The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is all set to conduct convocation for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students for the first time in 46 years. While the date is yet to be released, this convocation for JNU PhD students will be the second of its kind and the first in 46 years. According to a notice by Registrar Pramod Kumar, “JNU will hold its second convocation to confer PhD degrees to students in the last week of February or the first week of March (the actual date will be notified soon),” as quoted by Indian Express. The first convocation for PhD students in JNU was conducted back in 1972 when the convocation address was delivered by renowned actor Balraj Sahni.
However, according to the report, his speech was changed by the then JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) president V C Koshy from the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) which had been approved by the then Vice-Chancellor G Parthasarathy, the night before the convocation. Rector II S C Garkoti while talking about the PhD convocation being conducted for the first time in 46 years said, “We have just initiated the process. Right now it’s only for PhD but we will extend it to Master’s level. We are thinking of holding the convocation every year, but if required, we may hold it every semester. However, that’s not finalised. We thought of having a convocation because students stay here for a very long time for their PhD. Once they are done with submissions, they only come back for the viva, and disappear. So we thought there should be a graceful exit for students, which will help develop a strong bond.”
Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, who had joined the institute in the year 1972 while recalling the first convocation said, “The basic debate was with Parthasarathy. He wanted to have a convocation but the students felt that their viewpoint should also be addressed in the convocation. He had called Balraj Sahni as the guest, and at that point, he didn’t want to cancel the convocation so he agreed. But Koshy gave a speech on ‘bourgeoisie-landlord regime’, poverty of the peasant and oppression of the working class — a very Marxist interpretation of the situation in India.”