Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) new course — counter- terrorism — has stirred a controversy with critics questioning not only the outline of the course but also the manner in which the proposal was passed. The course that is being offered to dual-degree engineering students at the university, states that “Jihadi terrorism” is the only form of “fundamentalist-religious terrorism”, and that they have been historically supported by countries with Communist background.
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“Jihad is a global challenge. At a time when Afghanistan has been occupied by the Taliban, nothing could have been a more contemporary topic than this…Those who are arguing about this should also note that cyber and economic terrorism have also been made part of this paper,” said Professor Arvind Kumar, Professor and Chairperson of the School of International Studies, reports Aaj Tak. He has designed the course.
His rebuttal was in obvious response to critics who said that the course focused on only one kind of terrorism.
Kumar, who co-designed the course with assistant professor Anshu Joshi of the same centre, told The Telegraph: “It’s based on India’s perspective… how Islamic terrorism has always been detrimental to India’s national security. Jihadi terrorism is a manifestation of Taliban and various terrorist groups perpetrated by Pakistan.”
This is the second attempt by the university to bring such a course. In 2018, the Delhi Minorities Commission had sent a notice to JNU after “Islamic terrorism” was declared an area of study at the Special Centre for National Security Studies. The university had to drop the proposal.
Another sore point with the critics is the way the proposal was passed by the academic council. A meeting of the university’s Academic Council on August 17 cleared the optional course, titled ‘Counter Terrorism, Asymmetric Conflicts and Strategies for Cooperation among Major Powers’, in a few minutes
When the proposal of this subject was brought before the Academic Council, many members reportedly opposed it. Despite this, the council gave its stamp on the new subject. The JNU Teachers’ Association alleged that the Dean of the School of International Studies had no such knowledge of this new paper and that the Dean of Engineering said that the subject was outside their field of expertise and so he had approved it, reports India Today.
The proposal will need the approval of the Executive Council, which is the highest body of the university concerning management. If the Executive Council approves it, the paper will be offered to the students in the new session starting September 20.