VC has says it‘s the first step towards a new tradition for JNU but the students tend to differ

The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, hosted second convocation earlier this week, 46 years after the first one held in 1972. While M. Jagdeesh Kumar, vice chancellor, JNU in his address said that the convocation would become an annual tradition, students and teachers at the varsity have a different say. The graduating PhD holders also showed mixed response.

The convocation ceremony was held off-campus at the AICTE auditorium and around 400 students, who completed their PhDs between January 2017 and June 2018, were conferred with Doctor of philosophy degrees by VK Saraswat, Chancellor, JNU and member of the .

Kumar said, “this convocation is not a mere ceremonial gathering, but is a meeting of bright minds under one roof with a shared mission towards our society”. He added, “this tradition of conducting convocation, that we have started with you after 46 years, will continue.”

However, many students do not consider this to be in line with the JNU ideology. “We have never had a culture of celebrating with pomp and show at JNU. We have students coming from all walks of life. Even those below the poverty line study at JNU because it is a government-subsidised university. If we start hosting events like this then students will suffer peer pressure. Trends like inviting celebrities to make the show a success, to wear better clothes etc would start developing which is exactly opposite to the JNU ideology,” said Simone , vice president, JNU students union (JNUSU).

JNUSU had boycotted the event. Dozens of students did not attend the ceremony and one of the graduates reportedly refused to shake hands with the VC while obtaining the degree as a sign of protest. None of the JNU teachers, except the ones who had submitted their thesis this year from JNU attended the ceremony.

Khan further said that students were asked to pay from their pocket to attend the ceremony and yet allowed to bring only one person along with them that too a parent. “The students who are passing PhD are around 30 years of age and they are asked to bring only one parent along, that too after proper Aadhar verification. They are not children should have been allowed to bring whoever they wanted,” said Khan.

Many students also objected to singing of Vandana at the event considering it to have religious connotation. Students also objected to the fact that the event was held off-campus while there were enough auditoriums in JNU that could have capacitated the attendees.

The dress code for the convocation was also restricted to white Indian wear including suits and sarees for women and payjama for men. Many women also objected to the attire. “I am a married women and wearing a white saree has entirely different connotation in our household. While conferring a degree is a good initiative, students should be given some flexibility keeping in mind the different beliefs we all come from,” said a fresh PhD graduate requesting anonymity.

Ironically, VC while addressing the gathering said, “JNU is committed to this freedom of thought and critical thinking with an emphasis on our fundamental responsibilities.”
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