Hostel brawl overplayed, says JNU VC – The New Indian Express

Express press service

NEW DELHI: Two weeks after a fight between two groups of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students for serving non-vegetarian food at a hostel during Ram Navami, Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit said the incident had been played too much, given that it happened in only one of the 17 hostels.

The Vice-Chancellor said life at the university was going on as normal and she was surprised to see the police presence on campus that day. “I was against calling the police on campus, but student groups filed separate complaints. The police are currently conducting their investigation, while we have also requested a procedural investigation. Let the investigators do their job,” she said.

The incident occurred on April 10, when members of a left-leaning student union accused Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists of not allowing non-vegetarian food service, citing the occasion of Ram Navmi. The ABVP responded that the other group would not allow a pooja to take place peacefully.
Following this blame game, a fight broke out between the group at dinner time. Several were taken to hospital after sustaining injuries.

However, the Vice Chancellor said, “JNU has no policy on what to eat or what not to eat, or what to wear or what not to wear. The university has nothing to do with hostels or messes. What should be cooked is decided by the students themselves. There are just different interpretations. She added, “Furthermore, I believe that every student is a JNUite first. Left, Right or Center, I don’t see them that way.

Speaking about the reforms she wants to bring to the university, Santishree said: “The first thing I want is for people to know that JNU is a nationalist institution. Although differences are there, JNU is among the best universities whether you like it or not.

She added that she wanted to modernize the infrastructure. “In addition, I plan to improve the university’s infrastructure and upgrade the 17 hostels on campus, especially kitchens and toilets. For 15 years, there has been no maintenance. The government sanctioned us 57 crore for maintenance. We also need to fill vacancies for 700 non-teaching staff and 350 teaching staff.

She said digitization is also among her priorities. “We plan to transform the university into a digital university, where the best of our faculties and students can take courses online, as Harvard University does. Courses may be free for Indians, while foreign students may be charged. And in this way, JNU can earn income. We currently have a 132 crore deficit so we will see what all can be done with the money we have.

The Vice-Chancellor also mentioned the establishment of the Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Center on the university campus, which will carry out research on reducing social and economic inequalities.

Succeeding Ms. Jagadesh Kumar, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, 59, joined Jawaharlal Nehru University as the first female Vice-Chancellor on February 9, 2022. Since then, she has been shrouded in controversy bordering on her ideological credentials. In an interview with Ifrah Mufti, the VC shares how “his credentials are much better than the Marxists who had problems with his joining as VC.

Do you agree that you have an ideological baggage?
I do not think so. Some people wanted to project me as a Hindu with the bias of the Hindi language. I come from a state where Hindi is not even accepted. My father is Tamil, my mother is Telugu and I was born in Russia. So I think I have better credentials than most Marxists. I didn’t know who Godse was until I was 26 and married a Maharashtrian. I would have written about Savarkar but not about Godse. In terms of Muslims and Christians, let me say that I studied in a convent school. I have a lot of respect for these communities. Most of my students are Muslims. There were objections to the powers that be because I became VC with the endorsement of a government they don’t like. They were also surprised because of my gender. I am a Tamilian averse to the so-called Manuwad.

Does the university have enough funds currently?
No. The university lacks funds. There are limits to what the government can do, so I try to be a bit more innovative. I want to opt for public-private financing instead of loans because we cannot repay. The funds we get have not been collected. They gave us Rs 48 crore but we have an outlay of nearly Rs 110 crore. We have contract staff, including gentlemen, and when
the fund is drying up, they are the ones who are the most affected. For four months their salary was not paid and they went on strike. I had to embezzle funds from the academic reserve.

You were a member of the UGC committee on higher education. How do you come to UGC’s decision not to allow students to visit Pakistan for higher education and then CBSE’s decision to remove some chapters on Mughals and remove Faiz’s poetry?
I think it was done at the highest level. They didn’t consult any of us. I won’t comment on what prompted their decision because I don’t know. I would rather say that knowledge must be free wherever it comes from. Also, I don’t know who sits on these boards to decide whether to drop the topics.

What are the state-of-the-art labs recently inaugurated on campus used for?
Two such laboratories have been opened at the Special Center for Molecular Medicine and the School of Physical Sciences of JNU with the aim of developing early diagnostic markers for different diseases. These laboratories are made by a private philanthropist on an American model. The government now has 54 central universities and we have to share the money. Therefore, we must opt ​​for public-private financing.

Linda G. Ibarra