The same forces that are hell bent on destroying JNU are giving it high ranking, says Umar Khalid

Union Minister for HRD, Prakash Javadekar had said that JNU didn't get ranking for Afzal guru and anti-India slogans but for good work done by students

The Union Ministry today released the countrywide university and college rankings in New Delhi. And guess what? Jawaharlal Nehru University, yes JNU, the same JNU that is popular for its “anti-national” students has ranked second among universities while IISc Bangalore was ranked first! Banaras Hindu University secured the third position.

However, seems like the students aren’t rejoicing much over the good news. Umar Khalid, who is a student of PhD, History, and was in news in February 2016 for allegedly raising anti-India slogans claimed that the same forces that are hell bent on destroying JNU are giving it such rankings!

“JNU as a university is acclaimed for its socially relevant and good quality research. The JNU student movement has a direct role to play in this. The movement has inculcated values of dissent and criticality and its central role in a democracy and at the same time has also ensured that the university remains socially inclusive – through its progressive admission policy – which reflects in the diverse demography of the students who come to study in JNU. In JNU, there is a large number of students from deprived backgrounds, oppressed castes, and under-developed regions who study here. Both these aspects – dissent, criticality as well as a socially inclusive university – have directly shaped the research that is produced in JNU and made it socially relevant. Students from deprived backgrounds bring their own lived experiences into their research, and the atmosphere of free thinking further provide them an opportunity to express themselves without fear of being branded anti-national, casteists or communal as the HRD ministry branded me or the Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula. But this fearlessness– which is the heart and soul of JNU – is under attack today and is being sought to be destroyed by the government, even as it doles out these rankings to JNU. The 83% seat cut in M.Phil/Ph.D courses is nothing but ironical that the regime is simply finishing off the same aspect of JNU for which it is being given such rankings,” he added.

Umar is not the only one who feels so.

“After 83% seat cut in research, I don’t feel proud of this ranking. I think that this is a ploy to destroy JNU by portraying that things are well in the university which is not true. Things aren’t going well since this vice chancellor has taken over. Every democratic fabric of the university is being destroyed. Then what this rank is for?” asks Sarfaraz Hamid, a student of Medieval History in JNU.

“JNU has, over the period of time, maintained the quality of research has had till now most progressive admission policy which helped students from marginalised section to get into this institution of higher learning. So yes, being a part of this institution, it gives me a sense of pride to see it at the top. But having said that, it’s also ironic that ranking comes from the same institution which has left no stone unturned in creating a roadblock in the path of JNU’s progress,” said Azhar Amim, an MPhil student who’s pursuing West Asian Studies at JNU.

However, it was obvious that our union minister Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar came well prepared before he made the announcement. “Jawaharlal Nehru and Jadavpur Universities didn’t get rankings for Afzal guru and anti-India slogans but for good work done by students,” taunted Javadekar.

The students had an answer to his taunt too!
“Javadekar’s comments prove that he has nothing but disdain for the values of dissent and criticality, and he knows nothing about JNU. As I said earlier, what has made JNU distinct from some other universities is its progressive student movement which has inculcated values of dissent and democracy and directly shaped our research. But today, through their jingoist propaganda and lies (which they want to pass off as ‘nationalism’), they want to stifle dissent by branding it anti-national, defame and suppress the students’ movement and destroy universities and higher education. Javadekar should know that the same people he is taunting are fighting, in the face of very adverse circumstances and threats, to save the universities, public education and research – that his government is hell bent on destroying,” said Umar.

I will just say that Javadekar himself answered his party people who were going gaga over the fact that these institutions are being run at taxpayers money. Yes, they are being run by the taxpayers and are also delivering at their best. The likes of JNU and JU are the premier institutions because they provide the requisite freedom for different ideas and thoughts to flourish. These are the places where minds are without fear. It is here where the dominant narratives of the state are questioned. Be it judicial killings, occupation, or the suppression of marginalised sections, JNU has raised its voice against all these issues and it also reflects in the kind of research that students do here,” added Azhar.

Seems like the students had the last laugh, isn’t it Mr Javadekar?