University Teachers Forum Hyderabad Condemns the Raid at Prof Satyanarayana’s House

The following is a statement signed by 143 teachers of Hyderabad, released by the University Teachers’ Forum Hyderabad, condemning the police raid at the residence of Prof K. Satyanarayana recently.

We university teachers of Hyderabad hereby strongly register our protest against the arbitrary, ill-mannered raid on the residence of Dr. K. Satyanarayana, Professor of Cultural Studies and Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the EFL University on 28 August 2018.

Early in the morning of 28 August, a police team from Maharashtra accompanied by some Telangana policemen and women, forced themselves into the apartment residence of Prof. Satyanarayana and his wife Pavana without showing them any authorizing document and proceeded to ransack and vandalise the entire flat for over eight hours.

The document that they eventually produced authorized the search ostensibly to find Mr. Varavara Rao, who had already been house-arrested at his own flat by another team. There was no mention of any charges against Prof. Satyanarayana himself. In violation of all rules and conventions, this document was in Marathi, was never presented at the time of entering the residence, and no explanation was offered as to the purpose of their raid. The team left having turned the entire flat upside down taking with them three laptops, a tablet and hard drive apart from some books and papers. Prof. Satyanarayana’s accumulation of research done over 30 years is now in danger of being completely destroyed.

An internationally renowned scholar of Cultural Studies and a pioneering author and editor in the field of Dalit Studies, Satyanarayana co-edited the two-volume anthology of New Dalit Writings from South India: No Alphabet in Sight (vol 1) and Steel Nibs are Sprouting (vol 2), Exercises of Freedom, as well as the volume of Dalit Studies, the first effort of its kind.

He has been a Dalit scholar and has devoted his entire time as an academic to the pursuit of knowledge and research into issues affecting dalits.

Continue reading “University Teachers Forum Hyderabad Condemns the Raid at Prof Satyanarayana’s House”

Government should not Fail Children to Cover up Education System’s ailure: A Statement

A statement by concerned organizations, teachers’ unions and academics against government proposal to amend RTE Act to scrap no detention policy and to fail children in class V and VIII. The statement was issued in New Delhi on 25 July 2018

The civil society organisations, teacher unions, and academicians working in the education sector across 20 states of India strongly oppose the Lok Sabha’s decision to pass‘ The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017’. This bill paves the way for the scrapping of the provision for ‘No Detention’ by allowing states to detain children in class V and VIII. Over 20,000 Indians had already urged the government to withdraw the bill scrapping the ‘No Detention Policy’.

Continue reading “Government should not Fail Children to Cover up Education System’s ailure: A Statement”

Response to Critics of AAS-in-Asia boycott: Ajantha Subramanian et al

Continuing the debate on the controversial Association of Asian Studies conference recently held in Delhi, to which Pakistani participants were denied visas by the Indian government, following which there was a call to boycott the conference.

Nandini Sundar wrote an article in The Wire which we re-posted on Kafila. This is a response to that article by Ajantha Subramanian, Suvir Kaul, Rupa Viswanath, Rebecca Karl, Ania Loomba and Nate Roberts, also in The Wire.

As signatories to the call for a boycott of the AAS-in-Asia conference in Delhi (July 4-8, 2018), we have been vocal critics of how the Association for Asian Studies – a membership-funded professional organisation based in the US for scholars of Asia around the world – has handled the government of India ban on Pakistani scholars (based on both nationality and descent). We now write because the debate that our call for action provoked raises important questions about location, ethics and nationalism when it comes to the right to protest. These questions are important in our age of escalating international exchange as well as national chauvinism.

Our critique has focused on the AAS, an organisation that was informed of the preemptive ban and which, in conjunction with Ashoka University, their private university partner in New Delhi, concealed it from the general membership – as well as the general public – for months. Although the organisation claims it did its part by putting the letter banning Pakistanis on its conference website, no one would find it unless they were looking for it. Knowledge of the ban only became public when The Wire broke the story on June 7, 2018.

Read the rest of this article here.

 

Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations

Following is a statement of Jadavpur University alumni on the current controversy around the scrapping of the entrance examination by the university authorities. 

There is also a Change.org petition that has been put up for those wanting to sign. Over 5075 people have signed the petition at last count.

Thos who who wish to sign in solidarity with Jadavpur University teachers, students and staff can do so here.

We, the alumni of Jadavpur University, unequivocally condemn the decision of the authorities to not conduct entrance examinations for admission to the university’s Bachelor of Arts programme.

Several departments of the Jadavpur Arts Faculty annually conduct their own entrance examinations. For the last forty years, teachers have carefully prepared question papers and rigorously evaluated the answers in order to admit the candidates that they deem fit. The tradition of the entrance examination, in which thousands of students participate every year, has ensured that the Faculty of Arts continues its legacy of academic excellence. No weightage is given to Board examination marks because the Boards’ prescribed methods of arts education and evaluation simply do not match those of tertiary education in the humanities. The entrance examinations test students for their interest in literature, history, philosophy and arts, their ability to think independently about texts, and their commitment to understanding the world around them using the skills of reasoning and speculation, the theoretical and methodological capital furnished by the humanities.

The entrance examination has enabled these departments to gain talented students year after year. Many of us would have never made it to the top-ranked Arts departments in the country had we been judged solely on the basis of our marks in school-leaving examinations. Admissions based on Board exam scores would have never enabled students from varied cultural, class and economic backgrounds to be trained in the humanities by the best minds in the country. The rich and diverse professional accomplishments of Jadavpur University alumni – in art, academia, film, entrepreneurship, publishing, writing, advertising and many other fields – constitute a further testament to the success of these departments in scouting and honing talent. First-person accounts of how the erstwhile admissions process created equality of opportunity and access for students from across a range of social and educational backgrounds have poured in from Jadavpur alumni since yesterday (3/7/2018). (To read personal testimonials and opinion pieces from faculty, alumni, staff and current students regarding the significance of the admission process, visit https://juforadmissiontest.wordpress.com/)

The admission test is a time-tested process which has ensured academic excellence in the Faculty of Arts and brought glory to the university. To tamper with this process is to threaten the very core of the humanities – to attack free thinking, liberty, and equality of opportunity. It directly undermines the dreams and hopes of the 17,000-odd students who have applied to Jadavpur University this year. Among these 17,000, there must be brilliant young minds that couldn’t obtain 90% or more in the Board examinations. Their merit cannot be reliably boxed into multiple-choice questions. There must be, in those 17,000, young people who do not seek conventional careers, or if they do, wish to combine them with independent thinking, exploring and lifelong learning.

To stop the admission test is to kill the dreams of anyone who does not participate in the mad rat race of public examinations. It is an attack on the community of scholars, researchers, teachers, alumni, students, and staff who have carefully built up the university and its reputation over the years. To stop the admission test is to tear into the very fabric of the university – its tradition and its history. We must recall that Jadavpur University was set up as an alternative to the education imparted by the erstwhile rulers of India, the British. It has always been home to those who dare to defy norms.

The larger implications of this administrative decision concern the scope and function of higher education in this country. Do we, as a nation, wish to create a more homogenised and technocratic culture that rewards learning by rote, or do we wish to invest in greater autonomy for centres of excellence? Difference and dissent are what all democracies should aspire to; they are the touchstones of any free and open society, and any administration that encourages these tendencies signals its confidence in itself and hope for the future. What we are seeing here is, accidentally or not, congruent with a larger attempt to fundamentally redefine the idea of higher education, to increase administrative interference in universities large and small, more and less prominent (similar conflicts are playing out in JNU, to cite just one example) and to condemn generations of young people to the backwaters of real learning, thought and creativity.

As concerned alumni, we strongly condemn the decision of the authorities to take away independent admission tests from the Faculty of Arts. We demand an immediate revocation of this order, which irrationally, pointlessly, and appallingly undertakes to disrupt a fair and successful admission process. This disruption will impact the futures of countless students, and reduce the entry-point of tertiary education in the humanities to a lottery.

We stand in solidarity with the protesting teachers, students and staff of Jadavpur University. Continue reading “Statement of Jadavpur University Alumni Against University Decision to Scrap Entrance Examinations”

Jadavpur University Scraps Admission Tests – Not going down without a fight: Sritama Chatterjee

Guest Post by SRITAMA CHATTERJEE

The Executive Council (EC) of Jadavpur University recently decided to scrap the admission test in the Humanities for the academic year 2018-2019. This is no surprise to many of us who have been closely following the chain of events that have unfolded at the university in the last couple of days. According to published news reports, the education minister of West Bengal, Partha Chatterjee had “advised” the university back in November 2017, to do away with the procedure of conducting admission tests.[i]  This raises a serious question whether the education minister of a state can even advise a university on how to conduct its admission process, especially considering that the university is an autonomous institution.  The motives of the EC about the admission tests were becoming increasingly suspicious when they postponed the dates for the admission test twice, thereby causing inconvenience to many applicants, especially those students who had applied from outside West Bengal and had their itinerary planned according to the declared dates. Not only were the dates postponed but also the method of admitting students were changed from the earlier notification of admitting students solely on the basis of admission tests to 50% weightage on board examination and 50% weightage on admission test to completely scrapping the admission test, altogether. Although I acknowledge that the parameters to rank and evaluate the performance of universities have its own set of problems which is outside the scope of this piece, it cannot be denied that Jadavpur University has done significantly well in the National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF) published recently by the MHRD, in spite of the fact that as a state university, the funding received by JU is scanty in comparison to the central universities. It is noteworthy that one of the parameters on the basis of which the NIRF rankings are based is perception, in which JU has not scored well. I wonder that after facing the harassment that applicants had to go through because of the fickle-minded decisions of the EC, whether the “public perception” about JU would become better. The VC and the EC must answer. Continue reading “Jadavpur University Scraps Admission Tests – Not going down without a fight: Sritama Chatterjee”

Higher Education Commission of India Act – Send your responses NOW!

The Government of India has set up a draft proposal to repeal the UGC Act, scrapping the UGC as a regulatory body and establishing a new regulatory body called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).

Needless to say, such an act has far-reaching repercussions for higher education in India.

The Union HRD Minister, Sri Prakash Javadekar, has urged all members of the concerned public to respond to the proposed draft of the HECI within the 7th of July, 5 pm.

This is a very short time span, but a response has been prepared by college and university teachers laying out the problems of the draft, strongly opposing the same. We believe that by withdrawing financial powers from the regulator and handing them over to the central government, and by giving the HECI unilateral and absolute powers to authorise, monitor, shut down, and recommend disinvestment from Higher Educational Institutions, the Draft Bill will expose higher education in the country to ideological manipulation, loss of much needed diversity as well as academic standards, fee hikes, and profiteering.

You can read the full draft of this response here.

If you would like to respond to Shri Javadekar along these lines, please click here and follow the simple instructions.

नवोदय और भारत की साझी हानि: यश पाल रोहिल्ला व संतोष शर्मा

Guest post by YASH PAL ROHILLA and SANTOSH SHARMA

हाल के वर्षों में हुई दो घटनायें उल्लेख के लायक हैं। पहली एक कॉलेज में पढ़ने वाली छात्रा ने मुखौटा लगाकर भीड़ के सामने अपनी कहानी बयान की, जिसमें उसने बताया कि किस तरह से उसे कॉलेज की पढ़ाई के लिए, लिए गए कर्ज को उतारने में देह फरोख्ती का सहारा लेना पड़ा। दूसरी घटना मे लगभग एक लाख विद्यार्थी सड़कों पर उतर आए क्योंकि उन्हें मंजूर नहीं था कि उनके देश की सरकार परा-स्नातक की पढ़ाई के लिए भी ट्यूशन फीस ले। पहली घटना अमेरिका में हुई और दूसरी जर्मनी में। दोनों घटनाएं विचारधारा सम्मत हैं: पहली पूंजीवाद का फल है और दूसरी लुप्त होते सामाजिक लोकतंत्र की निशानी।

भारत की वर्तमान सरकार ने अमेरिका वाला रास्ता अपना लिया है। इसका एक पुख्ता उदाहरण है जवाहर नवोदय विद्यालय में फीस वृद्धि। जवाहर नवोदय विद्यालय की स्थापना करना एक विशिष्ट व आदर्शोन्मुख कदम था। यह कदम, तब जब राजीव गांधी प्रधान मन्त्री थे और पी.वी नरसिम्हा राव मानव संसाधन विकास मन्त्री, 1986 की राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति के तहत लिया गया। इस नीति के तहत, अन्य कदमों के अतिरिक्त, देश के हर जिले में नवोदय विद्यालय होगा जिसमें छठी कक्षा में 80 सीटों पर दाखिला होगा; दाखिले के लिए पांचवीं स्तर से कठिन व मेधा मापने वाली प्रतियोगी परीक्षा होगी जिसमें कम से कम 75 प्रतिशत सीटें ग्रामीण क्षेत्र के विद्यार्थियों और बाकी शहरी क्षेत्र के विद्यार्थियों के लिए आरक्षित होगीं। एक तिहाई लड़कियों के लिए और अनुसूचित जाति व जनजाति के लिए सरकारी प्रावधान के अनुसार। अन्य पिछड़ा वर्ग का आरक्षण अभी भी लागू नहीं है। हालांकि यह कहना आवश्यक है कि उस वक्त जब नवोदय विद्यालय की शुरूआत हुई थी तब कहीं पर भी यह आरक्षण नहीं था। विद्यालय आवासीय सुविधाएं देगा और सारा खर्च केन्द्र सरकार वहन करेगी।

Continue reading “नवोदय और भारत की साझी हानि: यश पाल रोहिल्ला व संतोष शर्मा”