Who is Santishree Pandit, the first woman VC of JNU?
Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, a professor at the Savitribai Phule Pune University was appointed as the new Vice-Chancellor (VC) at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by the Ministry of Education (MoE) on Monday. "President Ram Nath Kovind, who is Visitor to the University, has approved the appointment of Santishree Pandit as JNU Vice-Chancellor. Her appointment is for five years," a senior MoE official told PTI.
- Pandit (59) is the first woman VC appointed at the JNU.
- She will succeed Professor M Jagdesh Kumar, who has been appointed as the chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC) last week after a tumultuous stint.
- A portion of social media began criticizing Pandit's appointment, citing some controversial tweets against JNU protests, posted from an unverified Twitter account in her name.
"The immediate focus of this administration would be to provide clean administration, student-friendly and gender-sensitive environment for academic excellences (sic)," said Pandit. "We would strive to implement [National Education Policy] 2020 the vision of our Hon'ble PM especially in interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary areas of studies, JNU rising to greater heights of academics and research," she added. Pandit said creating Indo-centric narratives would be emphasized.
Pandit completed her M.Phil and Ph.D degrees in International Relations from JNU. Before moving to the University of Pune in 1992, she worked as a lecturer at Goa University in 1988. She was a member of the UGC, the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), and a Visitor's nominee to central universities. Pandit guided 29 Ph.D students in her entire career.
Pandit was born in St. Petersburg, USSR (now Russia) on July 15, 1962. Her mother taught Telugu and Tamil in the Leningrad Oriental Faculty Department. Pandit is a gold medalist graduate from the University of Madras and is native to Chennai. She can speak Tamil, Telegu, Hindi, Marathi, English, and Sanskrit. Since 1985, Pandit is working in the field of research.
Many have pointed out several grammatical mistakes in Pandit's first press release and questioned her appointment. "This press release from the new JNU VC is an exhibition of illiteracy, littered with grammatical mistakes (would strive vs will strive; students friendly vs student-friendly; excellences vs excellence). Such mediocre appointments serve to damage our human capital and our youth's future," tweeted BJP MP Varun Gandhi.
A Twitter account in Pandit's name gave strong comments on Indian and foreign society and politics which sparked controversy on social media. Tweets from the account referred to a number of JNU professors and students as "losers" and "extremist Naxal groups" who should be barred from campus. The account allegedly referred to St. Stephens College and Jamia Millia Islamia University as "communal campuses."