JNU VC Santishree Pandit laments fall in govt funds, says deficit of Rs 130 crore

JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit has expressed her disappointment over the lack of increase in budgetary allocation to the flagship university in recent years.

Speaking to The Indian ExpressAt the brainstorming session, Pandit said, “When you give us scores, give us the money too. We are cash-strapped today. We have a deficit of Rs 130 crore. You can’t do that in a institution you consider number one.”

He added that the JNU administration is heavily dependent on academic grants from other sources to pay staff salaries.

JNU has maintained its position as the second best university in the country for the fifth consecutive year as per the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF).

Pandit, who was appointed to the VC in February this year, said JNU’s identity was affected by the university’s “crazy fringe” that aimed to create “disturbance and violence” just for the sake of it. This may have led to the lack of increase in sanctioned fund at JNU, compared to other public institutions, he said.

“JNU cannot be penalized because of this group,” said Pandit, an alumnus of JNU.

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

According to the response, JNU’s funding rose from Rs 336.91 crore in 2014-15 and increased only marginally to Rs 407.47 crore in 2021-22. However, BHU’s funding 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 increase in funding over the past seven years: from Rs 39.93 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 102.79 crore in 2021-22.

The Ministry of Education justified the disbursement of funds to these universities by saying that the money is allocated based on “the projected demand of 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, he said, “I would just say that the JNU leadership needs to position it properly. Seven years ago I haven’t been here for months. The government is

very receptive.”

“I got Rs 56 crore thanks to Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, who is an ex-student of JNU and my senior, and the minister, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan. We did not even apply for eminence. How will the government consider us? ” he said, mentioning that the Union Finance Minister, also an alumnus of JNU, had been his superior in the university.

Pandit added that the central government has also asked him to prepare a budget to understand the needs of the university.

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