Promotions Controversy at JNU Sparks Faculty Protest and Calls for Transparency
Representational image. | Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
New Delhi: In a recent tweet from the official Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the institution celebrated the promotion of 108 faculty members under the current vice chancellor's tenure. However, this statement from the university has raised questions and concerns about the real state of promotions at JNU. The numbers provided in the tweet, though impressive, do not tell the whole story.
The tweet came as a response to the JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) State of the University Report released in September 2023. JNUTA released a press statement clarifying that the report highlighted several issues with faculty promotions that challenge the administration's claims of progress.
The statement said that one critical point raised in the report is the lack of transparency regarding the number of pending promotions and the duration these promotions have been kept on hold. It also calls attention to the number of years of past service that colleagues have had to sacrifice for their promotions and the financial implications that come with it.
A closer examination of the numbers reveals a more alarming situation. The university claimed 37 faculty members were promoted from associate professor to professor over the last two years. However, the report pointed out that there were more than 104 associate professors due for promotion when the current vice chancellor assumed office and an additional 21 have become eligible since. This means that over 70% of associate professors are still waiting for their promotions, some of which have been pending since 2016.
The report also highlighted the promotion of 15 faculty colleagues from assistant professor to associate professor. However, it reveals that there were at least 47 faculty members who had served as assistant professors in JNU since 2010 or earlier and were eligible for promotion in 2022. Many of them had even completed 15 years of service, indicating that the number of promotions should have been significantly higher than the 15 that were carried out.
Out of more than 200 assistant professors with promotions pending, the university has only processed 56 cases, and this processing appears to be highly selective. The report underscores that many new colleagues who recently joined the university would also have past service that qualifies them for promotion, suggesting that the number of pending promotions continues to grow.
The JNUTA attributed this dire state of promotions to what they describe as the administration's hostile attitude towards the faculty. The report alleged that the administration has not made any effort to resolve issues, including the counting of past service, and instead has created obstacles for faculty members seeking promotion, including the alleged illegal use of chargesheets.
The JNUTA has made repeated attempts to engage in discussions and negotiations with the administration, but their efforts have been met with inaction. Consequently, the JNUTA has announced its intention to resort to agitation as a means of addressing their concerns and objections to what they perceive as arbitrary and discriminatory treatment of the faculty.
As a first step, the JNUTA has declared that November 17, 2023, will be observed as a Protest Day within the university. The JNUTA calls upon all teachers to participate in large numbers to demonstrate their collective resolve to fight for their rights.
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