Jawaharlal Nehru University's students of History have said they were "pained" by the administration's move to ask historian Romila Thapar to submit her CV as "having her in the university was akin to having an eminence tag for the varsity".
The JNU administration's decision to ask Thapar to submit her CV for assessment for her continuation as professor emerita had drawn sharp criticism from various quarters with the JNUTA terming it "politically motivated", following which the university registrar had said there are 11 others who have also been asked to submit their resumes. The university had said it was done with the objective of ascertaining Thapar's "availability" and "willingness" to continue her "association with the university" and not to assess her for continuation.
However, the alumni and current students feel that the varsity is "insulting" academicians by asking for their CVs. Rakesh Batabyal, who is currently a professor at the JNU and has also studied there, opined that the current atmosphere is "anti-knowledge".
"What is happening currently in JNU is symptomatic of what is happening in society. The whole atmosphere is anti-knowledge and this is what you would call the 'rise of the mediocre'. This is the end of the knowledge paradigm," he said. Other students also echoed similar sentiments and said it should be a matter of pride to the JNU that a professor of Thapar's stature is associated with it.
Nayan Dhawal, a PhD student said, "Having Romila Thapar is akin to having an eminence tag for the university. She has made immense contribution to ancient history and how it is read." "Today, the varsity is ranked around 51 (in the QS rankings JNU was ranked under the bracket of 51-100 in history and sociology). It is somewhere due to the contribution of professors like her. She has given new avenues to political writings," he added.
He said asking Thapar to submit her CV is akin to asking Mahatma Gandhi about his contribution to India. Sudhir Nirala, who is pursuing PhD from JNU, concurred with Dhawal and said she is admired by everyone in the university.
"Professor Romila Thapar is loved and admired by students and professors alike in the varsity. Even if someone gets to know about her lecture just few minutes before, they would run to attend it," he said. "Her lectures always see a gathering of 500 students. She represents several generations of JNU and it is surprising for us to hear that she was asked for her CV. She is right on her part to not share her CV with the university," he opined.
Rishiraj Yadav, who recently contested for the post of vice-president in the JNUSU election for the students' wing of the Rashtriya Janata Dal-- Chhatra RJD, said he knows Thapar personally and she not only guided him on his PhD thesis but also provided financial assistance when he needed it. "It pains me to hear that she has been asked to submit her CV. How can the administration ask someone of the stature of Romila ma'am for her CV? This is an insult to the academicians. This is a well-planned conspiracy against her but we support her," he said.
Sujata, a former student of the varsity called the move "preposterous and atrocious". "She is one of the greatest popular intellectuals in India and the world who has always been taken a stand. What is happening is preposterous and atrocious at the same time," she said.
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