Social Scientist. v 2, no. 14 (Sept 1973) p. 46.

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Jawaharlal Nehru University A Model University ?


THE Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) was established in 1969 by the Ontral Government with the hope that it would become a model institution of academic excellence, and an alternative to the present system of higher learning in the country. On the occasion of the inauguration and the first annual convocation of the University, in November 1969, President V V Giri, the Visitor of the University, said :

This will be not only a memorable day in the history of this University, but may well be a landmark in the development of higher education in the country. . . .

This is the hope of most of us that the Jawaharlal Nehru University should be a distinctive centre of higher education where the problems of our national development will receive special attention. Indira Gandhi, the Chancellor of the University, also expressed the hope that, the inauguration of the Jawaharlal Nehru University will also prove to be a milestone in Indian education. If, in the next few years we succeed in establishing at least a few centres of excellence of this type, which emphasise research and teaching at the highest level, adopt the powerful tools of inter-disciplinary research and effectively concentrate on the problems of the Indian situation, the foundation of the breakthrough in higher education will have been laid.

Regarding the aims ofJNU, patent contradictions emerged amongst the original designers9 views on the role and relevance of the University. While the Prime Minister spoke of "mass education", her colleague like the then Education Minister, V K R V Rao spoke of "elite education" aimed at reaching the "frontiers of knowledge". The Prime Minister on the one hand stated that,

we must bring education to all parts of our country, to all sections of our people, especially the weaker sections and those who have been underprivileged.

The Education Minister V K R V Rao, on the other hand, stated that the purpose of JNU was to,

. . . create, among our elite, a sense of social awareness and promote compassion and an attitude of identity with the masses. . . .

Let us take up some of these pronouncements and note their im-

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