I salute you, JNU!

I have spent all my working life at medical academic Institutions, and have in the latter part of my career been involved in various aspects of medical education including at a policy level. And being a research scientist, have also had long associations with many scientists in a host of Universities and research organizations, including JNU.  But I must admit, that it was only now that I learn of the unique and wonderful admission policy of JNU,  which is

“According to JNU’s admission policy, each district in India is divided into four quartiles. Quartile 1 includes most backward areas and quartile 2 backward areas. Quartiles 3 and 4 are relatively advanced areas.

Students seeking admission in JNU after completing the qualifying degree from institutions in the quartile 1 area get five weightage points. Those obtaining a degree from institutions in quartile 2 areas get three points. Girl students get five weightage points.

S. Chandrasekaran, a former coordinator (evaluation and admission) at JNU, said the policy of giving deprivation weightage had existed for more than three decades. He said no other university in India gave such weightage.

Every district and region in the district is assessed on the basis of criteria such as agriculture production, labour pattern and literacy, among others. The deprivation weightage does not affect the reservations for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes, he said.

“SCs, STs and OBCs constitute about 50 per cent of the total students. Because of the deprivation criteria, I am sure another 10 per cent would be getting admission. So, 60 per cent should be marginalised sections,” Chandrasekaran said. The university had tweaked the deprivation weightage this year -while earlier,  weightage was given to students, completing their last qualifying examination from institutions in backward areas. students who had done their schooling in backward areas and then gone to a college in the state capital or in advanced districts were being ignored. The changed policy will give differential weightage to students based on their schooling, graduation and post-graduation – now a student will get six points, the break-up being three for schooling, two for graduation and one for post-graduation from an institution in a most backward area. Women students will get four weightage points from this year. The weightage is added to the entrance score while selecting the students.”

It appears that because of this kind of selection process, parents of 40 per cent of JNU students earn less than Rs 6,000 a month. It has more than 60%  students from backwards communities, none of which prevents it from being among the best academically performing Universities in the country.Why was this model not adopted by other Institutions established after JNU?  I would really like to know how this system came to be, at JNU, and even more importantly, how it got the approvals of the powers that be!

In my own profession, there is constant talk on the vagaries in the selection processes in medical education.  The Government has been battling with problems of poor manning of peripheral health delivery centers leading to lack of access to even very basic health care in a large parts of the country. In fact, the less developed and/or more remote the area, less the chances of getting staff to man the health centers.  It is  well accepted  that if more students from backward areas were given opportunities to qualify, there would be more manpower in these areas. Why has  the Government not tried to introduce the JNU parameters of entrance in the Government medical colleges?  I can only assume that the elitist establishment, would not have promoted this concept.I  salute JNU for the opportunities it is offering to young people from less privileged groups.





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