The JNUTA is amused by the clarification issued by the Rector, Prof. Chintamani Mahapatra, claiming that (a) JNU has had a “decades long policy” regarding cutoff marks as below, and (b) that the cutoff marks do the job of affording relaxations as mandated by reservation policy.
This statement is wrong on a number of counts.
- As per the admission policy of the university until this administration wreaked the havoc it has, the pass marks mentioned above were applicable to a sum of both the written and viva marks, and not just the viva marks.
- These pass percentages were always announced in the admission policy of the university. Consider the 2016 admission policy, which can still be found cached on the JNU website (also linked here). JNUTA’s point in the last release was that when the prospectus was released, there was no announcement regarding any cut-off marks for the viva voce. This can be seen in the 2017-18 approved Admission Policy for the 2017-18 admissions notified on the JNU website (also linked here). The formula of 40, 36, and 30 as pass marks for the viva voce finds no mention in this document for the research degree vivas — instead, clause 6.6 (on page 8) states simply this:
- It also turns out that these ‘relaxations’ for reserved categories that JNU is supposedly proffering will not have a significant impact on ensuring admission of the reserved categories. JNU has released cut-offs for the first list and the second list (to be found here on the JNU website), which show that in general marking for the 100% viva voce was in the higher ranges, and that over both lists, the relaxed pass marks were invoked only in five instances. The relaxation is not an effective one, it seems, as 100 reserved seats remained vacant in the 2017-18 admissions.
- The cut-off lists also confirm the JNUTA/JNUSU apprehension that unless relaxations are given to the 50% qualifying mark at the written test level, there will be hardly any reserved category selection, and that in general, the 50% qualifying mark is too high a bar to set. This is strikingly so in the two M.Tech programmes in Nanoscience and the M.Tech in Statistical Computing, where no-one qualified for offer in the first list itself. If in any of these programmes, candidates did make it to the viva (with a de facto score of minimum 50%), the marks they received in the viva voce were below the pass marks. For the M.Tech. in Computer & System Sciences, which had an intake of 20 seats, but could offer only 3 of them, the cull was effected entirely by the 50% qualifying mark, as of 908 people who applied, only 5 made it to the viva voce. All the 3 candidates who appeared for it were selected. In CITD, which had 4 reserved seats, not one candidate made it to the final selection.
In fact, the cut-off lists continue to confirm that reservation policy violations have been committed with impunity — as in 3 instances, the cut-off for both the General Category and one or the other Reserved category is the same! By established rule, the all the candidates who qualified at this mark should have been placed in the general list, but in all instances, they were not — the reserved student was shunted to the reserved category. This can be seen in the M.Phil/PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies, Life Sciences (FORP), and in Ph.D. (through JRF) in Mathematical Sciences. Although in all cases, all candidates were offered admission, the decision to deny the SC/ST/OBC candidates a rank in the general list and uses up the reserved seat, as it were, to prevent it from being offered to someone else below that cut-off. In the 2017-18 admission policy, this measure is stated as a decision to do away with ‘the bunching of marks’. (Although this decision is stated to be because this is disallowed by the UGC Regulations 2016, there is in fact not even one word about this in that document.) Are we now to expect scenarios in which no reserved category student makes it into the general list in 2017-18 (unless they top it)?
The JNUTA would like to remind the JNU administration that the ‘general’ category is an open list accessible to all candidates, and designating it as an upper-caste list is against the law, as laid down in various government orders and several Supreme and High Court judgments. Relaxations that do not significantly improve admissions to the reserved categories, because they are accompanied by a virtually unassailable bar at the first hurdle for many students, are merely lip-service in the direction of Constitutional provisions. While the JNU administration may have scant regard for the law and Constitutional morality, JNU teachers shall remain law-abiding and vigilant against these violations.
Ayesha Kidwai Pradeep Shinde