Jawarlal Nehru University, an institution known to house radical and dissented perspectives is making another round of headlines by holding the convocation ceremony for its PhD students for the first time ever after 46 years.
The reason behind the gap
The first and only convocation ceremony was held in 1972, where noted actor Balraj Sahni gave his famous address. During the ceremony, the then-President of the student union, VC Koshy, swayed away from the speech approved by the Dean and made remarks against the administration and the ceremony itself. “Events such as convocation were a sheer wastage of taxpayers’ money—they should be dispensed with and the money diverted for the students’ welfare,” he addressed the crowd.
Following this controversy, annual convocations were discontinued until recently. “All research scholars, who have completed the requirements for the PhD degree, between 01.01.2017 and 30.06.2018 are eligible for the conferment of PhD degree at the Convocation”, the university website announced.
Divide in opinions
While this might seem like harmless information, it has further embroiled the administration-student gap. The alumni took to twitter sharing their perspective.
— KM Gupta ??? (@ByMallikarjuna) January 24, 2018
Should read as: JNU admin destroys admissions process and introduces convocation to mark their success in “cleansing” JNU of current, politically astute students while preventing new admissions. https://t.co/JuYy8hcFdr — Meghna Chaudhuri (@mformanic) July 7, 2018
S.C. Garkoti, Chairperson of the committee responsible for managing the event said to the media, “Why should our students just submit their PhD theses and disappear?” and added, “Convocation is not bad for students, why should they take it otherwise? It is part of a university system, we don’t expect opposition to it.”
“Somebody is trying to codify the liberal tradition of JNU and put a stamp of authority on it. That’s not acceptable to students. We are not a teaching school, but a research centre. Students are as good as professors, why not consult them?”, an anonymous doctoral student reported to Live Mint. They further added that “the fear is the convocation may be laced with saffron ideology.”
“The vice-chancellor is making constant efforts to destroy the very ethos of inclusive education,” said Anubhuti Sharma, another PhD student observed. “He has reduced student intake at the doctoral level and has imposed restrictions on students’ movement. Free space and free speech are shrinking on the campus. The convocation is a mere spectacle of his desire to pose as the hollow benefactor of JNU students.”
JNU Student Union President, Geeta Kumari, said they did not have a problem with holding a convocation “but it depends on who they call as the guests”.
Featured Image Credits: JNU