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Unformatted text preview: COMMENTARY Economic & Political Weekly EPW JUNE 26, 2010 vol xlv nos 26 & 27 27 Caste Injustice in Jawaharlal Nehru University Santhosh S, Joshil K Abraham Be it in the implementation of a University Grants Commission guideline on reservation for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes in faculty positions, or in the matter of providing justice to student victims of caste prejudice and violence, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) administration has shown a regressive attitude that belies its progressive image. T he Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU ), New Delhi, is considered to be one of the most progressive campuses in India and a bastion of radical politics. Given its iconic status (should we call it the brand value), other institutions of higher education often try to emulate it. Yet, a closer look at the functioning of JNU shows us that it is no better than most con- servative campuses in the country. A case in point is the implementation of reser- vations both in faculty appointments and in student admissions. UGC Guidelines Following the “ UGC Guidelines for Strict Implementation of Reservation Policy”, the Executive Committee ( EC ) of the JNU decided in 2007 to implement reser- vation for the scheduled castes ( SC s) and scheduled tribes ( ST s) at the level of asso- ciate professors and professors and reser- vation for Other Backward Classes ( OBC s) at the level of assistant professors. Yet, within two years, the JNU administration found ways of subverting its own 2007 decision. In 2009, the JNU advertised for 149 faculty positions. The anti-reservation lobby in the campus got active and the selection process was virtually frozen. There were student demonstrations, cut- ting across the political spectrum from far left to the far right, poster campaigns, and pamphleteering in favour of the im- plementation of reservation along the lines of the UGC guidelines. The JNU Teachers Association also took a position in favour of implementing reservations. But the JNU EC meeting convened in April 2010, as a way of delaying – if not derail- ing – the implementation of reservations, chose to seek further legal advice from the solicitor general of India – a sugges- tion which originated from the vice chan- cellor himself. The arguments of the anti-reservation lobby in the JNU merit attention. In a l etter sent to the JNU Executive Council in November 2009, 30 faculty members claimed: Considering that this step [implementing Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes reservations above the level of Assistant Professors] has very serious implications for the long term academic development of this premier University, the EC should reconsider its decision… This alarmist claim has received its en- dorsement from others too. In a note sub- mitted to the vice chancellor of JNU , the former vice chancellors and emeritus pro- fessors such as Y K Alagh, T K Oommen and Bipin Chandra, argued, If steps are taken which prevent it [...
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