Tens of thousands apply to JNU every year for its 2500 odd seats for admissions to various programmes. On an average, the number of people who apply from Delhi alone equals nearly four times of the available seats, from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh about eight times, yet JNU’s national character remains unaffected. Consider the data from 2016 as an example of this general pattern.
Why don’t applicants from Delhi hog all the seats? Or why don’t UP or Bihar? There are many reasons for this — a truly national entrance examination conducted simultaneously over 50 centres spread across the country, and an academic commitment in its departments to encourage research on varied regions and research questions — but a major contributor is the JNU system of deprivation points, that can award students up to 12 extra marks on their overall score for social and developmental backwardness and gender.
These deprivation points make JNU’s intake nearly as rural as urban.
They also ensure that the university is unambiguously one that admits poor and lower middle class students as it does middle class students (if characterising a family income of Rs. 12000 a month middle class!).
JNU’s research programmes have only benefited from what the deprivation points achieve — a wonderful variety of experience, knowledge and skills in our classroom. Using the pretext of the UGC Regulations, however, these deprivation points have been done away with for the research programmes (even though the Regulations do not proscribe their use). Another instance of minimum standards ensuring a fall in standards of research.