Published: 06th September 2019
It's like taking back Nobel: Former JNU VC on letter to emeritus professors
Dr Asis Datta, the former Vice-Chancellor of JNU, said that he has never heard of evaluation of an emeritus professor's post
Padma Bhushan Dr Asis Datta, one of the 12 emeritus professors who have been asked to submit their CVs by the Jawaharlal Nehru University for evaluation in order to decide whether they should continue as emeritus professors or not, had written to the university stating that he has not occupied a room or received remuneration from JNU as emeritus professor and asked why he should be sending in his CV.
"I did not avail any facilities (like room, table, chair, laboratory etc) from JNU after retirement as I had already joined National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) as the Founder Director. Whatever, the facilities I was availing before retirement I had transferred the same to JNU," the professor wrote to the Registrar on July 22.
“I visit the University to interact with the faculty and students and to discuss science which has been my life long quest,” said the professor. He added his work involves being in close contact with the best scientists in the world including Nobel Laureates and the universities they belonged to. He had not so far come across situations where scientists who were given an honour having to continuously provide proof that they can retain that honour. This is like withdrawing the Nobel if the recipient was thought to be doing not enough good work a decade or two later.
Dr Datta is the former Vice-Chancellor of JNU and has also held the office of Rector earlier. The JNU Teachers' Association said that he has been taken aback by this step of the JNU administration “as the position is honorary and is given for life”, as per the Rules and Regulations of the University, under clause 17(II).
Dr Datta had given up a tenured job in the US to join JNU in the 1970s, its initial years of formation. He very quickly became a scientist of note winning one prestigious award after the other — Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Biological Sciences by the CSIR, Government of India (1980), Third World Academy Award (TWAS) for Biology (1996), Padma Shri (1999), Padma Bhushan (2008) — and getting critical patents to his name. He presided over the Indian Science Congress in 2004. After a tenure in JNU, he went on to be the founding Director of the National Institute for Plant Genome Research.