The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Forum (JNUTF) on Saturday expressed disagreement and disappointment with vice-chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit’s recent appeal to modify the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) format for admission to postgraduate courses. JNUTF is a breakaway faction of teachers that dissociated from the elected teachers’ body, JNUTA, two years ago.
In a recent media interview, Pandit said multiple-choice question (MCQ)-based exams were not suitable for granting admission at the postgraduate level, especially in social sciences.
In a statement titled “Vice-chancellor’s collusion with agents of chaos” issued on Saturday, JNUTF said that the VC’s appeal had been made without deliberation and not backed by any substantial empirical data. “It is not only a premature submission but also a sign that the vice-chancellor has been appropriated by the Marxist group of intellectuals. She has been desperately trying to gain recognition by the Marxist group of scholars since the day she assumed office,” JNUTF president Milap Punia and secretary Nagendra Shreeniwas said.
Pandit said that she was “shocked and dismayed” by the teacher forum’s statement and that the body’s conduct was patriarchal and misogynistic. “I was raising a matter of academic discussion and did not approach the CUET per se. It has nothing to do with ideology. They have politicized the issue. First I was called a Savarkar-wadi and Godse-wadi, now I have been pushed to the other end of the spectrum. The statement is totally absurd. These people are misogynistic and patriarchal.
Pandit said that the university offers a diverse space and multiple ideas can be battled on the university campus. “The left is an idea, the RSS is also an idea. It is a battle of ideas and JNU offers that space to them. I raised the issue of MCQs and said that for social science, humanities and languages, we cannot have only quantitative tests. There has to be a qualitative assessment as well,” she said.
“Only a handful of teachers are behaving this way. They are saying I am against the government and the RSS. This is utter nonsense. They can’t tolerate a woman who can think for herself. They are going against their own prime minister by attacking a woman in this manner,” the VC alleged.
According to JNUTF, the VC had made a political statement aimed at achieving ulterior motives. It undermined the idea of national academic unity envisioned in the National Education Policy (NEP), they said. The teachers’ forum added that the VC’s statement amid ongoing exams confused JNU aspirants. While calling out the VC for speaking to the media about ways of conducting entrances, JNUTF said that Pandit could have communicated with the government instead.
Earlier this month, another teachers’ forum the JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) called for the reinstatement of the university’s regular admission process amid CUET delays. The JNUTA General Body said that the university’s reliance on the National Testing Agency (NTA) to conduct admission tests resulted in delays and disrupted regular teaching and learning. “The general body meeting demands that the University withdraws from the agreement with NTA and immediately restores JNU’s own time-tested admission procedures and institutional structures such as the Standing Committee on Admissions,” JNUTA’s resolution said.