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JNU first woman V-C is multilingual political scientist & alumna Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit

Pandit’s appointment confirmed after acting V-C M Jagadesh Kumar was made UGC chairperson last week. She is currently a professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University.

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New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) got its first woman vice-chancellor (V-C) Monday as the Union Ministry of Education announced the appointment of Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, a professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University, to the post.

Pandit is a political scientist and JNU alumnus herself. Her appointment was confirmed after acting JNU V-C M. Jagadesh Kumar was made chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC) last week. Kumar’s tenure had ended last year. 

According to Pandit’s colleagues at the Pune university, after Kumar’s controversy-marred tenure, JNU needed a V-C who was “compassionate and caring towards students’ needs” and “academically bright at the same time”. 

Kumar’s tenure had started with a sedition case against some JNU students soon after he took charge in 2016, followed by the hostel fee hike issue in 2019, over which students protested for months. He was also accused of favouritism in appointments to top posts.

“JNU needs someone who is caring, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and understands the needs of the students, coupled with a social science experience. She can speak Marathi, Tamil and Telugu and can connect with various cultures,” a professor from Savitribai Phule Pune University, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint. 

“Additionally, she is a great orator and an excellent political scientist who understands the social realities,” the professor added.  

Pandit’s father was an author while her mother was a professor of Tamil and Telugu. According to her bio on the Pune university website, she knows Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit and English, and can understand Kannada, Malayalam and Konkani. 

After completing her graduation and postgraduation from Presidency College in Chennai, Pandit pursued her MPhil and PhD in international relations from JNU. Her PhD thesis subject was ‘Parliament and foreign policy in India – The Nehru years’. 

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Student ‘dragged, undressed, molested’ on JNU campus. Police file case, no action yet from univ


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