'VC controls the mute button', JNUTA slams VC for authoritarian 'diktak' on CUCET

In a statement released after the CUET was formally adopted for admission in JNU, the JNUTA has criticised the VC, Prof M Jagadesh Kumar, for steamrolling over the opinions of various centres
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

The Jawaharlal Nehru University Academic Council's decision to adopt the Common Universities Entrance Test (CUET) has not gone down well with the varsity's faculty. The JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) had put out a statement on January 11 requesting the Council to reconsider its position on adopting the CUET without enough deliberation with the varsity's various centres.

After the 159th Academic Council's ruling to officially adopt the CUET from the academic year 2022-23, on Wednesday, January 12, the JNUTA released a statement condemning the "sham" adoption of the CUET. The agenda for the meeting was circulated only on the evening of January 10 and the faculty members claim that this gave them barely any time to discuss and deliberate on the issue. "They say that the decision to adopt was already taken in a meeting in March 2021. However, if you look at the papers, it was only a committee that had suggested the adoption of the CUET. And now they have just quoted this suggestion and said that the decision was already taken. It is a complete sham," says Moushumi Basu, Secretary, JNUTA.

"The Vice Chancellor, Prof M Jagadesh Kumar, selectively orchestrated the discussion on the CUET, which was sent as an additional Agenda Item on January 10, 2022, by stating that a decision on the matter had already been taken in the 157th meeting of the Academic Council. This, however, is not true. A perusal of the minutes of the 157th meeting of the Academic Council clearly shows that this was not even listed on the agenda of that meeting. It was only part of one of the several recommendations of the advisory committee on admissions which recommended that “in case of receiving any direction from MoE/UGC, the University will accordingly adopt and admit students through CUET”. This clearly means that the adoption of the CUET was not done in the 157th meeting of the Academic Council," said the JNUTA in a statement, accusing the VC of 'bulldozing' his diktat once again.

For its part, the JNU Academic Council has 'deplored' the 'misinformation spread by the faculty' in this regard and has said that the decision will create a level playing field for the students, and will 'reduce the burden of taking multiple exams' on students. In a press note, the JNU said that the council had "overwhelmingly endorsed" the shift from the JNU Entrance Exam to the CUET and will admit students via the common entrance test whenever it is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) this year.
The faculty is concerned about the interdisciplinary courses, which they claim are unique to the centres at JNU. "A good number of departments are interdisciplinary, and the courses are demand-based. This gives the NTA and the administration the power to cancel courses. They'll say there's no demand for Social Science courses," says Basu.

Accusing the council for passing the matter without "any discussion whatsoever", JNU Professor Ayesha Kidwai accused JNU Vice-Chancellor Dr Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar of adopting his "usual strategem of stealth". She went on to say that the unique nature of some of the programmes offered by the varsity make it impossible for them to be up for evaluation along with varsities from across the country. "Will that mean that these programmes will be wound up? Are we being pushed to follow the other UGC letter that asks universities to offload degree programmes that the UGC deems useless?" she asked in the Facebook post.

The teachers are also complaining against what they call an authoritarian move by the Caretaker VC when he allegedly muted speakers who raised concerns against the CUET, and also muted an honourable guest member who questioned the VC's censoring of the faculty. "This is now how JNU functions," says Basu, adding, "Each centre has an autonomous way of functioning. We have always been asked that any decision should be deliberated. The CUET will be regressive."

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