New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University has been named the winner of two of the three Visitor’s Awards President Pranab Mukherjee instituted last year, the laurels coming at a time some have dubbed the varsity a hub of treason.
The university took the prize in the “Innovation” and “Research” categories, while Assam’s Tezpur University was adjudged the “Best University”, according to an announcement by Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday.
While Tezpur University got the award for academic excellence and overall performance in 2015, Rakesh Bhatnagar, a JNU professor, and the Delhi institute’s Molecular Parasitology Group made the cut for innovation and research.
Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said Bhatnagar developed a vaccine and therapeutic antibody against anthrax, and a team of scientists led by Professor Alok Bhattacharya worked on malaria, amoeba and kala-azar parasites. The sources said there were about ten entries in each category and were assessed by a panel of experts.
The recognitions for JNU come at a time the institution is at the centre of a sedition row following a campus event last month on executed Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. A BJP MP, Maheish Girri, even described JNU as a “hub of treason”.
The crackdown that followed led to the arrest of students’ union president Kanhayia Kumar, who got bail last week.
Several ex-servicemen have been critical, too, and even suggested taking a tank inside the campus to create “nationalistic sentiments” among students.
Bhatnagar, who heads a panel that was set up to probe the February 9 campus event, didn’t want to comment about his work. Bhattacharya said several institutions were engaged in research on malaria, kala-azar or amoeba, but JNU was the only place for a comprehensive research on all three.
Tezpur University vice-chancellor Mihir K. Chaudhuri said the university had produced excellent research while catering to the needs of 3,600 students in a place whose location was a disadvantage.
The awards, which Mukherjee – the Visitor for all central universities – had instituted last year, will be given away next Monday.
Last year, Hyderabad University was adjudged the “Best University” for its performance in 2014. A Delhi University professor, Vijaya Chaudhary, and his team got the award for “Innovation”. The Centre of Theoretical Physics, from Jamia Millia Islamia, won the “Research” prize.