Indefinite fast on at Jadavpur University demanding entrance exam
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The indefinite fast by students of Jadavpur University (JU), protesting against the varsity’s decision to scrap admission tests for undergraduate courses, continued for the fourth day on Monday as an appeal by vice-chancellor Suranjan Das to end the strike failed to cut ice with them. On Monday, Das met the 20 protesting students and made an appeal to lift the strike. However, the students did not buckle and continued with their fast, virtually ceasing work and classes in the university.
Protests erupted on the varsity campus last week after the executive council (EC) of Jadavpur University decided to scrap admission tests for six Humanities subjects and announced it would admit undergraduate students on basis of Class XII marks. The students had given the Jadavpur University administration a deadline till Sunday to revoke their decision but it was not accepted.
* Why are the students of Jadavpur University protesting?
The students of Jadavpur University have been up in arms against the administration after the varsity on July 4 reversed a previous decision in which it agreed to conduct entrance exams for six Humanities subjects as planned after its vice-chancellor Suranjan Das was gheraoed by students. The executive council of the university decided to scrap admission tests for six Humanities subjects and announced it would admit undergraduate students in English, Comparative Literature, Bengali, History, Political Science and Philosophy only on the basis of marks.
The protesters have accused the authorities of toeing the state government’s line after state education minister Partha Chatterjee also spoke in favour of admitting students based on marks in board exams. The students have claimed the move would allow the state government to push Trinamool Congress youth cadres into the Leftist bastion university.
* When did the university administration take the decision and why?
The announcement by Jadavpur University about the new admission rules was made on July 4, a day after the government decided to do away with entrance exams for all state-run varsities, following allegations of ruling party student wing workers demanding cash for admissions.
Earlier, the JU administration devised a 50-50 plan in which 50 per cent of Class XII marks and 50 per cent of the entrance result marks would be combined to decide on the merit list. Admission into the science stream courses of JU has been decided on the basis of Class XII results for some time now.
* How have the protests hampered classes at Jadavpur University? What are the teachers saying?
On Thursday and Friday last week, protesters held V-C Suranjan Das and other officials hostage inside the administrative building of the varsity. The Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA) also called for a ceasework, while faculty members of the English department have conveyed to authorities their decision to abstain from participating in the admission process.
On Sunday, nine teachers of the Department of International Relations of the university submitted a letter to the VC, saying that they wished to dissociate themselves with the admission process as faculty members. The faculty members believe such a move would lower JU’s academic standard.
The admission committee has decided that the admission process will take place on July 27, 28, 30 and 31, while the form fill-up procedure has already begun from Friday.
* How has the state government reacted to the student protests?
State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has defended the varsity’s decision, saying the move would ensure “uniformity” in the admission process. Chatterjee met West Bengal Governor KN Tripathi on Sunday to discuss the impasse and also held a meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at her residence after leaving Raj Bhavan. So far, the government has maintained a stoic silence on the issue.
* What have the opposition parties said?
The BJP on Sunday held the Mamata Banerjee government primarily responsible for the ongoing stalemate in Jadavpur University. The saffron party said the state should consult eminent academicians and talk to the students’ union for a mutual end to the impasse. “It is the state government’s responsibility to find a solution to the ongoing problem in Jadavpur because they are primarily responsible for the complications. The statements by Education Minister have created confusion,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.
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