Vice chancellors of 39 central universities resolved to install the national flag “prominently and proudly” in their respective campuses at a meeting chaired Thursday by HRD Minister Smriti Irani.
The decision, which is aimed at “instilling nationalism and pride” in students, was one of 12 resolutions passed by VCs and has come against the backdrop of a raging controversy over anti-India slogans allegedly raised at a February 9 meeting of students on the JNU campus.
The meeting of all central university heads was called mainly to sensitise them on discrimination on university campuses, an issue that has been in the spotlight since research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad Central University. One of five students suspended from the university hostel for allegedly assaulting an ABVP student leader, Rohith was a Dalit. The meeting was attending by all central university VCs except the head of Rajiv Gandhi University in Arunachal Pradesh.
Speaking to The Indian Express, JNU VC M Jagadesh Kumar said, “It is a matter of pride for JNU to install the national flag on our campus. We will identify a suitable place and work on it.” JNU already has the national flag installed on the terrace of its administration block. Asked if authorities would plant another one, he said, “Those are details we will look into later.”
Aligarh Muslim University VC Zameeruddin Shah said, “One VC proposed this idea and it was supported by everyone. It was felt that installing the national flag is the right thing to do and it will instil pride in everyone. I will try to institute this in a day or two.” Shah said the dimensions of the flag were neither discussed nor decided at the meeting.
Heads of Jamia Millia Islamia and Central University of Kashmir told The Indian Express that they too will identify a place to install the Tricolour soon.
The decision was met with mixed reactions. While former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah dismissed the idea, Rajya Sabha MP Naveen Jindal tweeted, “I have had a dream, a dream to see the Tiranga flying in all parts of the country. This is a dream come true for me.”
In 2004, the Supreme Court rule in Jindal’s favour, allowing all Indian citizens to hoist the national flag on all days of the year. After the judgement, he and his wife started the Flag Foundation of India which has installed monumental flag masts at more than 10 locations across the country including Central Park in the heart of New Delhi.
Abdullah tweeted, “If hoisting the flag was all it took to address feelings of alienation, problems of Kashmir & North East would have been solved decades ago.”
Hoisting of the national flag was one of 12 resolutions passed by the central university VCs. Here’s what else they intend to do:
Establishment of a grievance-redressal mechanism and appointment of an anti-discrimination officer all central universities.
To implement cost-effective and transparent access to higher education through online admissions.
To increase gross enrolment ratio to 30 per cent. Start classes in double shifts to overcome infrastructure and human resource constraints.
To offer new and innovative courses including inter-faith studies, citizenship and value education, farming technology and new media and youth.
Medium of instruction to be in English and an Indian language, preferably that of the state the university is situated in.
To have a suitable redressal mechanism to ensure healthy and conducive environment for women, students, faculty and staff.
To motivate students to become better citizens, inculcate dignity of labour and commitment for social uplift.
Speedy delivery of services through e-governance.
One week course on leadership and management at two IIMs for VCs, pro-VCs and registrar.
To establish a system of comprehensive guidance and counselling by experts.
In order to optimise academic output of the student community, universities to institutionalise peer-assisted learning through an active mentoring system involving senior students and faculty.