New Delhi: Former JNU vice-chancellor Asis Datta, noted scientist R Rajaraman and historian Romila Thapar are among 12 emeritus professors whose CVs have been sought by Jawaharlal Nehru University administration for a review of their work.
However, after widespread criticism of the move, the Human Resource Development Ministry on Monday clarified that there was no move to discontinue Professor Emeritus status to anyone by JNU and only standard procedures are being followed.
The professor emeritus is an honorary position given to noted faculty members after their retirement. The emeritus professors are free to do academic work in the departments they are attached to and may supervise research scholars as a core supervisor along with regular faculty members.
The JNU administration's decision to ask historian Thapar to submit her CV for assessment for her continuation as professor emerita drew sharp criticism from various quarters.
However, the JNU registrar on Monday said that there are 11 others who have also been asked to submit their CVs, adding that "...the decision (to ask for their CVs) was taken by the university's Executive Council," he said.
"Professors H S Gill, C K Varshney, Ashok Sanjay Guha, Asis Datta, R Rajaraman, Romila Thapar, Yogendra Singh, D Banerji, T K Oommen, Amit Bhaduri and Shiela Bhalla have been sent letters by the varsity administration. They attained the age of 75 before March 31, 2019," JNU registrar Pramod Kumar told PTI.
He said some of them had already sent their replies, including Thapar. Those who have not sent their replies, will be sent reminders and after their replies are received, a committee will review their CVs.
Kumar said that even internationally, the professor emeritus position is not a permanent position.
Former JNU VC Datta is an eminent molecular biologist and educationist who was conferred the Padma Shri in 1999 and the Padma Bhushan, the country's third-highest civilian award, in 2008. He is a recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize and the Priyadarshini Award.
Prof. Datta is an elected fellow of all three major Indian Science Academies as well as the "Third World Academy of Sciences". He was the eighth vice-chancellor of the varsity and the founder director of the National Institute of Plant Genome Research.
Professor Rajaraman did his PhD under Nobel Laureate Hans Bethe. Bethe had won Nobel Prize in Physics in 1967 for his work on the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis.
The Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association (JNUTA) had said on Sunday that the JNU administration's decision to ask 87-year-old Thapar to submit her CV was "politically motivated".
Soon after the JNUTA statement, the university said it was following its ordinance "in letter and spirit" in the appointment of professor emeritus at JNU.
"As per the ordinance, the university is required to write to all those who have attained the age of 75 years to know their availability and their willingness to continue their association with the university. Letters have been written only to those emeritus professors who fall in this category," it said.
It explained writing these letters is not for discontinuation but for an informed review by the Executive Council, the highest statutory body of the university, and it is consistent with the practices at other reputed universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Princeton University. PTI SLB
The JNUTA on Sunday called it a "deliberate attempt to try and dishonour those who have been critical of the current administration". It demanded a formal retraction of the move and said a personal apology be issued to Thapar.
The association "expressed its outrage" at the efforts by the administration to "denigrate" the teaching and learning traditions of JNU via its "tasteless communications" to Thapar. It accused the association of having an "agenda" to allegedly destroy the legacies and the promise of the university.
"The insult to Prof. Romila Thapar is just another politically motivated step in this regard, motivated no doubt by the active and steadfast support and inspiration she has provided to the teachers and students of JNU in their fight to keep the university in line with the vision and ideals embedded into its foundations," JNUTA said.