The JNU administration, as a senior faculty member told this reporter, has lost its sanity. It doesn’t know what it is doing. To begin with, in a mood of denial, it saw the ‘successful’ conduct of the end semester examinations across different schools and centres. To quote a circular issued by the JNU Registrar on December 12, ‘ it was appreciated that the end semester examinations scheduled on 12th Decamber were conducted in several schools and centres.’ Again, in yet another circular issued on December 14, it was mentioned that ‘as per the academic calendar the end semester examinations have to be completed during 12th December and 20th December.’ And now the same administration is saying that the exam will be held online. Is it the symptom of the madness that characterizes the JNU administration? In fact, the resolution adopted at the JNUTA GBM held on December 16 states categorically:
“That such an unbelievably out-and-out mockery of what is supposed to be a serious academc exercise can even be conceived by the JNU admnistration under his leadership speaks about how unfit Professor Jagadesh Kumar is to head an institution of higher learning.”
Yes, the students are united in their struggle against the new hostel manual and the fee hike. In the absence of any meaningful and fruitful conversation between the administration and the students, the university continues to be in turmoil. While the students are boycotting the end semester examination, the administration is perpetually threatening them through all sorts of circulars. And now , as it is reported, it has decided to conduct the end semester examination online. In fact, the Dean of the School of International Studies has already directed the Chairpersons to instruct the course teachers to send the question papers to the students through email/WhatsApp; and the students are required to submit their answers before December 22.
Possibly, there are two reasons why the administration has thought of this strategy. First, this is to use the teachers to legitimize the examination; once they send the question papers online, the administration can always say that the examination has been held, and even if the students refuse to cooperate, they can be ‘failed’ in this hypothetical examination. Second, this is the last weapon the administration is using to divide and demoralize the students, and generate fear amongst them.
In fact, this idea of online exam is absurd. As a reserach scholar from the School of International studies said, it trivializes the entire academic culture of the university. Here, the courses are pretty rigorous, and a professor tries to retain a high standard; but then, as he told us, the present move by the administration is not only ridiculous; it is an insult to the teachers, their hard work and pedagogy. It shows the intensity of the damage a stubborn Vice Chancellor with his inflated ego can cause to one of the finest universities in the country.
In fact, the JNUSU has reacted sharply to this absurd proposal. To refer to a statement issued by the JNUSU,’the VC is obsessed with a single minded focus to conduct farcical exercises in the name of examination when the boycott call is unanimous. The VC is now planning for making these exams online centric through submissions which reflects the utter failure of his coercive tactics to force students to return to an artificial normalcy’.
At this juncture, the real challenge that confronts the teachers is whether they can take a strong moral as well as academic position, and oppose this mockery of conducting the end semester examination through WhatsApp. If for their own ‘safety’, they become part of this filthy process, they, as a retired Professor told us,would not only betray their students; they would also degrade themselves, and trivialize the culture of teaching and research that distinguishes this iconic university.