Inclusion of 16 Jamia Researchers in Top Scientists List Strikes at Govt's Perception of Varsity

Jamia has, in the past two decades, battled a communal narrative against it that has lent itself to violent action as well.

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New Delhi: Sixteen of Jamia Millia Islamia University’s researchers are in the Stanford University list of top 2% most cited scientists in the world.

In the first list, based on career-long data, eight JMI professors feature. In the second list for the year 2020’s performance, there are 16 scientists from JMI, the institution has claimed in a press release.

Both the lists feature the following researchers: Imran Ali, Atiqur Rehman, Anjan A. Sen, Haseeb Ahsan, Sushant G. Ghosh, S. Ahmad, Tokeer Ahmad and Mohd. Imtaiyaz.

The second list additionally features Abid Haleem, Rafiq Ahmad, Tabrez Alam Khan, Mohd. Javaid, Arshad Noor Siddique, Musheer Ahmad, Faizan Ahmad and Tarikul Islam.

The list has 1,59,683 people and nearly 1,500 Indians in it, Indian Express has reported.

The university also ranked first in the list of central universities released by the Ministry of Education in 2020. Jamia beat JNU and Aligarh Muslim University to top the list of 40 central varsities.

The varsity also improved its position from 19 to 12 in 2020 among Indian institutions in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.

As The Wire has analysed earlier, “Ultimately, a better-ranked university tends to be a better-perceived university, and has the potential to draw foreign students, and also serves as a form of ‘soft diplomacy’ between the origin and destination countries.”

Jamia has, in the past two decades, battled a communal narrative against it that has lent itself to violent action as well.

Also read: At Centenary, Jamia Millia Islamia Stands as a Symbol of Inclusive, Secular Education

The Bharatiya Janata Party government and its supporters have frequently called the university and its students “anti-national.”

Despite having a higher overall ranking amongst universities vis-a-vis parameters like graduate outcomes, teaching, learning and resources, outreach and inclusivity, Jamia has scored lower when it comes to the parameter of “perception” in comparison with Delhi University, Mahtab Alam has noted on The Wire, in a piece that analysis the numbers.

A Scroll.in report from 2015 points to how as chief minister of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had publicly called for the university authorities to “drown” themselves in the aftermath of the Batla house encounter of 2008 and then Vice-Chancellor Mushirul Hassan’s comment that the university would foot the legal bill of the two arrested students.

“There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in the act. Go drown yourself,” Modi had said.

In an analysis for Article 14, Alishan Jafri has noted that sustained attempts were made by the Modi government between 2017 and 2018 to take away Jamia’s minority status. No lawyer represented the university at this time.

The piece also notes that as recently as May 2021, an “anti-terrorism” pledge ceremony organised at the behest of the Union home ministry had rankled students who criticised the government’s supposition that students required such a pledge. Similar pledges were taken in JNU and Delhi University too.

Also read: Police Attacked Students With Intent of Maximum Damage: Fact Finding Report on Jamia

In between Modi’s comment in 2008 and the pledge event, was December 15, 2019. On the day, during what was allegedly a peaceful protest near the university area against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, police officials barged into the university premises causing destruction of university property, firing tear gas shells, injuring university security guards and students, and conducting widespread lathi charge. Police claim this was done while attempting to quell a protest that had become violent.

On January 30, 2020, a minor from Jewar opened fire at students from Jamia who were marching against the CAA. A student was injured. While the minor was arrested, he is now out on bail. Kaushik Raj and Alishan Jafri, in a piece for The Wire, have reported that the shooter’s social media posts contain a host of anti-Muslim hate speeches that he has made at public events.

In its report on police atrocities at Jamia, the National Human Rights Commission largely blamed anti-CAA protesters.

A number of Jamia’s students and alumni are currently lodged in jail after having been accused of instigating violence in north-east Delhi in February 2020 and being a part of a ‘conspiracy‘. This claim by the Delhi Police has been challenged by several quarters.