Published: 09th March 2022
JNU is a sociological island. It creates a delusion that everything is free: Santishree Pandit at #ThinkEdu2022
She also said that, "If we want to be the major global power, only intellectual narratives will do that"
Speaking at the tenth edition of ThinkEdu Conclave, Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Prof. Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, said that she wants to make the institution, which is number one in the country at the moment, 'viswaguru' at a global level. When questioned about the institution being in the news for the wrong reasons by Senior Journalist Kaveree Bamzai, she said that only a miniscule minority is in it. "Any institution will have such students. It is one of India's most inclusive and socially committed institutions with best research and academic programmes," she added.
Talking about the Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s opposition to the indocentric approach advocated by her, she said that JNU is known for democracy and diversity. "You can't have one hegemonic narrative. When the left says it is our way or the highway, they don't represent diversity or accept dissent. If you want co-existence of multiple narratives, you ought to have them and one of those is an indocentric narrative," she said.
"The Indian civilisation is the only one, other than China, to go into the fourth industrial revolution. We need a narrative that is different from the Abhrahamic or dichotomous narrative. For example, you take Ravana, who is revered as one of the greatest Shiva devotees. He had only a flaw. He had several other positives. We have to build a narrative to deal with such multi-faced people. Kannagi and Draupathi can be feminist figures and Sita can be one of the first single mother. If we want to be the major global power, only intellectual narratives will do that," she further explained.
About the changes she wanted to bring into the university, she said that almost 80 to 90 per cent of the students are not ideological and their most important demand was to increase the timing of one of the canteens. "The students also asked to improve the drinking water and toilet facilities. There should be recruitment as more than several hundred teaching and non-teaching posts are vacant. We want to make the campus gender-sensitive and even allow women Self-help Groups to run the dhabas. Creation of gender development index will help to assess gender equality in the campus," she added.
As far as handling volatile situations are concerned, she said that talking will help resolve the issues. "I have created a pantry near my office. First, I feed the students and faculty who come to meet me. By the time they are fed, they become cool-headed and we resolve issues through conversation. With respect to teachers, they want proper promotions and fasten the recruitment which we are trying to do," she said.
ThinkEdu 2022 is the grand tenth edition of what has consistently been India's biggest education conclave for a decade now. March 8 and 9 will see some stalwarts of India's academic, economic and political ecosystems bring ideas, ideologies and reflections on the past, present and future of India's education system. The sessions will be viewed by a live audience, in addition to the 2,750 registered users on the conclave's digital space. Over the last nine years, the conclave has seen some true stalwart thinkers such as former presidents Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr Pranab Mukherjee, MPs Jairam Ramesh, Smriti Irani, former CM of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, NITI Aayog's CEO Amitabh Kant and spiritual guide Sadhguru.