New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar are the most prominent faces in the current Narendra Modi dispensation to have studied at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
But it’s not just the two of them. JNU may have gained the reputation of being ‘anti-establishment’, yet India’s governance landscape, both at the central and state levels, is dotted with its alumni. Not all of them are well-known, but they have all made contributions to India’s governance.
This Sunday, JNU hit the headlines again when students and teachers were attacked by masked assailants and at least 34 people were injured. The JNU Students’ Union and many others blamed the RSS-affiliated ABVP for the attack, while the ABVP said the assaulters were from Left student organisations.
Many JNU alumni in the political and social spheres, such as Sitaram Yechury and Yogendra Yadav, criticised the politicisation of the university. And both Sitharaman and Jaishankar openly condemned the incident.
“Horrifying images from JNU — the place I know & remember was one for fierce debates & opinions but never violence. I unequivocally condemn the events of today. This govt, regardless of what has been said the past few weeks, wants universities to be safe spaces for all students,” Sitharaman tweeted Sunday night.
Jaishankar added: “Have seen pictures of what is happening in #JNU. Condemn the violence unequivocally. This is completely against the tradition and culture of the university.”
Top government officials and policymakers with JNU backgrounds, such as NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and social justice & empowerment secretary R. Subrahmanyam also condemned the incident.
“#JNUViolence completely unacceptable and shameful. I condemn the violence is no uncertain terms and demand immediate action against the hooligans,” Subrahmanyam tweeted.
JNU alumni in Indian governance
At present, there are about half-a-dozen secretaries in the central government who have Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from JNU — prominent among them are Subrahmanyam, DoPT Secretary C. Chandramouli, Minorities Affairs Secretary Pramod Kumar Das and Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade Secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra.
Other prominent civil servants from JNU across services include Rajeev Topno, the private secretary to PM Modi (a joint secretary-level officer), and I&B ministry Additional Secretary Ali Raza Rizvi.
Among non-IAS officers, Sharmila Chavaly, principal financial adviser to the Northern Railway, is also a JNU alumna.
Indian Foreign Service officers from JNU include former foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey, India’s permanent representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin, as well as Paulomi Tripathi, the first secretary at India’s UN Mission, who took on Pakistan at the UN General Assembly in December.
Among IPS officers, Tamil Nadu DGP J.K. Tripathy and Sikkim DGP Shankar Rao are prominent JNU alums, as are former Intelligence Bureau chief Syed Asif Ibrahim and former R&AW chief Alok Joshi.
Odisha Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy is a prominent state official who studied at JNU, as did Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac and former Jammu and Kashmir finance minister and J&K Bank chief Haseeb Drabu.
Arvind Gupta, former deputy National Security Advisor and director at Vivekananda International Foundation and former RBI deputy governor H.R. Khan are also JNU alumni.