Over 1,900 academics, students, activists, lawyers, filmmakers and other individuals have signed a statement of solidarity with the 48 teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) against whom the university administration has initiated disciplinary action.
Among the signatories are noted academics at international institutes such as Columbia University, New York University, University of California, Princeton University, Syracuse University, Sciences Po, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania and John Hopkins University.
The 48 teachers, former and current office-bearers of the JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA), had been issued a “memorandum” signed by the vice-chancellor for participating in a one-day strike last July. The memorandum cites the Central Civil Service (Conduct) rules according to which “no government servant shall resort to or in any way abet any form of strike…in connection with any matter pertaining to his service”.
The statement resists the application of the CCS rules, alleging that these “introduce censorship as a condition of service. Indian academics will not be able to engage in any critiques of government policy, and will also not be able to fulfill their professional duties freely…”
The statement also objects to the rules as those under them cannot be a member of any political party: “The application of this rule would mean that central university teachers must, in order to preserve their jobs, renounce principled subscription to political parties, any organisation that takes part in politics, political movements or activities…”
Apart from this, a number of teachers’ associations of universities have also issued statements of solidarity including from Jamia Millia Islamia, University of Hyderabad, Aligarh Muslim University, Allahabad University, Visva Bharati, Tripura University, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Ambedkar University and IGNOU.