What’s wrong with the Amended Ordinances?

In one word: Everything.

The notified Ordinances are here. A comparative table listing how they have been altered from the version listed in the 142nd AC minutes, 267th EC minutes, to their notified version is here.

The major changes, NONE ever discussed or approved! (Reference here is to Clauses in the circulated Ordinances)

M.Phil. Ordinances

  • No. 2: It is exceedingly strange for a JNU ‘Ordinance’ to define the eligibility criteria for admission in terms of “at least 55% marks in aggregate or its equivalent grade ‘B’ in the UGC 7-point scale”, making no mention of JNU’s own 9-point scale!
  • No. 6: Centres have to take the advice of each student’s Research Advisory Committee (RAC) in order to “prescribe the course(s) to him/her”. Since an RAC has to be formed around a student and a topic, this means that the student is bound to research on the topic (s)he proposed in her/his entrance interview and is to be assigned a Research Supervisor before she embarks on coursework
  • No. 7: All women students and persons with disability (more than 40 per cent disability) may be given a “relaxation of two semesters in the maximum duration of the course after completion of the course work.” The presupposition here is one of an underlying “weakness’ of students based on gender and physical ability. It is possible, even wise, to build in the possibility of relaxation into rules governing particularly the duration of a programme, but such a possibility must not be premised on a logic of discrimination. Every student should be able to avail this in extreme  or emergency circumstances.
  • No. 9: Grades in coursework shall not be the sole responsibility of a course teacher and the Centre’s moderation committee. Rather, they shall be “finalized after a combined assessment by the Research Advisory Committee and the Department”. This represents a serious assault on the rights of both teachers and students, as a group of persons who never taught the course will be responsible for the evaluation of students enrolled for it.
  • No. 10: Students are required to “produce a draft dissertation within a period of nine months after successful completion of course work”. This is not a requirement that the UGC has proposed, and could signify an intent to shorten the length of the M.Phil. programme.
  • No. 11.2.1: This introduces the requirement that in order to qualify as a Research Superviser, a Professor must have five papers in a refereed journal whereas Assistant/ Associate Professors must have two. Shockingly, this has been notified as an ‘Ordinance’ despite the fact that it is not recorded in the minutes of the 267th EC (although the minutes of the 142nd AC do do so).
  • No. 11.2.2: This introduces the supervision caps on the number of M.Phil, students a faculty member can have: a maximum of 3 for a Professor, 2 for  an Associate Professor and 1 for an Assistant Professor. Again, this clause is not recorded in the minutes of the 267th EC and is only mentioned as an item ‘to be discussed’ in the 142nd AC minutes!
  • No. 11.6: M.Phil. research scholars have to present evidence of one research seminar/conference presentation before submission of the dissertation. This could prove to be difficult, as there is no provision for funding for conference presentations by M.Phil. students and the relatively tight schedule of M.Phil. dissertations will make it difficult in many disciplines for students to participate in conferences while they are also writing their dissertations.
  • Nos. 11.8 and 11.9: Neither item is to be found listed in the minutes of the 142nd AC or the 267th EC, yet they have been notified as ‘Ordinances’!
  • No. 15: The RAC, which is to be constituted around a particular research topic and may have members from outside the University, has been vested with the power to recommend the cancellation of the registration of the student if he/she fails to correct what the RAC considers to be ‘unsatisfactory progress’. This overweening power is unacceptable, as not only can there exist many scenarios in which the RAC’s assessment of a student’s progress as unsatisfactory may not be for academic reasons at all, but also there can be genuine academic disagreements between a supervisor and a student. Furthermore, penalties like expulsion cannot be applied when the criteria are not objective (as CGPAs are), specially when students do not have the right to appeal such a decision.
  • No. 16: This clause with a heteronormative masculinist presupposition that women have to ‘relocate’ “due to marriage” and that the university system has to see this as a valid reason for transfer of M.Phil. registration. It proceeds to  give to the woman research scholar her own research as a kind of stridhan what is already her intellectual property already (provided that she says thank you nicely)! Such a clause is simply unacceptable in a university.

PhD Ordinances

  • No. 2: Ditto the comment for No. 2 above! This clause also allows Masters students to apply directly for PhD if they have the above minimum marks!
  • Nos. 4 and 5: These clauses necessitate the allotment of a PhD supervisor at the time of interview for all Direct PhD students, but since integrated M.Phil./PhD students will not have to appear for another interview, they may take a little additional time after their M.Phils. to submit synopses. Two separate ‘tracks’ to the same research degree should not be the rexult of an Ordinance.
  • No. 8.1 and 23 (ii): The residency period for PhD has been increased to three years from the date of submission of M.Phil. dissertation for integrated programme students. For Direct PhD students it is two years, unless the student was prescribed coursework, in which case it is also three.
  • No. 8.4: The Research-never-troubles-patriarchy clause, repeated from the M.Phil. Ordinance No. 16. Ditto the comments above.
  • No. 9(a)(iv): Lists the same Clause as No. 7 above.
  • No. 13: The final para lists the by-now familiar supervisor–research student ratios. Just as in the M.Phil. case above, this has been notified as part of an ‘Ordinance’, when it has not been not recorded in the minutes of the 267th EC and is only mentioned as an item to be discussed in the 142nd AC minutes.
  • No. 12: PhD scholars must publish at least one research paper in a refereed journal and make two paper presentations in conferences/seminars before the
    submission of the thesis. Again, this may prove to be a problem in some scientific and other experimental disciplines where research publications may not be able to proceed side-by-side, and research journals may take longer to process publications. The current practice of allowing publications to be submitted until the viva vice is more accommodating e of student publishing in good journals.
  • No26: Introduces the RAC. Ditto the comments to No. 15 above.

The JNUTA appeals to all teachers to comprehensively reject these ‘Ordinances’ in the AC meeting on the 9th of May 2017. 

 

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