Published: 20th May 2021
Is there still a communication gap in JNU? Why the live session by VC and teachers are not solving the issues
The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, who is on extension now, chose some of the questions and answered them but they allegedly blocked some of the more vocal students
The Jawaharlal Nehru University organised a video conference yesterday, by way of doing a Facebook Live, to talk about the COVID situation on campus along with other issues. Even though it was promoted as an interactive session, the interaction was only through the comment box. But not everyone was allowed to comment. Some students complained that they have been blocked by the page and they are not able to comment or react to any comment. The students also alleged that instead of providing useful information about what to do or who to contact when someone's health deteriorates, the university is just focusing on projecting a positive image.
The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, who is on extension now, chose some of the questions and answered them but filtered questions from some of the more vocal students, others alleged. Apeksha Priyadarshini, a JNU Students' Union Councillor, said that she has been blocked from the official JNU page. "I simply can't see the space to comment or even react on other comments. I realised in the last meeting that I've been blocked," she said. There are others like Apeksha who have been blocked.
JNUSU President Aishe Ghosh said that even though she wasn't blocked, their questions are never answered. "Yesterday, people had so many questions about merit-cum-means scholarships and COVID isolation centres. But the VC did not address them properly," she said.
Even though the VC addressed these questions, his answers were mere reiterations of what has been said already. "They are trying to show the outside world that they are trying to do a lot by doing this session where they do not even address our questions properly. They just keep talking about having a positive approach. They put the entire onus of fighting against COVID-19 on us. Even if we let that go and accept that they don't want to comment on any central government policy, they should at least provide information. If there are some 500 odd students on campus and 10 of them have breathing trouble, what should they do, who should they contact, where do they get admitted in case of an emergency — these are the discussions that should happen in a live session," said Aishe.
JNU students, teachers and even parts of the media have been complaining for years on end that the VC does not talk to them. But this live session did not prove very helpful. Dr Kumar announced the fact that they are working with the local administration as if it was his decision whereas, in reality, he was only complying with Delhi High Court's order from last week which ordered the university to come up with COVID care facilities as soon as possible and work with the students, teachers and the district administration to do so. The university was heavily criticised for not doing anything till now. The teachers and students have been sending suggestions and the JNUTA Secretary Dr Moushumi Basu and some of the students even got in touch with the SDM and the MLA respectively. But from Dr Kumar's statement, it seemed as if they had almost no role to play.
Dr Kumar also complained that the media does not show them in a positive light. He said that a story should be balanced with both perspectives. "We bring out press releases. Please include them so that both the sides of the story are reflected," he said.
The major complaint most journalists had with them was that the administration does not reply to their queries. Are press releases the only form of communication? It will answer the questions the administration wants to answer. Nothing more.