Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit is an Indian professor who became the first woman Vice-Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, on 7 February 2022.
Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit was born on Sunday, 15 July 1962 (age 59 years; as of 2021) in Saint Petersburg, Russia (formerly Leningrad, USSR). After her matriculation in 1978, she received her higher secondary education at PN Dhawan Adarsh Vidyalaya Matric Higher Secondary School, Madras (now Chennai), Tamil Nadu. She earned the title of Best All-round Student (1978-1980). After passing Std XII with a distinction in 1980, she pursued a Diploma in Social work in a summer school at California State University, Longbeach, USA. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Psychology in 1983 at Presidency College, Madras; she was awarded three gold medals and two prizes for securing the first rank in B. A. She won several prizes in debates, quizzes, and oratorical contests at the regional, national, and international levels during her school and college days. In 1985, she earned a Master of Arts in Political Science from Presidency College; she secured the second rank in the university. She received a fellowship from the University Grants Commission to do research from 1985 to 1988. In 1986, she passed UGC-NET/ JRF/SRF. Thereafter, she secured her Pre Doctoral Degree, M.Phil in International Relations, in 1986 at JNU’s Indian School of International Studies (now School of International Studies) in New Delhi. A topper with an A grade, she acquired the first rank with 83.4% in her Pre Doctoral Degree. For her doctorate degree, PhD in International Relations, at JNU’s Indian School of International Studies, she wrote the thesis “Parliament and Foreign Policy in India – The Nehru Years.” In 1996, she gained her Postdoctoral Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies from Uppsala University, Sweden.
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Dr. Dhulipudi Anjaneyulu, was a retired civil servant, author, and journalist. Her mother, Mulamoodi Adilakshmi, worked as a professor of Tamil and Telugu at the Leningrad Oriental Faculty Department (USSR).
Husband & Children
Her husband, Niranjan B. Pandit, is a senior SAP consultant. Together, they have a daughter.
Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit began her teaching career in 1988 when she started working as a Lecturer at Goa University in the Political Science department. In 1992, she became a Senior Lecturer at the University of Pune in Politics and Public Administration. On 7 February 2022, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit was appointed as the thirteenth Vice-Chancellor of JNU, succeeding M Jagadesh Kumar, for a period of five years, after President Ram Nath Kovind approved her appointment. After M Jagadesh Kumar’s term for five years as VC in JNU ended in the year 2021, he became the chairperson of the higher education regulatory UGC (University Grants Commission). The prominence behind Santishree’s appointment as the VC is that she became the first woman to be appointed as the vice-chancellor of the prestigious university. Before becoming the VC of JNU, Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit was serving as a professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University in the department of politics and public administration. She has been an External Examiner for M.Phil dissertations and PhD theses at various reputed Indian colleges and universities. As of 2021, twenty-three students have submitted their PhD theses under her supervision in addition to eight M.Phil dissertations. Apart from authoring books, Pandit has also published more than 170 research papers and articles in numerous reputed journals on political science and foreign policy.
Teaching and Research Experiences
- Served as a member of the Advisory Committee at the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (1985-1990)
- Member of Board of Studies, Political Science, Goa University (2006-2009)
- Member of Global India Foundation (2005-2011)
- Member of Governing Council, Center for Inquiry, Hyderabad (2006)
- Member of UGC Committee on Higher Education and Indicators-XI Plan (2006-2008)
- Member of National Social Science Forum (2008-2010)
- Executive Committee member of Radical Humanist Association (2009-2012)
- Executive Committee member of Indian Association for American Studies (IAAS) (2010-2013)
- Member of Board of Studies, Political Science-UG and PG at Osmania University (2011-2014)
- Member of Academic Council, Rakshashakti University, Gujarat, (2014)
- Member of Board of Studies and Research, University of Madras (2014-2017)
- Member of Board of Studies, Political Science, Goa University (2015-2017)
- Parliament and Foreign Policy in India (1990)
- Ethnicity and Nationalism in search of Nation-building, Yeravan: Armenia University Press (1996)
- Globalization, Security Technology and Conflicts in South Asia, Colombo, RCSS (2000)
- Environmental governance in Asia-Ethics and Policy (2003)
- Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, who is known for her proximity with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stirred controversy on 29 January 2020 by tweeting against the Muslim students in JNU. In the tweet, while remembering her days as a student at the university, she targeted the bearded males and hijabs-wearing girls, by calling them Jihadists, i.e., Islamic militants.
- In March 2020, she expressed her hatred for Muslims via a tweet in which she referred to a study that indicated a link between Covid-19 infection and testicular damage and infertility in men.
- In December 2020, when the Sikh community stood in solidarity with the Muslims while they offered Namaz during the 2020–2021 Indian farmers’ protest, Pandit expressed her Hindutva right-wing political views on her Twitter handle by labelling the event as ‘Jihadi Khalistani Alliance.’
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Cardosa Prize (1980-81) at Presidency College, Madras
- Elphinstone Prize, 1980-81; 1981-82; 1982-83; 1983-84; 1984-85, Presidency College, Madras
- Scott Elocution Prize, 1980-81; 1981-82; 1982-83; 1983-84; 1984-85, Presidency College, Madras
- National Hindi Scholarship (1980-1983)
- National Merit Scholarship (1983-1985)
- Tamilnadu State Government Scholarship (1985-1986)
- Fellowship, Uppsala University, Sweden (1996)
- Fellowship, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison
- Fellowship, Salzburg Seminar, Austria (1998)
- Woman Educator Award 2003 at Youth Forum For Gandhian Studies, Chennai
- Wisetex award for Women leaders in the next decade (2004) under the category of Education
- Veer Savarkar Award, Pune (2010)
- She is well versed in six languages, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, and English. She can also understand Kananda, Malayalam and Konkani.
- She made a record for winning the highest number of Elphinstone Prizes during her college days; she won the prize consecutively for five years.