Thapar row: Govt denies move to axe any professor emeritus

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

New Delhi,  The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has asked notable historian Romila Thapar to submit her bio-data so that the varsity can check and decide if she could continue as professor emerita in the institution.

However, later Union Higher Education Secretary R. Subrahmanyam clarified that by asking for her bio-data the university was only following the provisions of ordinance and that there was “no move to discontinue anyone’s professor emeritus status”.

According to a report, JNU registrar Pramod Kumar last month wrote to 87-years-old Thapar and asked her to submit her bio-data so that a “committee appointed by the university could evaluate” her work and decide whether she should continue as professor emerita.

Thapar later confirmed it to IANS, through an email.

The publication of the report had the JNU administration at the receiving end of criticism. But the Secretary’s clarification by the evening helped subside the issue.

“Discussed with the JNU Vice-Chancellor about the controversy regarding professor emeritus status in JNU. There is no move to discontinue professor emeritus status to anyone, especially respected academicians; only provisions of ordinance are being followed,” Subrahmanyam tweeted.

An expert in the history of early India, Thapar was a professor at JNU between 1970 and 1991. In 1993, she was named professor emerita. A recipient of the prestigious Kluge Prize of the US Library of Congress, Thapar has also authored numerous books.

Criticising the move, one senior faculty said, “This is a purely politically-motivated action. Professor Thapar is a strong critic of policies of privatisation of education, erosion of autonomy of institutions and crushing of dissent by institutions, including the JNU.”