New Delhi: Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday that Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) got the best university award for its good work and not for the controversy last year during which the Vice Chancellor was taken "hostage".
"Recently JNU was given best university award. This was not given for making the Vice Chancellor hostage but for the good works done by the university. These good works don't come into the limelight," Javadekar said in the Lok Sabha while concluding the debate on the National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The Bill, which seeks to declare certain institutions of technology, science education and research as Institutes of National Importance, was passed by the lower house after an hour-long debate. It also adds two more institutes under National Institutes of Technology, Education and Research Act.
They are Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Tirupati, and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Berhampur (Odisha).
Javadekar's remarks came after Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge objected to the Minister's reference of vacancies in JNU.
Citing the vacancies of professors in JNU, Javadekar said: "There are over 100 vacancies for SCs/STs in JNU while around 25 posts of disabled professors are vacant since long ago."
Kharge objected to it saying, not only in JNU but several posts are lying vacant in Central Universities, and the minister should respond to such vacancies.
"I know why you are raking up JNU only," Kharge said.
JNU, which has been at the centre of controversies for over a year, has bagged the annual 'Visitor's Award' for the best varsity in the country.
Students of JNU had in October last year staged protests outside the administrative Block over the disappearance of student Najeeb Ahmed, forcibly confining Vice Chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar and Rectors to remain inside.
Earlier, three of its students were arrested on sedition charges in connection with an event on the campus during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.
Responding to members' queries, Javadekar said that vacancies in universities are a serious issue and there are many reasons for it.
He said that for filling up the vacancies the government needs to create an atmosphere where students prefer to be teachers and professors.
"We need to create interest among students so they could prefer this profession," he said.
Javadekar said that whenever he visited any university, he always asked students: "Who wants to be a teacher? Who wants to be a professor?"
"Recently I visited an IIT where I asked the same question to students. I was very happy when majority of students said they want to join the teaching line," he said.
Javadekar said that to create research facilities, the government has set up Higher Education Financing Agency with a support of Rs 2,000 crore and later the agency would leverage Rs 20,000 crore for funding projects for higher education in three years.
Expressing concern over brain-drain, he said that to retain talent within the country, 500 best research scholars will be given scholarship of Rs 75,000 per month with better research environment.
He also expressed concern over the cases of suicides on campuses.
"Even a single case of suicide in campuses is unfortunate," the Minister said added that there is a need to introduce induction courses in Universities for students to make them familiar with each other.
Participating in the discussion, members from different parties raised concerns over issues like shortage of quality technical institutes, brain drain, suicide on campuses and lack of quality teachers.
Congress member Sushmita Dev said that the number of unemployed engineering graduates are increasing, which is a matter of concern.
"Every year around 8 lakh engineering graduate passed out but five lakh graduates remained unemployed and the government should also look into the concern of unemploybility,a she said.