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More heat on JNU V-C as ‘unqualified’ teachers appointed to disaster research centre

JNU faculty members and other scholars associated with Special Centre for Disaster Research write to Chancellor V.K. Saraswat, saying ‘centre is in crisis’, like ‘the rest of JNU’.

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New Delhi: A new centre for disaster research at the Jawaharlal Nehru University began admitting students last year. But already those associated with the centre feel it’s headed for disaster — thanks to some teachers that have been appointed to it.

One of the various allegations levelled at JNU vice-chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar by students and teachers alike has been tweaking rules and showing disregard for qualifications in faculty appointments.

At the Special Centre for Disaster Research (SCDR), the JNU administration has allegedly appointed three faculty members who don’t have a background in disaster studies or research. This is despite the availability of candidates trained in the subject, sources told ThePrint.

Other faculty members and scholars associated with the SCDR have written to university chancellor V.K. Saraswat, asking for his intervention. One such email accessed by ThePrint points out the discrepancies in appointment and says the “centre is in crisis”, just like “the rest of JNU”, and needs “serious intervention”.

Also read: JNU attack aided by administration, says teachers association, demands V-C’s resignation

The problem with the appointments

The SCDR had three sanctioned posts from the University Grants Commission for the first batch of MA/PhD students, and teachers were needed in three core areas related to disaster research — disaster law and governance; vulnerable communities — gender, disability, poverty, caste; and GIS/geospatial sciences.

JNU has appointed Abhijeet Dwivedi, Deep Narayan Pandey and Nikunj Makwana to teach the respective subjects.

JNU’s official advertisement stated that the person who would teach disaster law needed to be a PhD in this specific subject, and have desirable experience of comparative case studies, emergency governance and judicial responses to disasters. For teaching ‘vulnerable communities’, the necessary qualification was a PhD, preferably in governance, with field experience of working with vulnerable rural communities affected by environmental changes. For teaching GIS, the university was seeking someone with a PhD in geography/geospatial sciences, and preferable field experience of studies on disaster-affected remote regions in the country.

However, official email exchanges between the SCDR and JNU administration, accessed by ThePrint, show that none of the three appointees is from the specialisations mentioned. Dwivedi is a PhD scholar from corporate and company law; Pandey, hired to teach the subject on vulnerable communities, has done his research on transportation in the African country Ethiopia; while Makwana, a scholar in community medicine, has been hired for teaching GIS/geospatial sciences.

Also read: Smriti Irani didn’t want Jagadesh Kumar as JNU V-C but Pranab Mukherjee picked him anyway

‘Qualified candidates were ignored’

Emails sent by faculty members to Saraswat claimed that 270 candidates sat for the interview, including 20-30 who were already trained in disaster research, but none of them were selected. Among the applicants for the GIS position, there were some who had extensive work in the relevant field, but they weren’t chosen either.

The qualified candidates also complained to the JNU V-C and its chancellor about their non-selection. One candidate, who has worked in the field of disaster research for 15 years, sought a review of the candidature in an email to Saraswat, which has been accessed by ThePrint. However, the candidate alleged that there was no response.

A senior professor at the SCDR alleged: “There was blatant disregard for qualification and specialisation. The V-C only appointed his own hand-picked people, who, we have heard, have their association with the ABVP and the RSS. People who were already trained in disaster research also sat for the interview, but they were ignored outright.”

The faculty member claimed two candidates selected as assistant professors have yet to submit their PhD, and are “nowhere even close to it”.

Another faculty member alleged: “It is a specialised centre and needs people who have the expertise required in the domain, but all this was blatantly ignored by the V-C and the selection committee, which appointed some hand-picked people. A list of the selected people was already doing the rounds in hostels even before the official announcement was made… This proves that the interview and selection process is a sham.”

Also read: V-C Jagadesh Kumar came to JNU to change its character: HRD ministry told PMO last year

Appointees’ defence, administration’s silence

ThePrint contacted all three appointees for their response to these allegations. While Dwivedi said he had “nothing to say”, Makwana asserted he is qualified for the post.

“I am qualified in medicine, and if a disaster comes, medical help is the first thing needed,” Makwana said.

Pandey, meanwhile, questioned those making the allegations. “I am aware of the allegations against me… People who are raising these objections were in the selection committee themselves, why did they select me then? Also, I have enough experience of disaster handling,” he said.

Neither JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar nor Registrar Pramod Kumar responded to ThePrint’s queries through calls, emails or text messages.

ThePrint also reached Saraswat through email, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.

(A previous version of this report wrongly identified one of the three newly appointed teachers as Abhishek Dwivedi. He is Abhijeet Dwivedi. The error is regretted.)

Also read: JNU V-C Jagadesh Kumar: Can engineers effectively head a largely social sciences university?


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  1. Where was the print when Congress and Left were appointing their people? I dare The Print to write an article on history of academic appointments in higher education institution in India. Their reporters will be gone mad till they finish the article. Indian higher education institution is run by academic mafia.

  2. What great use are Leftist junkies to Intellectual Capital of India? How many Physics Nobels has JNU produced. At least the IITs can boast of a few HiTech CEOs. Do not give the example of an Economics Nobel who has passed through JNU. Other than being a freebie loving Leftist bastion JNU is nothing.

  3. I had applied for a Tagore Fellowship to the JNU last year in response to a newspaper ad. When there was no response or call for an interview, I asked a friend who is a faculty member at JNU what was happening. He had gone on long leave. He said that there was no hope at all. He offered the example of how the wife of a faculty member who had command over a musical instrument, was suddenly appointed to teach French over which she had no command! I have already got two senior research fellowshops before, one from PSBT and one post -doc from ICSSR in the recent past and also one from NFAI in Pune. I have absolutely no backing in academic or political circles and am a self-taught film scholar with a Ph. D. In History. Looking at things now, I have no regrets. I am with the agitating students.

  4. Like JNUSU, JNUTA is dominated by CPM. Both unions act in unison, JNUTA id mentor of JNUSU. Appointment of faculty has SOP. If there is deviation, aggrieved party can approach appropriate authority, including court. Faculty of JNU is proactive, it even approached Delhi High Court for recent attack of masked men in campus. But it kept s deliberate silence on appointment till date. Unsuccessful candidates will also have grouge, it is natural.

  5. To me, it seems that the qualification for three posts has been tailored to suit some particular candidates. Ruckus is raised just because they were not appointed. Generally, who the hell is going to specialise in such obscure subjects and expect to earn livelihood. Anyway, the subjects are not Rocket Science.

    • It just shows your ignorance and blatant lack of regard for hard work of other people. I hope you grow up and realize specialized research IS a difficult as rocket science

  6. The entire country is systematically sanghified. This is a very dangerous trend. A perfect recipe for civil war.

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