DU VC’s Autocracy Is Not Equal To University’s Autonomy
The Future of 2.7 lakh Undergraduate Aspirants Can No Longer be Left in Uncertainty
DU Visitor, MHRD, UGC Must Act Decisively to Save DU and Start Admission Process immediately Under 3 Year Programme
Since last year, March 2013, the teachers and students of DU had been waging a relentless struggle against the DU VC’s hurried and forced imposition of the ill-thought out and disastrous FYUP. The reasoned arguments of the DUTA , students and noted academics and educationists were trampled upon by the VC using important bodies like the Academic and Executive Councils as mere rubber stamps to push through his dubious agenda with the blessings from the UPA Government.
It is the sustained campaign and agitation by students and teachers that made the FYUP an issue of national debate, forcing the new Government and UGC to finally accept the illegality and undesirability of the FYUP programme. Most importantly, the first batch of students affected by the FYUP had, in a historic referendum in Aug 2013, expressed their rejection of the FYUP and its substandard courses.
Now that the UGC has acted, the VC, in his characteristic autocratic manner, has refused to accept the UGC instructions, and has created a massive crisis whose worst sufferers are the students waiting to take admission this year. If the VC is unwilling to abide by the instructions, he should resign. Instead, after a ‘resignation drama,’ he is sticking to his post, thereby putting the entire admission process – and the future of 2.7 lakh applicants – into utter chaos and jeopardy. Such a situation calls for urgent intervention by the Visitor, MHRD and UGC. These apex bodies must perform their role, and the VC cannot be allowed to impose his autocracy in the name of the University’s autonomy.
Who is Violating University’s Autonomy?
The DU VC has been claiming that the UGC instructions violate the University’s autonomy. This is a specious and self-serving logic. The DU VC has dealt body blows to the University’s autonomy and internal democracy on multiple occasions:
1) To ram down the FYUP, the well-established processes in DU of framing syllabi for new courses and papers – such as departmental councils, and committees of courses – were summarily violated through administrative fiats within a month. Courses were formulated by hand-picked individuals and hastily passed through Academic Councils and ECs called overnight. The result was a bundle of courses of a laughable standard, that would not withstand any serious academic scrutiny.
2) The FYUP, till date, never got the requisite approval from the Visitor or the UGC, yet it was implemented.
3) The VC’s autocracy cannot pass off for University’s ‘autonomy’. The VC had been violating all internal processes and checks and balances, squashing debates and discussions, ramming down decisions in the face of massive opposition from the University’s main stakeholders (its teachers and students). By doing so, it is the DU VC who has made himself autonomous from the rest of the University community.
4) The University must have the fullest autonomy in terms of composition of courses, syllabus etc from outside political influence and so on. But a central University like Delhi cannot have a structure that is at odds with the structure (10+2+3) prevalent in the rest of the country. To bring DU in line with an American course structure, while pitting it against the National Curriculum Framework of 10+2+3 cannot be accepted under any pretext of ‘autonomy’.
5) Yes, autonomy is a cherished principle. But the DU VC refused to defend DU’s autonomy when it really was attacked by saffron goons. At the VC’s personal initiative, DU meekly removed AK Ramanujam’s scholarly essay ‘300 Ramayanas’ from the English syllabus, against the reasoned arguments of concerned departments, following threats from the Hindutva brigade.
In a situation where the DU VC jeopardises the futures of thousands of students for his whim, the Visitor, UGC and MHRD have every duty to act – and they must do so without any further delay.
1) The Monitoring Committee appointed by the UGC must take all necessary steps to ensure that the admission process starts immediately under the 3-year programme, without any further delay.
2) Students already enrolled under the B Tech programme must be safeguarded, as the B Tech programme runs for 4 years all over the country. All that UGC and AICTE must ensure is that the content of DU’s B Tech programme conforms to national standards and equivalence.
3) To ensure that those already enrolled in 2013 under FYUP, are able to complete their Honours Degree within 3 years, the coherent and reasoned formula suggested by students and teachers must be adopted.
Member of the Polit Bureau,