The teachers' protest in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has intensified after the administration threatened to cut down the salaries if they fail to mark their attendance.
In a circular issued on November 29, Registrar Pramod Kumar said that the decision was taken after the Executive Council gave its nod to the proposal. The latest protests were triggered after the JNU administration declined teachers study leave to mark their attendance, and submit the attendance records of their students.
The circular read, “The EC, in its 277th meeting held on November 20, noted that some of the faculty members have not been marking attendance despite clear instructions issued by the university, as per the decision of the EC, and suggested suitable action for violation of this rule."
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It added, "The Council reiterated that all faculty members must mark attendance in the attendance register maintained in the office of the Chairpersons or the Dean of the School concerned, and that no self-certification for marking attendance must be permitted. The Council further decided that compulsory marking of attendance by faculty members should be linked with disbursal of salary of the faculty.”
Rebutting the circular, the teachers allege that JNU administration is misrepresenting the facts as the proposal of cutting down salaries was not on the agenda of the meeting. Talking to Newsclick, Prof. Avinash Kumar, Secretary of Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) said, "The administration's claim that this [proposal] was passed in the EC is a total lie. They have issued the circular before the members of EC could respond to minutes."
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A JNUTA statement further stated, "It is pertinent to note that this matter was neither on the agenda of the 277th meeting of the Executive Council nor were the papers relating to it placed under the tabled agenda. Hence, nothing was on the table to even establish that the JNU Act, Statutes and Ordinances gave the Executive Council the power to take such a decision. Describing a brief and inconclusive discussion in the meeting on the issue as the decision of the EC to link marking of attendance to disbursal of salary is a clear act of misrepresentation of facts and a brutal act of illegality. "
The teachers have alleged that the administration is taking such measures to silence them, as they have been raising questions about financial irregularities in the university. They allege that the administration's expenses on security have gone up by 89 per cent, whereas budget for academics nosedived in the previous year. The annual report of the university states that administration spent 17.38 crores on security (installation of CCTV cameras, video recording of protests etc.) in comparison with 9.52 crores in 2016-17. The library funds were reduced to Rs 1.7 crores in 2017-18.