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All for discussion, but not arguments: JNU Vice Chancellor

Author: PTI
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 26, 2017
URL:   http://indianexpress.com/article/india/all-for-discussion-but-not-arguments-jnu-vice-chancellor-4675477/

Students and teachers have been protesting over issues, such as the disappearance of Najeeb Ahmed, seat cuts and allegations that minutes of the 142nd Academic Council meeting were tampered with.

JNU Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar has said he welcomes “open-minded discussions” to end hostilities between the administration and students who have been accusing the varsity of framing “anti-student” policies.

Talking to PTI, the VC said he preferred to have discussions — and not arguments –with students to find solutions to contentious issues.

“The Objective of a discussion is to find what is right, whereas in arguments, the objective is to point out who is wrong,” Kumar said.

Arguments that hold on to a single point of view will not lead to solutions, especially when the administration is focussing on creating more facilities for students and faculty besides “working to excel academically” with limited resources, he added.

Students and teachers have been protesting against the administration in the recent past over multiple issues –such as the disappearance of JNU student Najeeb Ahmed, seat cuts for M.Phil and PhD programmes and allegations that minutes of the 142nd Academic Council (AC) meeting, held recently, had been tampered with.

The latest to protest was an Assamese student, who rapped a song expressing dissent.

The video with the song went viral on the social media.

Speaking on a range of issues, Kumar asserted that all procedures were being followed in AC meetings.

“All the procedures, including seeking views from every member, are followed in a professional way. There is no tampering done and all the minutes are made public once a particular meeting has been concluded,” he said.

He added that in an institution such as JNU, it was “quite natural” that some people might not agree with certain decisions.

“But ultimately decisions are taken keeping in mind what is good for the varsity in the long run,” he said.

Referring to seat cuts, he explained that the regulation of the University Grants Commission had to be followed by the varsity for improving the quality of research work.

“Comparing seats allotted for M.Phil and Ph.D programmes in the previous years with the present year is not a fair one. We cannot have 60 students under one professor and make it look like a classroom,” Kumar said, pointing out that the top institutes had a better student-teacher ratio.

Responding to allegations of being inaccessible to students, he said he was available – without appointments – to all students on the first Monday of the month, and to faculty on the third Thursday every month.

“A lot of students do meet me on these days, apart from those who interact with me seeking appointments,” he said.

Reacting to the appointment of V K Saraswat as new Chancellor of JNU, Kumar said that the former DRDO chief would be able to guide the university and provide it with inputs for moving forward.
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