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.
The symbol is a graphic statement which stands for international academic exchange and onwards search of knowledge for the betterment of human being.
The overlapping circular segments of the design denote global interaction, creating a flame emitting enlightenment, this flame emerges out of the traditional Indian 'diya' (lamp)-a source of Light, Understanding and Brotherhood.
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. I.S. Thakur, Associate Dean of Students Mansi: When and how did your association with JNU begin?
Prof. Thakur: My association with JNU goes back to July 1977 when I joined School of Life Sciences as M.Sc. student. I completed by M. Phil (courses only) and Ph.D. in 1985. After that, I joined as a faculty member at G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, UK. I came back to my alma mater in the first week of January, 2004. I became the Warden of Periyar Hostel. In my wardenship, many of the problems were effectively solved in the hostel. The Dean of Students had great hopes on me as I was a JNU student. I had the opportunity to serve as Provost of Dakshinapuram in the year 2011. I became Associate Dean of Students in the first week of January, 2012.
Mansi: What are the changes that you have witnessed in the campus over the years?
Prof. Thakur: There has been a significant change in the University over the years. JNU is great University which has played significant role not only in the field of academics but has transformed the career of the number of students from economically backward sections of the country, who actually benefit by studying in JNU. I was associated with Science Schools where a lot of facilities were required for research and teaching. During my student days, the infrastructure was not up to the mark if you compare with other countries. Now we have better research facilities in the form of equipments, laboratories and teaching facilities. We have more amenities, but somehow academic sincerity has dwindled. The social life of JNU has also deteriorated significantly. Although, we have beautiful campus- earlier it was not so.
Mansi: How has the transition been from a faculty member to that of the administrative staff?
Prof. Thakur: Well, I was not much interested for administrative work initially as I am much involved in and enjoy teaching, scientific research and new discoveries. But we can never predict what is to come. As a senior warden I had to take very strong decisions in Periyar hostel. I was always very alert as a warden. My interaction with students, staff and warden colleagues of diverse backgrounds compelled me think about several issues. I learnt administrative work as warden from where I got a lot of confidence. As the provost, I made sure I was always available in the concerned hostel where there were problems. It is a wonderful experience if you have the time and are ready to take on responsibilities. It is my advice to all members of the faculty that they should become part of the administration at least once in their career, it changes one's personality.
Mansi: Can you tell us briefly about the achievements of the IHA in hostel allotment, and the problems you have faced in the process?
Prof. Thakur: I joined IHA as ADOS in the first week of January, 2012. I had primarily three main agenda – allotments of seats in hostels, Yamuna hostel and repair work in hostels, mainly old hostels in Dakshinapuram and Uttarakhand. In addition, coordination among the different components of the hostel administration was important. I had several meetings with the Office-Incharge, caretakers and Wardens to tackle the issue of allotment of seats in the hostels. After joining I tried to study the allotment processes as I was not much aware of it before. It is a very complex process – diversified programme of study – may be more than seventy disciplines; BA, MA/M.Sc./M.Tech.; M.Phil/Ph.D.; direct Ph.D.; categories like Delhi (P3), Outside Delhi (P1) and repetition of same course and degree (P2), and above that fixing the priority based on socioeconomic status etc., students coming through merit list is in last priority. The allotment priorities are as following – PH candidates, foreign nationals, girls, OBC candidates and then according to the merit list. I always explained it to the students. But even after that we allotted hostels as quickly as possible. In academic year 2012-13 the process of allotment started with in 24 hrs. We are thinking of ways to ensure more rapid allotment this year (2013-14).
During 2011-12, within one and half months we allotted more than 525 double seats (as also single seats) to students. As students joined their programmes the P1 and P2 categories were allotted hostels. But during 2012-13 the scenario was different. We do not have as many seats in the hostels as there has been a 10% increase in the total number of students. We have only 17 hostels but about 8000 students (including P3) at the moment. In the year 2012-13, there were 2479 new students, out of which 2259 applied for hostel. Among them 2072 are in the P1 category – out of which 1953 have been allotted hostels. The rest are staying as SR and TR, and some in dormitories. We allotted seats in CRS dormitories and somehow solved the accommodation problem. They would be allotted rooms the moment there are vacancies in the hostels next semester or earlier if possible. Research scholars may get accommodation in hostels during the summer break also as they have to work in the laboratories and library.
The first list for single-seaters came out on 4.1.2012 during academic year 2011-12; however, in 2012-13 we worked effectively and seniority list for single seaters was displayed on 29.9.2012. The moment there is vacancy in hostels for single or double seater, the staff allots the hostel immediately. During academic year 2013-14 applications for single-seaters will be accepted again in the first week of August. Allotment will begin from the first week of September.
We have acute shortage of rooms in the hostels. Since the hostels have a fixed capacity, providing accommodation to everybody as soon as they arrive on campus is not always easy. We are trying hard to accommodate them. In the year 2012-13, the IHA has allotted rooms within 24 hours of registration. The allotment for double-seaters began on 19.7.2012 and allotment was over within 2 months. As of now, all students have been accommodated (through 86 office orders) and we have no vacancy in any of the hostels. In 2013-14 we will work more effectively as far as allotment is concerned.
Mansi: How you will solve hostel allotment during academic year 2013-14?
Prof. Thakur: We are expecting 2700 new students this time (2013-14). I hope boys and girls are here with a 1:1 ratio. It will be a very difficult time as significant numbers of students have applied for 9B this year. The vacancies of seats in hostels are less compared to last year. I understand the problems of students coming from socio-economically weaker sections. Most of them have no place to stay in Delhi. They come from small towns or villages. We understand their problems. I believe students, teachers and staff have to rethink seriously about this. We have no proper monitoring system. Students stay illegally while working and deprive economically backward students from getting rooms on time. We have to think seriously about making Ph.D. students complete their degree in time and there would be no 9B.
IHA Administration together with VC and Rector worked effectively this year and now we have full CRS dormitory where double seaters and more rooms are available. Approximately 200 students will be accommodated. The mess facilities under contactor will be provided to students. There will be one warden who will look after day to day work. In addition, other dormitories will be functional for both boys and girls like last year.
Mansi: Tell us something about the challenges you have faced regarding the issue of the Yamuna Hostel. Prof. Thakur: As far as the issue of the Yamuna Hostel is concerned, it has been a challenging issue in the past, especially in light of the agitation. The IHA tried its best to sort out the problems. We had a management committee meeting twice in the year (2012-13), and 7 sub-committee meetings. I believe in criticism if it is positive and is approached in a disciplined way. We invited student representatives to all these meetings. I am happy to say that we have been able to solve all the problems that the residents of that hostel faced in the past.
Mansi: What have been the achievements of the IHA in your term?
Prof. Thakur: Firstly, the creation of a fully functional Provost's office which serves as a crucial link between the IHA and the students.
We have prepared the CRS dormitory (Block A and Block B) with all the facilities like a hostel. We have provided state-of-the-art gym equipment to all the hostels and we are trying to introduce the use of internet in the administrative and financial work of the IHA. One hostel, Godavari, is using this facility. Other hostels should try and implement the same. Students, Wardens and Provosts can discuss this with the Branch Manager of SBI, JNU. IHA is also facilitating it soon.
As indicated earlier, we have old hostels located in Dakshinapuram and Uttarakhand where there are acute maintenance problems. In addition, there are always maintenance issues in new hotels as well. We are solving smaller problems with the help of IHA Junior Engineer and staff. However, there are bigger maintenance related problems where we are facing a lot of difficulties. JNU VC and Rector are trying their best to solve the problems. Rector's visits to the hostels have inspired the maintenance staffs. IHA administration is also trying its best to solve the problems.
Lastly, for whatever the IHA has accomplished, I shall have to thank all of the staff, the Vice Chancellor, and the Rector who have been very cooperative with me. We have managed to achieve complete transparency in our allotment process.
Mansi: What are your opinions about the installation of the CCTVs? Prof. Thakur: I think that if they are not abused for nefarious purposes, the introduction of the CCTVs would prove to be beneficial for the university.
Mansi: Would you share with us some of your memories of your life here?
Prof. Thakur: I was very lucky to have been a student of the School of Life Sciences. I would like to mention my Professors who besides being exemplary teachers are great human beings – Prof. P.N. Srivastava, Prof. Sivtosh Mukherjee, Prof. Ashis Dutta, Prof. Kasturi Dutta, Prof. Sipra Guha Mukherjee and present VC Prof. S.K. Sopory – great teachers, researchers and best human beings. I stayed first at Ganga and then at Sutlej – I have always found the people of this campus very friendly and helpful.
Mansi: What message would you like to give the JNU student community?
Prof. Thakur: Work hard. Count your blessings and use them to help you grow into ideal human beings.
Dr. Ramesh C. Gaur, University Librarian, has been nominated as a Member of Editorial Board of DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology and also nominated to the ICSSR-NASSDOC Committee on Documentations Services, and Research Information (CDS&RI).
Dr. Divya Goel, Research Scholar, School of Biotechnology who recently completed her Ph.D. under Prof. Rakesh Bhatnagar was awarded the “Edward Jenner Poster Prize” for presenting her research work as a poster in the international conference “6th Vaccine and ISV Congress” organized by Elsevier, in Shanghai. Eminent Scientists were invited to talk about the ongoing research and new strategies in the field of vaccines. A total of 125 posters were presented by research scholars from all over the world. Dr. Divya Goel was chosen for the best poster award by a three member committee. Dr. Divya Goel has worked on “Development of Omp25 based recombinant vaccine against brucellosis” during her Ph.D. and she presented the same as a poster in the conference.
Mr. Mohammad Ahmad, Research Scholar, Centre of Arabic and African Studies, SLL&CS, JNU was honored with the “Best Research Paper Award” in the one day National Seminar on “Prison Literature in the Arab World” conducted by the Department of Arabic, Persian and Urdu, University of Madras, Chennai.
Microsoft releases English-Urdu Machine Translation System in partnership with Dr. Girish Nath Jha, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies
On International Mother Language Day 2013, Microsoft Corporation at Redmond, USA, in collaboration with JNU, released its English-Urdu Machine Translation System as part of its online translator portal, Bing. The system can be used at www.bing.com/translator with English as source language and Urdu as target language.
This is version 1 of the system, and it is hoped that it will improve significantly with usage. The contributions of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Dr. Girish Nath Jha have been acknowledged in the partners' page at www.microsoft.com/enus/translator/partners.aspx.
REACHING OUT TO THE UNREACHED
“Central Library, JNU provided laptops to visually impaired research scholars at JNU”
The Central Library, JNU distributed laptops to visually impaired research scholars of JNU in a function organized at the JNU Convention Centre on 4 March 2013. In this function Laptops were distributed to visually impaired research scholars by Professor S.K. Sopory, Vice-Chancellor, JNU and Shri P.K. Pincha, Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India.
In his welcome address Dr. Ramesh C. Gaur, University Librarian, JNU said that the distribution of laptops to visually impaired researchers will help them access all r-resources available at the Central Library and thus enhance their research works. The key focus is to reach out to the unreached. In his address, he explained the present system, facilities and new additions to the system and services at the Helen Keller Unit of Central Library, JNU. At present the Helen Keller Unit has 20 computers, 20 scanners, 2 Braille Printers, and other equipment for people with visual disabilities. Software such as JAWS, Kurzweil and other assistive technologies (software) support the reading, writing and learning for visually challenged researchers/ students by converting print or electronic text to speech. At present, these facilities are availed of by around 70 visually impaired researchers/students (B.A., M.A., M.Phil. & Ph.D.) of various disciplines enrolled in the University. The Helen Keller Unit of Central Library, JNU has also extended its services to all Schools and Centres of the University. The library also provides Digital Voice Recorders & CD-ROMs to visually challenged researchers/students for their research use. To provide information and give assistance to all visually impaired students, the Central Library is continuously organizing orientations and learning programmes. This helps researchers and students stay abreast with the latest developments in their field. The basic aim of the Central Library, JNU is to reach out to all the researchers/students with disabilities wherever they are and to provide them the best technological support in achieving their set goals. Creation of Portal for visually impaired, training in use of open source tools for them and training of the library staff to help them perform better are some of the plans for future implementation at the Central Library, JNU. Similar facilities will be provided to visually impaired Faculty of the University.
Prof. S.K. Sopory, Vice-chancellor in his inaugural speech mentioned that JNU is working to achieve its objective of creating a barrier free campus for persons with various disabilities. A survey report has already been prepared in this regard and will soon be implemented. He also stressed upon the need for creating digital contents particularly for Indian publications for visually challenged researchers/students at JNU. In this regard, he announced setting up of a Digitization Centre at the Central Library, JNU to cater to the digitization needs of visually impaired researchers/students at JNU.
Shri P.K. Pincha, Chief Commissioner for persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India appreciated the efforts of the Central Library, JNU and said that the Central Library, JNU should play a larger role in creating awareness amongst all universities in India. He also suggested, setting up of a National Resource Centre for Persons with Disabilities at the Central Library, JNU. Shri Pincha assured all possible support from his Ministry for setting up such a centre at the JNU Library. Shri Pincha also suggested that the JNU should organise National level training and awareness programme on the use of Assistive Technologies.
As per the above suggestion, the Central Library, JNU has already initiated action on setting up of a Digitization Centre. A proposal on setting up of a National Resource Centre for persons with disabilities will soon be submitted to the competent authority.