“Ideal Journalists” and a Woman’s Right to Dignity: Aswathy Senan
Guest post by ASWATHY SENAN
[The astoundingly misogynist representation of Aswathy Senan’s appointment as the Liaison Officer in Calicut University by the Deshabhimani newspaper was discussed earlier on Kafila in a guest post by APARNA ESWARAN]
Just as issues of gender and ethical journalism have been raised with regard to the Deshabhimani report on 30.04.2012 by C. Prajosh Kumar, a legal and ethical concern bothers any interested reader, who is beginning to feel involved. The reporter while correcting himself as a response to my letter stated it thus: “For a post that was advertised on 21-12-11, a bio-data was sent more than a month back, and a recommendation by VC was made on it: it is this irregularity in the procedure that the report tried to bring forth. And thus, the reporter has done the duty of an ideal journalist.”
Though fabrication and innuendos are totally unacceptable in responsible journalism as has been established, this preemptive application seems grave enough. Hence I bother to write this clarification.
The events were as follows:
In the second week of November 2011, I came to know that the VC was looking for a person based in Delhi for co-coordinating things between the university, the UGC and other funding agencies in Delhi. I sent him my resume and, as was mentioned in the note the VC had made, I met him in Delhi. He conducted a face-to-face interview and briefed me on the job profile. He said that he was not sure if it is within his limits to appoint someone on a contract basis for a short duration. He added that he would put it up in the Syndicate and send me the appointment order, if it gets approved, if not, I would be informed of that as well.
A month later, the post had been advertised for in English and Malayalam dailies dated 21-12-11. A walk-in interview was conducted on 28-12-11 and I applied for the same, afresh. I assumed that my first application would get nullified at this point. I attended the interview conducted on 28-12-11 by a three member panel comprising Dr Abdul Salam (the Vice Chancellor), Shri.R.S Panicker (Convenor, Syndicate Standing Committee Member on Finance) and T.V Ibraham (Convenor, Syndicate Standing Committee Member on Staff) which was also attended by 11 other candidates. At the interview I was asked many questions about my knowledge regarding various fellowships for researchers, my proficiency in English, Hindi and Malayalam, my awareness about different offices in Delhi and the like.
I was selected, the appointment letter sent, and based on the contract assumed office on part time basis for 6 months, starting from 10-01-12. In the course of these past few months, I have been sent various projects and fellowships that were not being processed due to lack of proper coordination and would like to state that I have been able to get most of them through. I am not sure if I am allowed to share my work report here, as most of it deals with confidential files but the details can be corroborated with the VC’s office.
[I was later informed by one of the faculty members in the university that there was someone in Delhi under the same profile (1999-2001 during the Chief Ministership of EK Nayanar) when KKN Kurup was the Vice Chancellor and how it had helped in speeding up the process. The details of this can be collected from the Registrar's office. This raises another question as to why this post was not included in the university ordinance.]
This leaves me with a problem: I have been seen as a person who tried to get an assignment which I didn’t deserve. All the members of the Syndicate should be answering this question- The ex-officio members of which include:
(1) The Vice-Chancellor
(2) The Pro-Vice-Chancellor
(3) The Secretary to Government, Higher Education Department, Thiruvananthapuram.
(4) The Director of Public Instructions, Thiruvananthapuram
(5) The Director of Collegiate Education, Thiruvananthapuram
(6) The Secretary to Government, Information Technology Department, Thiruvananthapuram
(7) The thirteen other sitting members.
It was this body that entrusted a panel consisting of Dr. Abdu Salam, R.S. Panikkar and Mr. T.V. Ibrahim to conduct the interview. Now, I can’t comment on how they created this post or on the impartiality of the interview. But had I been one among the other candidates, and I was convinced that the interview was fixed, I would hold the interview panel, and not just the VC responsible for that. And if on inquiry it was found so, I would have demanded that the appointment be annulled and a fresh interview held.
All of them ARE EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL THEIR SIGNATURES APPROVING both the post and the candidate. They are answerable to the public.
Upon my right to dignity, I demand that both the Syndicate and the interview panel speak up on this matter and place the matters for a public scrutiny. Or else they will be nullifying their responsibility to the public and to the university, and allowing a candidate they collectively chose to languish under public doubt, for no fault of hers.