New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University Executive Council Thursday approved a controversial course on counter-terrorism that had been opposed by the university’s student council and teachers association. A 17-member committee, the executive council decides on management and administrative issues of the university.
Titled ‘Counter Terrorism, Asymmetric Conflicts and Strategies for Cooperation among Major Powers’, the optional course had courted controversy in the past few days for allegedly “peddling RSS ideology” and singling out one religion.
The primary points of contention in the course relate to designating “jihadi terrorism” as the only form of “fundamentalist-religious terrorism” and stating that the erstwhile Soviet Union and China were the “predominant state-sponsors of terrorism” that influenced “radical Islamic states”.
It will be an optional paper offered to students pursuing a dual degree programme in the School of Engineering as part of their one-year Master’s degree (MS), which is studied after four years of studying engineering subjects.
The course was approved by the university’s Academic Council — the university’s highest decision-making body for academic programmes — on 17 August and according to a report in The Indian Express, the JNU Teacher’s Association has alleged that no discussion took place on the course in the meeting.
Maushumi Basu, secretary of the JNUTA and a professor at the School of International Studies at the University told ThePrint, “Whatever the university wanted is done. The rigour with which courses used to be served in JNU has been completely diluted. The way these courses have been structured and passed is surprising.”
Along with this course, two others — ‘India’s emerging world view in the twenty-first century’ and ‘Significance of science and technology in international relations’ — were also passed in the executive council meeting.
On these courses, Basu said, “A course designed for Science and Technology is without a reading list, it is unheard of to have a course without a reading list. What will the students learn? It was our duty to point out the fallacies and problems which were there. The final call to be made will obviously going to be one that the university takes, nothing can be done.”
JNU V-C’s defence of course
The Vice-Chancellor of JNU, Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar Wednesday had responded to the uproar over the counter-terrorism course, calling it “needless”.
“During the past few days, there was a needless controversy created about the first course without going into the academic merits of the course. The objective of the course is mainly to have in-depth understanding on the challenges emanating from terrorism in India’s national security and how India can get equipped with the adequate responses in the case of any eventuality,” Kumar said in a statement.
In its Thursday meeting, the EC also announced that it will be commemorating 14 August as ‘Partition Horror’s Remembrance Day’.
“The university will organise on 14 August every year various events including webinars/seminars, exhibitions, distinguished lectures, recording of true account of the events through survivors, and other related activities in order to educate the younger generation about how millions of Indians lost their lives in the horrors of the partition,” read a statement by the university.