In conversation with An Interview with Prof. Deepak Kumar, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies and Chairperson, Media Research Centre, School of Social Sciences

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A University stands for humanism. For tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards ever higher objectives. If the Universities discharge their duties adequately, then it is well with the Nation and the People.

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The design is also representative of the rose-bud closely associated with the name of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru.

JNU News is a bimonthly journal of Jawaharlal Nehru University. It serves to bridge the information gap and tries to initiate constant dialogue between various consitituents of the University community as well as with the rest of the academic world. Views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily of JNU News. All articles and reports published in it may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.

In conversation with…..

An Interview with Prof. Deepak Kumar, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies and Chairperson, Media Research Centre, School of Social Sciences

Lakshmi: When did your association with JNU begin?

Prof. Kumar: Well I've been teaching here for the past twelve years but I knew the place from '75 onwards so I think 70 onwards when it was formed, I was studying at Patna University at that time. And of course Delhi was far off and a new institution being established. I wouldn't leave my university – Patna University - for a new experiment but I knew that this experiment was going to be successful. We used to discuss in Patna the relevance of a new Central University coming up and bringing very fine scholars from different parts of the country to JNU so we knew that this will be an important educational experiment and in '75 when I came to Delhi looking for a job then JNU was an obvious place to visit. I stayed in one of your hostels – I don't remember if I was a legal guest or an illegal guest – but this was part of the fun to be in JNU. And I immediately got a job at Kurukshetra University to teach History. I remember as a teacher at Kurukshetra University I looked to the curriculum at JNU as a model. We tried to introduce changes in our respective curriculums based on JNU, and of course its spiritual views, discussions, the quality of debate, especially in the '70s has been legendary. I think it influenced the whole generation, so in that sense I've been a beneficiary of JNU. And I joined JNU late in life but as I said JNU as an educational experiment did influence most of us.

Wafa: How different was the teaching experience at JNU from your time at Kurukshetra University?

Prof. Kumar: JNU is mini-India, so that is our plus point. Unlike other universities, we go the students' doorstep to conduct our exams and get them. So that makes the real, real difference. To teach in JNU is also challenging in the sense that we get students from all strata of the society, different backgrounds, and it makes teaching more interesting, varied and to a large extent exciting.

Wafa: You're instrumental in setting up the new Centre for Media Research in the School of Social Sciences. Can you tell us more about it? What are the basic aims you have in mind at this stage?

Prof. Kumar: A couple of months ago, I heard about 3 centres being established in the university thanks to the UGC committee that has visited us, and in its wisdom sanctioned these centres. Media has always been significant from the point of view of Indian democracy, Indian civil society and to a large extent our culture. I'm sure other centres in the School of Social Sciences, in the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies must have promoted studies related to media – at the MPhil dissertation level, at the PhD level, etc. In the country, we have institutions devoted to media studies which cater to editing qualities, reporting, and several other aspects of journalism; we have IIMC on our own campus. However, a need was felt where media should be subjected to rigorous research through interdisciplinary perspectives. The Centre for Media Research would try to serve this need. When it will be different from media studies, we would be basically focussed on MPhil and PhD work which would scrutinise the significance of, relevance of, evolution of media in our country from a comparative perspective of different social science disciplines. A historian, a sociologist, a media expert, a political scientist or law scholar interested in the role of media would require them to look at media from these perspectives. I want to begin on a humble note. I want the centre to become a centre of excellence on this important theme – gradually, slowly. We may like to begin the courses, advertise the courses in 2012 but before that a lot of homework has to be done. We have to think of the curriculum which has to be different, has to be new according to JNU's tradition, and I'm thinking to organise a brainstorming meeting sometime in December or early next year of the scholars interested in media research in different parts of the country to tell us what the gaps are, where we can provide an incisive analytical view and how would we formulate the curriculum, where do we get the faculty from - all this has to be thought out and I think in a year's time we should be able to organise a national level seminar and see that the course curriculum etc are put on a sound footing before we advertise its beginning in February 2012. There are several dimensions which we need to keep in mind – I've prepared a small vision document where we have tried to locate the niche areas – for example media and civil society, Indian economy, culture, science, environment consciousness. Fortunately I am not obsessed with political dimensions which occupy a lot of media attention. There's a lot of politics in our media, whether electronic or otherwise. But I'd like to diversify, personally, it depends on the faculty which comes in and their interest but personally I'd like a less political emphasis on our curriculum and see that the marginal sections of the society- women, sports, science and technology, our folk culture and dimensions which have not so far been adequately probed are reflected in the curriculum and the dissertation which our students work on.

I'm sure the Centre will have a bright future. I'm already getting almost every week a couple of letters and queries, telephone calls about the centre and about the plans for it. So I'm sure that when the centre is properly set up, the faculty will be enthused with the response which we are likely to get. My hunch is that we are going to be one of the most popular centres, and I also hope that we would cater to an important social need and requirement. Media has become enormously influential in our country and elsewhere as well. It has entered our bedroom, entered our study, it's everywhere and there are many things which can be said as its strong point but there are many others which should and could have been avoided, and media needs some kind of introspection which our centre would aim at providing.

Lakshmi: Since it's a very inter-disciplinary approach that you're going to take, will you be collaborating with a lot of other Centres?

Prof. Kumar: Of course, of course, we look forward to collaboration not only within JNU but even outside. Recently I visited Chennai and had the opportunity to meet the faculty at the Asian College of Journalism and they were very enthused. I met the director Mr Sasi Kumar, Aravind Sivaramakrishnan, Dr Nagarajan, the faculty, and they were so happy and we discussed quite a bit. So definitely the centre would be a collaborative effort, not only within JNU the different centres we seek to collaborate with and seek the help of in terms of not only formulating curriculum but also as guest lecturers, to help run the courses, organise meetings, seminars etc. You know, a centre would become vibrant only if it's very open. I look forward to all the centres contributing.

We have a vision statement, but I want to emphasise on that we're beginning on a very humble note, not great promises. Once it starts moving, once the Centre is on the right track, then only we would think of saying we've developed a vision again. It's a vision that keeps evolving and growing. And with the help of the colleagues who agree to serve with us and other colleagues who are in the JNU community, and the whole JNU community- not just from one centre or school, the faculty and students as a whole, because I know that media affects the lives of all of us and they would be interested.

Lakshmi: What message would you have to the JNU community?

Prof. Kumar: I would seek their wholehearted support. As I said, media is all around us, media serves a great educational purpose as well as serves our social and other requirements – social, political, democratic requirements. The JNU community is an intellectually conscious, politically vibrant community which has contributed to media; many of our students are in media these days. I expect that they would give us their feedback, contribute to us in terms of curriculum framing, in terms of new ideas- what the centre should be, what ought to be done, frames of reference, in future seminar themes and of course, their participation.

Interviewed by : Wafa Hamid and Lakshmi Menon

Research Scholars, Centre for English Studies, SLLCS


New Deans/ Chairpersons

  • Prof. A.K. Dhingra as Chairperson, Centre of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Latin American Studies, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies

  • Prof. K.P. Vijayalakshmi as Chairperson, Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, School of International Studies

  • Dr. Alka Acharya, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies as Foreign Students Advisor

  • Prof. Binod Khadria, Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies, School of Social Sciences tenure of appointment as part time Chief Vigilance Officer has been extended for further period of two years


  • Shri Ganga Ram as Helper Mess, IHA

  • Shri Bhairav Dutt as Helper Mess, IHA


  • Dr. Padmini Mongia, Associate Professor, Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies

  • Prof. Rakesh Kumar Gupta, Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences

  • Prof. S.K. Sareen, Centre for English Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies

  • Sh. Vijay Kumar Mehra, Assistant, Collaboration Unit

  • Sh. Chander Pal – I , Sanitary Guide, Sanitation Cell

  • Sh. Ram Kanwar-I, Security Guard, Security Branch

  • Sh. Dilmohan Singh, DriverAdministration


Prof. Jayati Ghosh, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences has received the International Research Prize in Social Sciences 2010 of the NordSud Fondazione Pescarabruzzo, Itlay.

Prof. N. Kamala, Centre for French & Francophone Studies, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies has been honoured on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Association of Indian Teachers of French (AITF), with a Gold medal and a certificate in recognition of their contribution to the development of French & Francophone Studies in India.

Prof. Kiran Chaudhry, Centre for French & Francophone Studies, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies has been honoured on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Association of Indian Teachers of French (AITF), with a Gold medal and a certificate in recognition of their contribution to the development of French & Francophone Studies in India.

]Dr. Dinesh Mohan, School of Environmental Sciences has been honored with the Hiyoshi Environmental Award 2009 given by Hiyoshi Corporation Japan for outstanding contribution in doing fundamental research for Environmental Conservation and Protection. The award comprises of a momento, cash prize and a ation.

Dr. Ashish Agnihotri, Centre for French & Francophone Studies, School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies has been honoured on the occasion of their 25th Anniversary of the Association of Indian Teachers of French (AITF), with a Gold medal and a certificate in recognition of their contribution to the development of French & Francophone Studies in India.

Dr. Sanjay Bhardwaj, South Asian Studies, Centre for South Central Southeast Asian & South West Pacific Studies, School of International Studies has been awarded "Sir Ratan Tata Fellowship-2009-10" by London School of Economics and Political Science, London.There is only one successful application per year for the Fellowship. He will be placed in LSE to pursue his research on 'Bangladesh studies'.

Dr. Atul Kumar Johri, School of Life Sciences was awarded an Indo-US Research Professorship to visit Rodert Stroud at the University of California, San Francisco to perform a research project entited "Structural Studies of a Phosphate transporter gene (PiPT) from endophytic fungus "Piriformospora Indica".

Mr. Subir Rana, Research Scholar, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, paper entitled "Prostitution in the Asian Region: How Legitimate Is Its legalisation" has been selected for presentation at the 2nd Congress of the Asian Association of Women's Studies under the theme "Debating Gender Justice in Asia" to be held from 9-11 December, 2010 in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.

Campus Activities

Mr. Shakti Prasad Srichandan, Research Scholar, Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies presenting his acclaimed painting – 'Blood and Buddha: The Legend of Ashoka the Great' to Vice Chancellor, Prof. B.B Bhattacharya.

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Conference on India and ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific: Strategies and Challenges

The Centre for South, Central, Southeast Asian and Southwest Pacific Studies organised an international conference in the School of International Studies. The theme of the conference was "India and ASEAN in the Asia-Pacific: Strategies and Challenges." The seminar saw participation from the ASEAN Embassies and High Commissions, Delhi-based Universities and Research Institutes, distinguished scholars from different universities based in the provinces. The seminar dealt with different aspects of India-ASEAN Relations in a wider context of fundamental transformations taking place in the Asia-Pacific in terms of structures of relationships, avenues for cooperation and integration, and new-emerging challenges facing the region. Prof. R Kumar, Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the delegates of the seminar and congratulated Prof. Ganganath Jha, Convenor of the Seminar, for taking such an initiative.

Amb. Shashank, the former Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs inaugurated the conference and delivered the keynote address. While acknowledging the centrality of ASEAN in India's eastward engagement, he laid emphasis on important contribution of ASEAN in India's strategic presence in the Asia-Pacific. Amb. Shashank also highlighted India's importance for ASEAN as a vibrant democracy, in the fight against terrorism, and in tackling several other non-traditional security issues.

The first session focused on the Emerging Strategic Landscape in the Asia-Pacific marked by multiple stories of growth, the rise of new power centres, shift from labour intensive economies to capital-intensive economies, signs of multiple democratic revolutions taking place within existing authoritarian regimes, intense competition over resources, rapidly expanding canvas of ASEAN multilateral processes, and growing demand for a new Pan-Asia-Pacific Security architecture that could address new security challenges facing the region. Prof. Varun Sahni, Vice-Chancellor of Jammu University, suggested "cooperative security" as an alternative for a stable order in Asia that will undermine China, reduce the U.S. influence, and facilitate the development of Asia as a political and security community. However, concerns are being expressed about limited progress achieved in the past through such measures. The ASEAN Regional Forum in this context was discussed in detail.

During the second session, 'Towards Asian Economic Community' speakers highlighted the growing importance of Asia in global economics, multiple efforts with the centrality of ASEAN towards integration in East Asia, and immense opportunities the process of integration offers to both India and ASEAN economies in the coming decades. However these processes have also faced challenges from different quarters in the form of lack of consensus over the nature and scope of East Asian economic integration, efforts of some countries towards exclusive regionalism and prevailing unwillingness among some countries in the region to incur short-term losses for long-term benefits. While India finds itself getting more and more integrated with the East Asian economies, it has faced resistance from China and some ASEAN countries against its inclusion in the East Asian economic community-building process.

The third session on 'Multilateral Institutions in the Asia-Pacific: A Road Ahead' saw an in-depth discussion over – the state of affairs of existing multilateral institutions, the growing recognition of the multilateralism as a standard strategic practice by the countries of the Asia-Pacific for interest emphasized on the broad contours of emerging strategic architecture in the region, the interests of key actors in the region, and the inter-relationships of these key players within the region. Two case specific experiences – India's soft power engagement with ASEAN and Australia's Asia policy – drew special attention. Though speakers applauded efforts being taken by the Indian government towards people-to-people contact, cooperation in education sector, cultural diplomacy, capacity building programmes in Southeast Asia, concerns were expressed regarding the low level of these engagements, especially when compared with the efforts made by countries like China or Japan. Amb. A N Ram identified the soft-power based engagement as the third phase of India's Look East Policy since 2008-09, and expressed hope that India's ASEAN+1 summit level interaction will soon be elevated to ASEAN+4 framework of engagement.

The fourth session, 'Emerging Security Challenges in the Asia-Pacific', was chaired by the Malaysian High Commissioner, H.E. Dato' Tan Seng Sung. The discussion highlighted (a) prevailing security challenges to the region with energy security, maritime security, threat of a rising China, and (b) country-specific threat perceptions and responses. There has been a growing energy demand from the rising Asian economies, consequent energy shortages, which, in turn, has led to the rise of global energy prices. China's rise as a threat and maritime security were identified as key security issues for Japan.

The last session on, 'India and the Asia-Pacific: New Areas of Engagement', of the conference deliberated over some of the pertinent issues facing India's long-term strategy in the Asia-Pacific, taking into consideration newer dimensions being added to the country's eastward engagement.

Two important dimensions that drew attention from the speakers were – expansion in the geographical canvas of the Look East Policy with the effective incorporation of East Asia and the South Pacific, and growing linkages between India's north-eastern states and Southeast Asia. The presentations also highlighted fundamental transformation taking place in the structures of relations in the Asia-Pacific and their increasing influence on India's bilateral relations, with special reference to India-Australia strategic engagement. Identifying the Asia-Pacific as 'the region of the future,' Amb. Rajiv Sikri emphasized on the need of building the network of FTAs, the development of India's northeast, focus on the BIMSTEC, and enhancing maritime cooperation with the countries of the Asia-Pacific. It was also suggested that the ASEAN-centric foreign policy approach gave New Delhi opportunities to build formidable institutional linkages including bilateral relations with select countries. In fact, the future of India's greater role in the region also depends on the progress made in the BIMSTEC and the Mekong-Ganga Sub-region.

In his concluding remarks, the Chairperson of the CSCSEASWPS, Prof. Ganganath Jha thanked all the participants, speakers, the chairs and students who took part in the proceedings of this two-day conference.

Ganga Nath Jha,Chairperson

Centre for South Central Southeast

Asian & South West Pacific Studies, SIS

Lecture on "The Lost Lemuria and the Kumari Continent"

The Centre of Indian Languages organized a lecture on The Lost Lemuria and the Kumari Continent on 17 September, 2010. Dr. N. Mahalingam a industrialist scholar of Tamilnadu made a presentation of the research on the subject which he has been pursuing with a team of experts in astronomy, Vedic studies; ancient history and archaeology. He proposed an alternate view of the history of Ancient Asia heavily relying on a re-examination of the nine ancient calendar systems including the Saptarishi calendar. Some of the dates proposed by him are; Asoka lived in 12 B.C and Lord Buddha in the 18th century B.C. In the second part of his lecture he talked about the theory of existence of Lemuria, a submerged land beyond in the Indonesian group of islands. After the great deluge three groups of people moved in different directions, the third being the people of Kumarikandam who moved out around one lakh years ago. He correlates it with the reference in Tamil literature to the lost Kumarikandam. He opined that the Indus Valley culture is also as old as these and the later Indian culture is the offshoot of the same culture. A lively debate followed in which his views were challenged. The speaker agreed that it is only a conjecture based on scientific study of old calendars and archaeology which need to be substaintiated.

Prof. Sankar Basu, Dean of SLL&CS was the chair and Prof. Krishnaswamy Nachimuthu, Chairperson of CIL introduced the speaker.

At the end Dr. N. Mahalingam presented two sets of about two dozen books published in English and Hindi on studies and translation of Tamil classics to the JNU Library.
Krishnaswamy Nachimuthu, Chairperson,

Centre of Indian Languages, SLL&CS

: JNUNewsArchives
JNUNewsArchives -> In conversation with jnu news interviewed New Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sudhir Kumar Sopory
JNUNewsArchives -> In conversation with An Interview with Prof. R. Rajaraman, Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics, School of Physical Sciences Mansi: How and when did your journey with jnu begin? How has your experience been here over these years?
JNUNewsArchives -> In conversation with An interview with Prof. Rama Baru, Chairperson, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health. School of Social Sciences
JNUNewsArchives -> In conversation with An interview with Prof. S. N. Malakar, Chairperson, Centre for African Studies, sis
JNUNewsArchives -> In conversation with An interview with Prof. Sudha Bhattacharya, Dean Wafa
JNUNewsArchives -> In conversation with An Interview with Prof. I. S. Thakur, Associate Dean of Students Mansi: When and how did your association with jnu begin? Prof. Thakur
JNUNewsArchives -> In conversation with an Interview with Prof. Mridula Mukherjee Director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

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