1. The making of a university

The making of a university

A new book by Rakesh Batabyal tries to critically analyse the working of the minds within the JNU

Published: February 9, 2015 12:08 AM

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) came into existence in 1969 but the idea of the university came about in the early 1960s as a second university to relieve Delhi University of the increasing number of students. Seventeen colleges located south of Kashmiri Gate were to be part of the new university. However, after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, the leadership decided to name the university after him, which made many members of Parliament and leading educationists oppose the idea that the new university bearing the name of a world leader should be a routine affiliating university. They wanted it to be unique university of international repute matching the reputation of Jawaharlal Nehru as a world leader.

Uniqueness was attempted to be brought in by federating many existing institutions such as IIT, ICAR, AIIMS, etc. However, this model did not work and the Parliamentary select committee as well as other members of Parliament suggested that the university be a PG university alone. This is how the university became primarily a research university. From its first set of appointments to the way its centres & schools evolved, the university was fortunate to have passionate association of dynamic intellectuals of the time. JNU: The Making of A University (HarperCollins, 567 pages, R799) by Dr Rakesh Batabyal tries to capture in a comprehensive manner the life of the university. It weaves together the global, national and local politics, and foregrounds these within the university, to critically analyse the working of the minds within the university. It also tries to provide the template for various assertions about this politically active university, placing these within a proper intellectual and political frame.

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