“Minority institutions are often seen as ‘political constituencies’ and not as ‘academic institutions’”

The teachers at Jamia Millia Islamia want an academic and not a civil servant as their Vice-Chancellor this time round. The teachers’ union has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to intervene and ensure that an academic fills the post left vacant by the recent elevation of IAS officer Najeeb Jung to the post of Delhi’s Lieutenant-Governor.

The teachers said minority institutions like Jamia are often seen as “political constituencies” and not in their true nature as “academic institutions”. They said this is in direct contrast to other universities where Vice-Chancellors are appointed only through their merit and experience as academics. The absence of a students’ union in Jamia is also pointed out in the letter.

“Denial of basic democratic rights to students of Jamia is yet another example of differential treatment. Elected student unions in Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University are rightly treated as institutions necessary for promoting and safeguarding the constitutional rights of the students.

The same is consistently being denied to the students of Jamia. Under highly indefensible and illogical grounds, they are not allowed to have their elected student unions. Is it not a selective application and interpretation of democratic rights? I fail to understand the logic of this unequal treatment of equal institutions of higher learning. This approach has adversely affected the academic growth of these universities,” said the letter signed by the union president M.S. Bhatt.

“If a university professor cannot become a police commissioner of Delhi or a divisional forest officer, how is it that a civil servant or a police/military officer is invariably deemed qualified to lead and guide the intellectual and academic growth of a university like Jamia. It amounts to putting a square peg in a round hole,” said the letter.

The letter added what the teachers are requesting is only what the University Grants Commission prescribes for the appointment of V-C. The qualifications which are prescribed are also spelt out: “Persons of the highest level of competence, integrity, morals and institutional commitment are to be appointed as V-C . The V-C to be appointed should be a distinguished academician, with a minimum of 10 years of experience as a professor in a university system or 10 years of experience of equivalent position in a reputed research or academic administrative organisation.”

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