Following the JNUTA protest two days ago, ten of the resource persons from the 2016 Women’s Studies Refresher Course have spontaneously refused to participate in the 2017 edition, to protest the arbitrary manner in which the course was wrested away from the Centre for Women’s Studies. The JNUTA appreciates this act of solidarity, which must have been made after considerable deliberation, as no scholar can wish to adversely impact the discipline that they have fostered through their research and teaching. The colleagues who have communicated their withdrawals/refusal to the UGC-HRDC:
- Purwa Bharadwaj
- Vineeta Bal
- Charu Gupta
- Shikha Jhingan
- Seema Kazi
- Pramada Menon
- Ritu Menon
- Jagmati Sangwan
- Ranjana Saxena
- Vani Subramaniam
GargiChakravartty, who declined for personal reasons, will also not be participating in the course this year either.
From what the JNUTA has been able to gather, the JNU UGC-HRD Centre and/or the current Course coordinators approached many of the speakers who spoke last year, leaving the JNUTA wondering as to why then the coordination of the course had to be taken away from CWS. Furthermore, It seems that the only resource people on last year’s list who were not invited this year are JNU faculty, including CWS faculty, all of whom are feminist scholars. The full list of invitees for the 2016 edition can be found here. The JNUTA cannot fathom why, given these colleagues’ demonstrable academic expertise in women and gender studies, the JNU faculty named here had to be spurned thus.
The JNUTA would like to draw the Director, UGC-HRDC’s attention to the fact that the goal of Refresher Courses is, in the words of the UGC guidelines hosted on the JNU UGC-HRDC website, “to equip and motivate the participants with advanced knowledge to accept challenges of quality teaching and research”. Advanced knowledge can be imparted only by those who are researching and teaching in the field, In fact, the JNU understanding has been that the true success of a Refresher Course can be guaranteed only if the content and programme of the course is determined not by individuals cherry-picked by the Director of the UGC-HRDC, but by the whole department (who then designates coordinator(s) from amongst itself). This wisdom has been summarily dispensed with in the current dispensation. This does not portend well for the quality of orientation and refresher courses in the JNU UGC-HRDC, and should be a matter of concern for all.
Ayesha Kidwai and Pradeep Shinde