprisingly reveals that ONGC spent Rs 8.3 lakhs additionally over the 2.3 lakh spent by JNU administration for Sri Sri's programme. The students' union is taken aback by the fact that ONGC, which is a science and technology-based company, spent huge amounts of public money on Babas who spread illogical and unscientific wisdom to people. Instead, ONGC could have brought books, funded scholarships to marginalised students to attend seminars, conferences and academic engagement."
This RTI report comes at a time when the JNU administration has already been broiled in controversy regarding the issue of a visually-challenged student Munesh, who failed in his Japanese exam as he alleged that the university denied him a scribe or studying material in Braille. "Students have already been protesting over Munesh's issue and now this comes to the forefront. The administration has been citing the lack of funds for every other problem but the RTI report doesn't showcase a similar picture. The VC administered 80 per cent fund cut to the library, till date he hasn’t completely disbursed Merit Cum Means scholarships to BA-MA students and increased spending on security by 89 per cent. We believe he's played a massive role in corruption and has been diverting money meant for seminars, conferences and academic engagements for the construction of statues in campus and for the renovation of homes and officers of senior officials," adds Balaji.