Romila Thapar
Historian and author Romila Thapar | Commons
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New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University has, in letters, asked its professors emeriti, presumably above 75 years of age, including prominent historian Romila Thapar, to submit a list of what they have been doing in the past couple of years so that their work can be “evaluated”.

Of JNU’s 25 professors emeriti, some like Thapar theoretical physicist R. Rajaraman and sociologist T.K. Oomen are above 75 years of age. ThePrint could not confirm independently if they had also received letters like Thapar has.

Those below 75 years, like the left-leaning political scientist Zoya Hassan and economist Prabhat Patnaik, have not received these letters.

Thapar, a vocal critic of the Modi government, is a well-known historian with several acclaimed books to her credit. She retired from the university in 1991 and was made professor emeritus soon after. The position is an honorary one with no financial implications for an institution. Such professors can pursue academic work and can supervise research students.

Also read: JNU became ‘badnaam like Munni’ says ABVP leader, BJP MP says rename it after Modi

JNU Registrar Pramod Kumar confirmed to ThePrint that a letter has been sent to Thapar, adding that it has been sent to all the professors emeriti and not just her. He, however, did not add anything about the age bracket.

“We did send a letter to all the emeriti last month asking them to give us information on what they have been doing for the last few years so that we can update our records,” Kumar told ThePrint.

Two professors emeriti ThePrint spoke to confirmed that they had also received the letter from the university last month. They did not disclose the contents of the letter but confirmed that the university had asked them for a list of their work for evaluation.

“Yes, I did receive a letter last month from the university asking me to submit information on my work so that it can be evaluated,” said one of professor, speaking to ThePrint on the condition of anonymity.

“But I would not like to share the exact words of the letter as it is something personal and confidential between me and the university,” the professor added.

Professor Thapar also confirmed to ThePrint over the phone that she has received the letter but refused to divulge any further information.

Professor Zoya Hassan said the letter is likely to have gone to people who are 75 years old or above. Describing the decision as “arbitrary”, she pointed out that there was no such rule that professors above 75 years could not be named Emerita.

“The position of professor emeritus is an honorary position given to us; we don’t apply for it,” Hassan told ThePrint. “So, there is no need for an age limit or evaluation of work.”

The 75-year-old rule has so far been applied to politicians by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — leading all politicians above 75 years to be either forcibly retired or not getting any jobs in the first place — but this is the first time that it is being likely applied in the education sphere as well.

Some other professors emeriti with JNU, as per its website, are former University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman Sukhdeo Thorat and genetic scientist Asis Dutta.

Letter evokes sharp reaction

JNU asking for a roundup of work from the emeritus has evoked sharp reactions from the fraternity and Prof. Thapar herself, who in a letter to the university questioned the idea behind such an evaluation.

Professor Thapar’s colleague, Prabhat Patnaik, hit out at the move. “This current action of the JNU contradicts the very basis on which the status of professor emeritus was conferred on retired faculty in the JNU,” Patnaik wrote in a letter published in the Economic and Political Weekly.

“The honour is not conferred for work in the future, work that is yet to be done, but for the work that the faculty member has done before retirement,” the letter adds. “This means that it is based on work that the professor has done before the award was conferred. It is a lifetime achievement award as well; therefore, any assessment of work subsequent to the award is not required. The continuity of the award is not dependent on future work.”

He also added that the Centre for Historical Studies at JNU has also objected to this attempt to reconsider the status of emeritus for Thapar.

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16 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Govt must take action against Romilla thaper.she is literary traitor who defame the prestige of the country by publishing 90% false articles.

  2. In IITs, professors are, at most, given 5 years of emeritus status. What these JNU Marxists think that they should be allowed to peddle their lies to students 28 years after the retirement???

  3. Supervising the research work at 75 years of age and even above 75 is more than a joke. Retiring age has also become a joke to these professors whose mind has fixed in history. This seems to be one of the reason why JNU continues to produce half baked PhDs and its researchers unaware of changing India . JNU should now be rescued from the clutches of marxism.

  4. Why does the writer of this article start off with creating doubt if anyone other than Prof Thapar received the letter and then confirm others over 75 did receive it? Damages thePrint’s credibility.

  5. Good. That should ha e happened long ago. Why is Thapar angry ? Every University has a right to evaluate policies on a continuous basis and correct if required. So far Left stooges ruled the academicia for ages but now their time is up. Now Shivaji, Tilak, Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and many others will find their name in history books. Fake and self professed fictional history writer shoukd be shown her place. Thapar is a hatemonger and deserves to be kicked out from all possible institutions where she is associated.

  6. To add to my earlier post
    How can a professor emeritus retire baffles me, it’s an honorary award for lifetime achievement, how can one retire from a award, can a Army General retire from his Vasisht Seva Medal?
    This only confirmed my earlier long held view, that we in India are being ruled by illiterate jackasses from the RSS rapidly taking the country backwards.

    • Hello illiterate Jackass, yes every award has a clause that it can be revoked (you don’t read the fine print, do you?). But then morons like you will never get any award consideration, so how would you know?

      If the recipient brings disrepute to the cause of the award, the award can be revoked. Thapar is a clear candidate to be removed, not just from her honorary post, but also from the annals of our country’s history.

  7. Romila Thapar is a fraud. The only reason for her fame was that she sold her soul to the party in power; in return, she was given resources and state patronage to monopolize Indian history and create a version that suited the rulers of the day. She is nothing but a durbari historian of yester-years. We need to purge such dishonest academics from our Universities before we can tell our own true history.

  8. I still remember laughing out loud reading Thapar’s fiction on Aryan invasion. Even her new one, Who is an Aryan is more technical-sounding mumbo jombo. How long does Taxpayer support such Marxists?

  9. The reason why the JNU was considered a prestigious Indian university was because of Prof Thapar and her ilk.
    I was lucky enough to be taught by Prof Thapar and Prof Bipin Chandra.
    Regardless of the many international awards given to Prof Thapar and the opinion of her peers teaching at the world most prestigious universities,
    A single book by Prof Thapar or a single lecture of hers, should enough of a CV for the ignorant RSS stooge of a vice chancellor.

    • Well said Mr Ashok. Who knows the HRD Minister may even ask who is late Dr Bipin Chandra. Since they cannot counter Dr Thapar they are using stupid methods to humiliate her.


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