Scholar-activist and Narendra Modi supporter Madhu Kishwar has been appointed to Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Academic Council to represent the School of Arts & Aesthetics, she confirmed to Scroll.in on Tuesday. However, her appointment has not gone down well with university faculty, including the dean of the School. Her tenure will last for two years.
A number of professors have claimed that her name was not on the list of nominees, The Indian Express reported. It is a norm for every school to suggest at least four names, from which the vice chancellor picks one.
The School of Arts and Aesthetics was given a letter a asking for suggestions for names of experts in the discipline, Dean Bishnupriya Dutt told the English daily. “We sent six names of people who are prominent in the field of arts. Her [Kishwar’s] name wasn’t part of the list because she has nothing to do with the study of the arts,” she said. “We are very confused and bewildered why these names were rejected and somebody who has no connection with our discipline was selected. It has never happened before in the 17 years of this school’s existence.”
However, Kishwar said she was definitely cut out for the job. “It is not as if I am some dhobi or some chaat-papdi-wali,” she told Scroll.in. My ideology may not match theirs but they have not seen my CV. They do not know I have made over 20 documentaries, a book on Bollywood and am working on another on traditional art performances. Nothing will satisfy them. Their problem is that I am not a slave, a tenner stamp.”
She also insisted that the controversy was needless. “As far as JNU and the Left is concerned, if somebody says a toilet must be cleared, there will be a controversy,” she said. “It’s in their DNA. They want only those who will gang up with them. They are upset they do not have another gang member. It is a 120-member Academic Council, it is such a small thing.”
JNUTA president Ayesha Kidwai said the VC had used “some mysterious rule” from 2005 to “illegally” give himself the powers to nominate members from outside the list provided by schools. However, JNU Rector Chintamani Mahapatra said the process was completely legal. “There are many provisions in the JNU statutes which give the VC the power to nominate people to different committees, including the Academic Council,” Mahapatra told The Indian Express. “Whether a VC is going to nominate on his own or take the advice of the Dean or the School is up to him. This is hundred per cent legal.”
Kishwar is an alumna of JNU and has written on gender issues and politics. She is also a co-founder of Manushi, a journal on women and society, and wrote Modi, Muslims and Media: Voices from Narendra Modi’s Gujarat in 2014.