India’s premiere institute of learning, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is now facing massive protests from the student community for flouting reservation rules of the country. India provides the right to reservation for Scheduled Caste (SC) Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBC) in education and employment. Statistics now show that JNU has been violating these rules.
JNU was under the glare of media when students of the university took out massive rallies in the city over a number of issues including sexual harassment by a professor by the name Atul Johri. While Atul Johri case had students speaking up about the misogynistic environment in which women research scholars were made to pursue their studies, the flouting of reservation rules by JNU has revealed the denial of education to Dalits and other marginalised sections of India.
According to the statements from students and documents released on social media by them, in 2017-2018, out of the 42 programmes of study advertised by JNU, only 3 programmes had SC reservations, 2 programmes had ST reservations, and only 15 had OBC reservations. The JNU administration also stands accused of having converted 19 reserved seats to unreserved ones.
The #JNUkilledReservation Twitter storm that took place along with the protest marches also elaborated how the reservation policy was threatened by the 100% viva rule. The protesting students are demanding that the weightage given to viva be reduced. According to the students, students from Dalit and other marginalised communities are discriminated on the basis of caste at the time of viva and this comes as a natural outcome of having very few Dalit representation among the faculty.
Students accused the interview board at History center of JNU to have said ‘your English is simple’ to Dalit students and denying seats citing the same as the reason. “This was when Viva marks was 30, now imagine with 100% Viva what’s going to happen with students coming from Marginalized sections,” a student said on social media.
Former President, Ambedkar Student’s Association (ASA) and research scholar at University of Hyderabad, Dontha Prashanth said that University Grants Commission (UGC) was being used by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) ‘to take away the reservation policy in an indirect manner.’
He said that the anti-reservation policy of RSS and BJP was being executed by henchpeople of UGC who were appointed as Vice Chancellors. Another statistic provided by students said that in the final seats offered for admission in JNU, reservation for SC is 1.3% rather than the required 15%, for ST is 0.689% rather than 7.5%, for OBC is 8.27% rather than 27%,for PH 0.34% rather than 3%.
It was accused that not a single SC/ST OBC student was called for viva voce examination in Informal Sector and Labour Studies Centre, in direct PhD entrance of JNU admission policy 2018-19. The debate brought out several issues of discrimination and lack of representation in the esteemed university. Students pointed out how there is no Dalit or Adivasi Professor in the centre for Women studies of JNU.