A university stands for transformation. JNU exemplifies the positive aspects of human habitation and intervention. Built on the rugged barren terrain of the Aravali hill range, where the 1000 acre campus is housed, the university has turned into a lush green estate of envy, a landscape bursting into the colours of bougainvilleas and amaltas, mangoes and jamun (Indian blackberry), and is the home of peacocks and nilgais. JNU is a birdwatcher’s paradise, parts of it now hosting almost dense forests.
JNU campus is a microcosm of the Indian nation, drawing students from every nook and corner of the country and from every group and stratum of society. To make sure that this is so, annual admission tests are simultaneously held at centres in various parts of the country (and at one centre abroad in Kathmandu, Nepal) and special care is taken to draw students from the underprivileged castes and ethnic groups. International students form nearly 15% per cent of the annual intake and as of now come from approx. 30 - 35 countries across the continents.
Most of the faculty, staff, and students of the university reside on campus. Hostels for students are built close to faculty residences in order to facilitate close interaction and to encourage the feeling of belonging to a large academic family. The hostels and faculty houses are organized in four clusters, named after the four directions. Each of the hostels is named after a river belonging to the region.
Towering over all other buildings in the Academic Complex is the nine- storey University Library, the hub of student life on campus. The JNU Library is among the first batch of universities to be chosen as a beneficiary of the UGC- INFONET- INFLIBNET consortium of Electronic journals because of the excellent infrastructure facilities in place at JNU. The Archives on Contemporary History, located in the Library has in its holdings a very large collection of source material on the Left Movement in India.
The Human Resources Development Centre (formerly Academic Staff College), funded by the UGC and located in JNU, serves other universities in the country by organizing in-service refresher training for college teachers from different parts of India. Among the other facilities available in JNU are two sophisticated instrumentation centres – The Advanced Instrumentation Research Facility (AIRF) and the University Science Instrumentation Centre (USIC) – which are engaged in various in-house R & D activities. The Language Lab Complex, one of the best of its kind in Asia is equipped with video and audio facilities including a studio, and is justly proud of its rich software library.
Student life on JNU Campus has its own colours and contours of uniqueness. The university is perceived as a training ground for intellectual politicians, and for a meaningful life in the Indian bureaucracy, as much as the beginning of a life in research and academics. Serious and sometimes high decibel disputes about the validity of paradigmatic premises or cultural subtexts of a particular scientific or economic thesis often spill over from the class and hostel rooms onto the middle of the campus roads, at times causing traffic bottlenecks. Happily, these have never caused a road accident. JNU is the only university in India where the annual Students Union elections are conducted entirely by students, Fierce poster and cartoon wars, verbal duels and competitive yet peaceful group meetings are a viewers’ delight during the elections, In fact student life is peppered by after dinner speeches and discussions on every pressing contemporary issue. JNU is also a place for late night snacks and an active cultural life, with clubs that encourage a wide range of activities from dramatics to mountaineering.
We can say proudly that Jawaharlal Nehru University is a unique university not just in India but the world with its diversity, its commitment to social justice and intellectual attainment.