New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University 9JNU) administration’s exercise to call for CVs of professors emeriti is similar to "withdrawing" Nobel of a recipient, if he or she is thought to be not doing enough good work a decade or two later, the varsity's former vice-chancellor Asis Datta said on Friday.
Datta is among the 12 professors emeriti who have been asked by the JNU administration to submit their CVs for evaluation, a move that has drawn criticism from several quarters, including the varsity's teachers' association.
In a statement, Datta, who has served the university for many decades rising to be its rector and then vice chancellor, said with his position as Professor Emeritus, he claims nothing from the university.
He said he has no office at JNU and gets no remuneration from the university.
Datta has also mentioned this in a July 22 reply after varsity's registrar asked for CVs , according to the statement.
"I visit the university to interact with the faculty and students, and to discuss science which has been my life-long quest," Datta said.
He said his work involves being in close contact with the best scientists of the world, including Nobel laureates and the universities they belonged to.
The former JNU VC said so far, he has not come across a situation where scientists who were given an honour have been asked to continuously provide proof that they can retain it
"This is like withdrawing the Nobel if the recipient was thought to be doing not enough good work a decade or two later," Datta remarked.
Datta in his letter to the registrar had also said he did not avail any facilities like a room, a laboratory, a chair or a table from JNU after his retirement as he had already joined the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) as founder director, the statement said.
"Whatever, the facilities he was availing before retirement, he had transferred the same to JNU. In view of the above, the assessment of past work of 'Professor Emeritus' is not applicable to Professor Datta," it stated.
When the JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) reached out to him, he said he has been taken aback by this step of the varsity's administration "as the position is honorary and is given for life", as per the university's rules and regulations, the body said.
The teachers' association said he had given up a tenured job in the US to join JNU in the 1970s, its initial years of formation.
Datta quickly became a scientist of note, winning one prestigious award after the other. He has won awards like the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award in Biological Sciences by the CSIR in 1980, Third World Academy Award (TWAS) for Biology in 1996, Padma Shri for contribution in the field of education in 1999, and Padma Bhushan for the contribution in the field of Science and Technology (2008).
Datta became the President of the Indian Science Congress in 2004. After his leadership role in JNU, he went on to be the founding Director of the NIPGR and at present, he is a distinguished scientist of the institute.
The JNU administration's decision to ask historian Romila Thapar to submit her CV for assessment for her continuation as professor emeritus had drawn sharp criticism with JNUTA terming it "politically motivated".
Following this the university's registrar on Monday said there are 11 others, including Datta, who have also been asked to submit their CVs.
The varsity said "no single emeritus professor has been targeted, as has been falsely alleged", and "it has only sought to implement a rule that is part of the university's ordinance".