V-Cs for JNU, BHU: Year into search, govt issues new advts, calls for applications

Applications for the post of JNU V-C, under the re-advertisement that was issued on Saturday, will be accepted till October 11. Fresh applications for the post of BHU V-C were accepted between September 15 and September 24.

A year after launching the process to pick the next vice-chancellors of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the Ministry of Education has issued fresh advertisements to accept more applications for the posts, citing the need to have a “wider choice for selection”.

Applications for the post of JNU V-C, under the re-advertisement that was issued on Saturday, will be accepted till October 11. Fresh applications for the post of BHU V-C were accepted between September 15 and September 24.

Incumbent JNU V-C M Jagadesh Kumar’s tenure ended on January 26, following which he was allowed to continue in his post by the Ministry till his successor was picked. Kumar is also among the frontrunners for the next IIT Delhi Director.

Vacant positions at the top

The government has been slow in appointing the heads of several universities and IITs. The posts of chairpersons of many IITs, including IIT Roorkee, which had a full-time chairperson three years ago, continue to be vacant. On September 22, Delhi University got a full-time VC in Professor Yogesh Singh, nearly a year after the suspension of Yogesh Tyagi from the post by President Ram Nath Kovind on grounds of “dereliction of duty”.

In BHU, Professor Vijay Kumar Shukla is the acting VC after former V-C Rakesh Bhatnagar’s term ended on March 28 this year.

“The Advertisement for appointment of VC, JNU was initially published on 24.10.2020 in the leading newspapers. However, in order to have a wider choice for selection, the applications in the prescribed proforma are invited from eligible persons…The eligible candidates need to apply by 11th October 2021 till 05.30 P.M,” said the new advertisement issued by the Department of Higher Education of the Ministry.

In the previous round, when a month-long window was provided, around 200 applications were received.

The JNU Teachers’ Association (JNUTA) hit out the ministry over the re-advertisement, saying it “speaks volume of not just its (Centre) inefficiency but its active connivance in systematically destroying the university”.

“JNUTA has consistently maintained that Prof. Kumar’s tenure as Vice Chancellor has been regressive and marked by several volatile moments. The re-advertisement offers a pretext for the continuation of Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar for an indefinite period, allowing him the opportunity to further erode the university’s autonomy,” the association, which has been locked in dispute with Kumar throughout his tenure, said in its statement.

Sources in the Ministry said applications received in the previous round stand valid in the case of JNU as well as BHU and will be taken into account during the selection process.

The three-member JNU search-cum-selection-committee has National Board of Accreditation chairperson Professor K K Aggarwal and Professor Ashok Gajanan Modak, who was appointed as a National Research Professor by the Centre in 2015, among its members.

The selection process had previously hit a hurdle when the Education Ministry was informed about alleged impropriety in the conduct of one of the applicants for the post. It is learnt that among the two incumbent Rectors at JNU who applied for the job, one was present in the meeting in which the university’s Executive Council (EC) selected its nominee to the search-cum-selection committee. Based on a reference from the Education Ministry, the Law Ministry had examined the matter and ruled out any conflict of interest.

In the case of BHU, while the first advertisement, issued on December 9 last year, said that the applicant must not be more than 67 years of age as on the closing date of receipt of applications of that advertisement, the fresh advertisement said the candidate should “preferably” not be more than 67 years of age. It is also confirmed that former finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia is heading the search-cum-selection committee.

The appointments of VCs of many universities, along with that of directors and chairpersons of several IITs, have been pending for long.

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