Dr. N. Sukumar
"A University stands for humanism, for tolerance, for reason, for the adventure of ideas and for the search of truth. It stands for the onward march of the human race towards ever higher objectives. If the Universities discharge their duties adequately, then it is well with the Nation and the People."
~ Jawaharlal Nehru
"The most important and urgent reform needed in education is to transform it, to endeavor to relate it to the life, needs and aspirations of the people and thereby make it the powerful instrument of social, economic and cultural transformation necessary for the realization of the national goals. For this purpose, education should be developed so as to increase productivity, achieve social and national integration, accelerate the process of modernization and cultivate social, moral and spiritual values."
~ Radhakrishnan Commission on University Education, 1948-49
The University of Delhi, the largest public funded educational organization in the country, is rushing at break neck speed towards a four year undergraduate program. On the face of it, the course appears very innovative. However, a deeper analysis reveals a certain structural problem with the entire process of cultivating opinion, regarding the pedagogy among the academic community and the larger public, concerning the value of the FYUP. In the entire discourse, the VC is acting like a feudal paterfamilias who cannot brook any dissent.
A Dubious Alliance
In a poverty ridden country, only public institutions cater to the requirements of the downtrodden and the marginalized groups. Once the doors were opened to the neo-liberal market forces, the elites could access the resources across the globe leaving the crumbs for their unfortunate brethren. The debate on the FYUP has been hijacked by the Stephanians, an old boys' network, a caste club which seeks to set an agenda for the leftover Indian academia. One wonders, how many students in India have access to higher education and how many possess the wherewithal to fly to America. The FYUP is aimed at the American audience whereas 70 percent of DU's students comprise of the SC/ST/OBC, Hindi medium students. A hurriedly set together task force, in the form of caste and ideological army is stifling all dissent against the FYUP. The beleaguered DU administration has resorted to surveillance of all forms of media. Many of the Deans and Heads of Departments have signed in favour of the new program, whereas their colleagues have argued about the undemocratic and autocratic means resorted to justify the program. In response to write-ups appearing in the social and print media regarding the dubious claims made by the University authorities, the Registrar hastily cobbled together a Press Release on 3rd May 2013 signed by a few self-proclaimed 'Harijan' teachers. A closer investigation reveals that majority of the SC/ST teachers, who are the signatories of the above mentioned press release, belong to a particular college and a large number constitute ad hoc teachers. The hierarchical power relations are evident in the entire exercise.