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All eyes on crucial JNU meet as seat cuts threaten varsity’s ethos

LiveMint logoLiveMint 08-05-2017 PTI

New Delhi: With the focal point of Tuesday’s JNU academic council meet centred around the debate on contentious seat cuts, dreams of professors like Purushothama Bilimale are at stake.

Bilimale, professor of Kannada, who was working in American Institute of Indian Studies with a lucrative package, quit his job to join JNU for a lower pay to head the Kannada chair in October, 2015. The chair, that was formed after an MoU was signed between the Karnataka government and JNU, had planned for MPhil/PhD programme with a Rs43 lakh per annum contribution from the state.

“Since the time I joined, I took time to form a library with 12,000 books crowd-sourced from Karnataka, prepared prospectus and a curriculum,” said Bilimale who had planned to take three research students every year till the maximum limit of eight or nine is reached. Stunned by 21 March JNU prospectus that did not allot even a single seat for Kannada, Bilimale wrote in vain to vice-chancellor Jagadesh Kumar. With the Delhi high court having ordered a stay on implementation of seat cuts by JNU till 27 July, the students and professors are hoping the court order is not flouted in the council meeting on Tuesday.

“This academic council meeting would be critical. If the seat-cut is implemented, I would have no work here than sitting idle and enjoying the salary,” he said. Bilimale, who joined JNU with a dream to elevate Kannada to a national platform, held various seminars and cultural programmes on the language. “I even got the state government to sanction Rs5 crore so that the chair does not fade away once the MoU period of five years is over,” he said.

Bengali and Assamese chairs which got approval would face a similar fate if seat cuts are implemented, though vacancies for the chairs are yet to be filled, said Devendra K. Choubey, another professor and general secretary of alumni association of JNU.

The university had announced that it would follow the UGC regulations and announced a seat cut of over 80% from 1,408 seats for 2017-18. The JNU students’ union (JNUSU) has called for a rally on the campus on Tuesday in protest against the UGC and university administration for being in favor of seat cuts.

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