Needless controversy over new counter-terrorism course, syllabus holistic: JNU Vice-Chancellor

JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar said the course was “holistic” and would give students “broad-based knowledge” of the subject.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar Wednesday said there was a “needless controversy” over the new counter-terrorism course to be taught to engineering students “without going into the academic merit”. He said the course was “holistic” and would give students “broad-based knowledge” of the subject.

The Indian Express had reported Monday that the course titled ‘Counter Terrorism, Asymmetric Conflicts and Strategies for Cooperation among Major Powers’ was passed in the Academic Council, allegedly without discussion, on August 17. The course asserts that “Jihadi terrorism” is the only form of “fundamentalist-religious terrorism”, and that the erstwhile Soviet Union and China were the “predominant state-sponsors of terrorism” that influenced “radical Islamic states”.

“During the past few days, there was a needless controversy… without going into the academic merits of the course. The objective of the course, ‘Counter Terrorism, Asymmetric Conflicts and Strategies for Cooperation among Major Powers’, is mainly to have an in-depth understanding on the challenges emanating from terrorism to India’s national security and how India can get equipped with adequate responses in case of any eventuality,” he said.

“The way things have unfolded in India’s neighbourhood are proving highly detrimental to India’s national security. It is imperative that an academic institution like JNU takes the lead and builds a good set of counter-terrorism specialists. India urgently needs a critical mass of such specialists in this field,” he said.

Kumar said the curriculum has been designed “keeping in mind terrorist activities at the global level and India’s experiences in handling them”.

“There is a need to further evolve India’s perspective in a balanced and objective manner. This course has the potential to build a strong narrative for India. An in-depth understanding of various global and regional terrorist networks is a part of the curriculum of this course. How India has witnessed the rise of religious fundamentalism and radicalisation through perverse ideologies in its neighbourhood is an area where lot of knowledge is needed to deal with emerging situations,” he said.

Kumar said students in Indian educational institutes “need to be made aware about these complexities and encouraged to develop effective strategies”.

“The curriculum is holistic and also contains sections on the role of intelligence information and counter-terrorism cooperation among major powers. There is a section on best practices of counter-terrorism and the major global and regional efforts in counter-terrorism. Science and Technology to counter terrorism will also be taught to students. This course will give a broad-based knowledge to engineering students,” he said.

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