JNU nominates Madhu Kishwar to its Academic Council as School of Arts expert, Dean objects

Scholar-activist Madhu Kishwar has reportedly said that she was unaware of her nomination and that she had not applied for the same.

Scholar-activist Madhu Kishwar has been nominated to the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) Academic Council (AC). She was nominated by Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, and will now represent the School of Arts and Aesthethics (SAA) as an outside expert for two years.

According to an Indian Express report, as an AC member, Kishwar will have the power to decide on matters related to JNU’s academic policies. The university will hold its 143rd AC meeting today.

The report suggested that Kishwar was sent an official letter on May 3 to attend the meeting which is expected to debate changes in the university admissions policy including deep cuts in MPhil and PhD seats.

Kishwar, founding editor of Manushi, is a graduate of Miranda House and JNU and has widely researched and written on issues of gender and politics. In 2014, she published Modi, Muslims and Media: Voices from Narendra Modi’s Gujarat.

The move to appoint Kishwar hasn’t gone down well with a section of the faculty, including the Dean of SAA. Some teachers criticised Kishwar’s nomination saying her name was not among the list of experts provided by the School to the VC.

Spreaking on thw issue, SAA Dean Bishnupriya Dutt reportedly said that they were given a letter asking to suggest names of experts pertaining to the discipline. They had sent six names of people who were prominent in the field of arts. Her (Kishwar’s) name wasn’t part of the list because she has nothing to do with the study of the arts.

“We are very confused and bewildered why the names sent by us were rejected and somebody who has no connection with our discipline was selected. It has never happened before in the 17 years of this school’s existence. I am sure they have a logical explanation for this,” Dutt added.

Following the uproar, Madhu Kishwar reportedly said that she was unaware of her nomination and that she had not applied for the same.

On the Dean’s criticism she said that she has made several documentaries, presently she is also working on a book on Bollywood, as well as a book and film on India’s traditional art performers. I have also written countless film reviews. “Not that I care about the uproar but they should at least look at my CV before they speak nonsense,” said Madhu Kishwar.

Earlier, art critic B N Goswami; art historian Tapti Guha Thakurta; and, most recently, Ravi Vasudevan from the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), a film studies scholar, have represented SAA in the AC.