JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit expresses her disappointment over dip in govt funds

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JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit has expressed her disappointment over the lack of increase in the budget allocation to the premier university over the past several years.

Speaking at The Indian Express’s Idea Exchange session, Pandit said, “When you give us ratings, give us the money as well. Today, we are cash strapped. We are running at a Rs 130 crore deficit. You can’t do this to an institution you rate as number one.”

She added that the JNU administration relies heavily on academic grants from other sources to pay the salaries of the staff.

JNU has retained its position as the second-best university in the country for the fifth year in a row as per the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings.

Pandit, who was appointed at the V-C in February this year, said JNU’s identity was marred by the “lunatic fringe” at the university which aimed to create “disturbance and violence” just for the sake of it. This may have resulted in the lack of the increase in the fund sanctioned to JNU, as compared to other public institutions, she said.

“JNU cannot be penalised because of that group,” Pandit, an alumna of JNU, said.

The Union Ministry of Education on July 18, in response to a question by Congress MP T N Prathapan in the Lok Sabha, said the annual percentage increase in funding was the lowest for JNU among the five central universities—Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Rajiv Gandhi University, and Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

According to the reply, funding for JNU went from Rs 336.91 crore in 2014-15 and was raised only marginally to Rs 407.47 crore in 2021-22. However, the funding for BHU has almost doubled from Rs 669.51 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1,303.01 crore in 2021-22. Rajiv Gandhi University also saw a sharp rise in funding over the last seven years—from Rs 39.93 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 102.79 crore in 2021-22.

The education ministry justified the disbursal of funds to these varsities by saying money is allocated on the basis of “requirement projected by the university, the expenditure incurred in the previous year and the availability of funds.”

When asked if the misrepresentation of JNU’s image as “anti-national” may have influenced how the government funds the university, she said,  “I’d only say that the leadership in JNU must place it properly. It’s been seven months since I’ve come. The government is very receptive.”