An Appeal to the Alumni of JNU seeking help to 'SAVE JNU'

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This is an appeal to you from your fellow first - decade JNUites. Having gained much from the University, we are concerned at the way our Alma mater is being demonized and are sure that you would be too. This appeal is our heartfelt attempt in seeking your help to 'Save JNU'.

The excellence achieved by JNU in academics and other manifold domains as a publicly funded institution has enormously contributed to nation building and progressive social transformation. It has created precious human resources and leaders who are visible with their impactful presence in diverse areas of collective life at the national and international levels. The inter disciplinary study and research fostered in JNU since its inception has always been outstanding and it is occupying top most position as the institution of higher education in our country. Its vibrant student culture marked by clash of ideas and camaraderie cutting across gender, faith and linguistic domains is in tune with the articulation of Nehru that a University should be engaged in adventure of ideas and search for truth. The ideals of JNU in terms of its adherence to constitutional values and constructive dialogue inform the activities of generations of students who studied there and developed a holistic and wholesome worldview and are engaged in manifold prestigious persuasions across the globe. JNU as a nursery shaped the outlook of students, teachers and even Vice Chancellors who mounded its destiny. It was best manifested by the statement of President K R Narayanan who after demiting office stated that he learnt the art of leadership during his tenure as VC of JNU. The man who learnt the art of leadership in JNU eventually provided leadership to the Republic of India as its President. It testifies to the excellence of JNU in our national life. It is important to enrich this legacy and take it forward.

However it is is quite distressing and disheartening to note that Jawaharlal Nehru University is being persistently demonized with a calculated objective of demolishing its hard earned reputation and destroying its very ethos and culture as an excellent academic institution. Already a series of events arising out of decisions of authorities have very adversely affected the prestige and reputation of JNU and portrayed it negatively across the nation. Such erosion suffered by an educational institution of excellence like JNU because of continuing and uninterrupted blunders commuted by authorities spells doom for the cause of higher education across the country. There are numerous incidents involving sexual harassment of women students by several professors who have occupied influential academic and administrative positions in the University. In spite of well documented complaints against them they are firmly ensconced in their respective high positions such as professors, chairmen of Centres and Deans of Schools. The latest incidence of sexual harassment of women students by a professor of School of Life Sciences is a glaring and grave case which was discussed and reported in the mainstream and social media based on the complaints and FIRs filed by several students in the Vasant Vihar police station. The concerned students organised demonstrations before the police station demanding action against the professor. The graphic details of the complaints would make any body feel embarrassed and hang the head in shame. The concerned professor has been arrested and is out on bail. All complaints involving sexual harassment should have been dealt with as per Visakha judgement of the Supreme Court. But it is not being done so.

Being former students of this prestigious university you are well aware that every single student, teacher and administrative staff has come together to curb such incidents and demand punitive measures against the perpetrator of such crimes. It is highly distressing that authorities in stead of condemning the mounting incidence of sexual harassment and taking any punitive measures as per law and procedure against the offenders are displaying apathy to deal with the complaints. Effective action on their part would put a check on such incidents and ensure and safeguard the dignity and respect of students. Such actions of authorities would assure women students that JNU is safe and secure for them. It would send the message that by no stretch of imagination JNU would tolerate their harassment. It is a categorical imperative to stress that JNU has a zero tolerance policy towards such activities.

You must be aware of the huge demonstrations taken out by students and teachers of JNU to sensitise the public, society, Government and nation at large about the assaults on JNU and the rising incidence of criminal activities and sexual harassment of women. That unprecedented demonstration had the support of students and teachers of Delhi University as well. That peaceful demonstration organised after taking due permission of police authorities was to culminate near the Parliament. However it was stopped mid way and police resorted to unprovoked aggression by attacking the peaceful protesters with lathis and water canon. It is extremely tragic that women students and lady journalists were molested. The willingness of police authorities to tender apology to women journalists is indicative of the admission on the part of police for resorting to aggression and force on the peaceful protestors.

This is not a one-off incident which causes us to get alarmed. We painfully observe that for the past few years, JNU as an institution is being vilified and unfairly condemned and denigrated as a hub of anti-national activities, deviants, habitual offenders, sexual predators, traitors, anti-social elements and so forth. Some of the very bright students and outstanding teachers have been identified and selectively targeted for punitive action without any reason. Teachers who are globally acknowledged for their high caliber academic rigour are being issued show cause notice for joining students in their just struggle. JNU ethos evolved and got enriched by healthy exchange of views which encompassed in their scope points and counter points. It became a nursery for growth and advancement of multiple ideologies and philosophies. It was indeed a lively example of Tagore's exposition "Where the mind is without fear and where the head is held high, .... where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls". The inclusive identity of JNU and the coexistence of diverse approaches to truth and knowledge in campus defined JNU and determined its growth and advancement as a primer institution celebrating excellence and exchange of contrasting ideas without bitterness and acrimony.

All of you have had the privilege of studying in JNU and spending quality time to shape your mental faculty and consciousness through the research and study which was interdisciplinary in scope. The precious collegiate interaction you had in the class rooms of JNU and the larger and vibrant academic atmosphere creatively fashioned by generations of students, teachers and staff shaped your future, present identity and the larger consciousness. All of us have an individual and collective responsibility and duty to preserve, protect and defend it with all our might. It is a highly doable proposition. Taking into account your highly influential leadership profile, disposition and identity we sincerely request you to help stop this ongoing intense and all out onslaught on JNU and bring in remedial measures to salvage the situation. In saving JNU we can take a step to defend the ideals and statement of objects and reasons enshrined in the parliamentary statute which created this remarkable institution. In fact in defending and saving JNU we defend the law of the land which remains at the root of the foundation of JNU. Being distinguished alumni and citizens you can be role models for rest of us to defend and salvage JNU. We are beholden to you. Specific areas which merit serious attention and action are:

  1.  Action against teachers involved in the sexual harassment
  2. Withdrawal of cases against students and teachers
  3. Speed up process of identifying and punishing culprits whose actions led to the missing of Najeeb
  4. Restoring freedom to decide academic courses, implement deprivation points for admissions, academic schedules, pursuance of interdisciplinary study and research for students and teachers of the University, etc, which has made JNU the top most institution in the country.
  5. Restore the overall environment in the campus to enable free and unfettered pursuit of academics and academic excellence.
  6. Let the teachers and students decide on the need for compulsory attendance and other academic issues rather than make it an administrative diktat.

You are the distinguished alumni of JNU meriting attention and admiration for your manifold accomplishments in diverse fields. We appeal to you as Alumni who have passed out of the portals of JNU and have immensely benefited from it, taken up position of leadership within the government, to help restore, repair and reclaim the JNU ethos and glory. The coordinates of your impactful and influential position and leadership are such that you enjoy enviable locational advantage in appropriately advising those responsible within the government on the need for preserving this institution with all its attributes that have helped it evolve, grow and expand as an academia of rare eminence both within country and abroad. Any failure to save JNU would result in it becoming a pre-independent era University referring to which Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore had said that universities in British India were like hard boiled eggs which could never produce any chicken. It is time that we come forward to save and salvage JNU.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to read this appeal. We do hope that you will reflect on the role you can play in our effort to 'Save JNU'.

Thank you!