JNU students' hunger strike against UGC notification enters 9th day
Ghazanfar Abbas, IndiaTomorrow.net,
New Delhi, Feb 01: Demanding the rollback of University Grants Commission’s (UGC) May 2016 notification on MPhil/PhD admissions, JNU students have continued hunger strike on 9th day today. Terming the UGC notification obnoxious and intended to lead social discrimination, students have expressed their apprehensions.
UGC Notification of May 2016
As per the UGC gazette notification of last year for the admission in M.Phil/PhD in central universities in the country, the final merit list for admissions will be based on the marks obtained in viva-voce and the written entrance test will be qualifying only.
According to this notification, candidates will have to go through two stages -1) An Entrance Test that shall be qualifying with qualifying marks as 50% and 2) an interview/viva-voce to be organized by the institution when the candidates are required to discuss their research interest/area through a presentation before a duly constituted Department Research Committee.
Besides this, a Research Supervisor/Co-supervisor who is a Professor, at any given point of time, cannot guide more than three MPhil and eight PhD scholars. An Associate Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of two MPhil and six PhD scholars and an Assistant Professor as Research Supervisor can guide up to a maximum of one MPhil and four PhD scholars.
The notification was adopted by the Academic Council of JNU amid protests by many of its members and students on December 26 last year.
Students’ Objections and Apprehensions
Students are apprehended that if this notification is implemented there will not just be a massive cut in seats for M.Phil/PhD, the students will also face discrimination on various backgrounds too.
The JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) said this was anathema to what was proposed by the Abdul Nafey Committee, which had recommended a reduction in weightage in viva voce (interview) from 30 per cent to 15 per cent.
Before the UGC notification came, the entrance test and viva voce were given weightage of 70 and 30 per cent respectively.
"We are being pushed towards 100 per cent viva-based admission process. It will open the doors for 100 per cent discretion, discrimination and favoritism in admissions," said JNUSU president Mohit K Pandey.
Speaking to IndiaTomorrow.net, Satarupa Chakraborty, general secretary of JNUSU who is on hunger strike along with a dozen students, said: “This notification has various problematic aspects. The JNU’s internal committee has recognized 100% Viva as a subjective bias. It means a large number of students from marginalized sections will be excluded.”
“This decision was arbitrarily taken by the varsity. JNU VC who is also a member of UGC and officiating chairman of UGC is not taking up this issue to the UGC and trying to push this agenda through back door. We have gone to UGC two times and the UGC officials have refused to meet us, we will go to the Ministry now and after that will go ahead with a referendum demanding the resignation of VC,” she told.
Another student on hunger strike, Faisal Quraishi, who is pursuing Masters in International Relations, said, “We see this is as a direct attack on higher education and as an attempt to incorporate elite stake mindset by the current establishment.”
“The seats available will be curtailed. And there will be bias in the Viva. It will adversely affect students supposedly who are not well versed in English or those who have particular identity,” said Quraishi.
“The UGC notification is nefarious. It should be rolled back with immediate effect,” he demanded.
Will look into your concerns, JNU administration assures students
On 30th Jan, the seventh day of the hunger strike, Vice Chancellor Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar and other senior officials held a detailed meeting with the students who are on hunger strike. The students were assured that the administration would look into all their concerns regarding the JNU Admission Policy.
“The University stands by social justice and reservation policy, and has been seeking to bring more transparency in the admission procedure. The administration also assured to look into their concerns about the new M.Phil/Ph.D Admission Policy by bringing the matter to the notice of the UGC,” the university said in a statement on Monday.
“They were intimated that Standing Committee on Admissions would meet tomorrow and discuss all their concerns, including marks for written test and viva-voce, deprivation points and intake of students, etc within the framework of UGC Regulations, 5 May 2016, related to M.Phil/Ph.D admissions,” said the JNU administration.
The administration has also urged the students to immediately call off their strike.
However, the students seem unimpressed by the assurance and have vowed to continue the hunger strike until the notification is withdrawn.
“This is violation of university norms and social justice. So will continue our indefinite hunger strike till our demands are met,” Shweta Raj, a PhD student sitting on hunger strike said.