Tag Archives: Delhi University

Promises and Perils of FYUP: An Appeal to Students and Citizens: Sunny Kumar

This is a guest post by SUNNY KUMAR At the current moment, Delhi University is caught in a tremendous crisis. On the one hand, the DU administration is hurriedly forcing through the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). On the other hand, students, teachers, intellectuals and all those concerned with education are opposing it. The DU administration has declared that all students taking admission in DU will enter a four year honours degree. Within this FYUP scheme, if students wish they can leave at the end of two years with a Diploma or at the end of three with a Bachelor degree (without honours). It is only at the end of four years that they can leave with a Bachelor (Hons) degree. Teachers and academics have raised many valid objections about the way in which this tectonic shift is being imposed on DU. Here, we will not belabour many of the arguments that have been made effectively elsewhere. Instead, we will mainly address the Vice Chancellor’s two central claims – of greater employability and flexibility – being made in defence of the FYUP.

To understand the new scheme better, let us look at what will be taught under FYUP.

Will the FYUP, with the above course content and its multiple exit options truly make students more employable? Will it help them get better jobs or give them extra advantage in choosing future academic options? Let us look at some of the facts: Continue reading Promises and Perils of FYUP: An Appeal to Students and Citizens: Sunny Kumar

Of Gandhi and a Godfatherly Copyright Offer- Part 2: Shamnad Basheer and Lawrence Liang

This is the second part of an earlier post in which we refuted the claims made by the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisation about the ongoing copyright case filed against Delhi University and Rameshwari Photocopy Services. A group of students (ASEAK) and academics (SPEAK) have separately impleded themselves in the suit.

Gandhi, Karan Johar and Cafes?

The FRRO recycles the insidious idea that the cost to students of paying the license fee for course packs would be the equivalent of an ‘evening in a student café’. This naïve assumption could be the result of watching too many Karan Johar films in which all Indian campuses look like Riverdale and all students wear Gucci and Nike. Click here for a contrary perspective

For sure, there are a number of rich Indian students who probably spend way more on cafes than they do on books (forgive them father for they know not what they do). But when we think of articulating copyright norms, what kind of student should serve up as our policy addressee? The urban upper middle class creamy layer student who constitutes but a miniscule proportion of the totality or ones from lower economic strata that constitute the vast majority?

Continue reading Of Gandhi and a Godfatherly Copyright Offer- Part 2: Shamnad Basheer and Lawrence Liang

Citizen-Students and the University: Sanjay Kumar


The proposed 4-year undergraduate degree programme of the Delhi University is being pushed through in undue haste without adequate debate and public discussion. The special emphasis on Foundation and Integrating Mind, Body and Heart courses, controversial components of the 4-year scheme, is indicative of an extra-academic zeal. The pedagogical thinking behind these courses is authoritarian and against the spirit of liberal citizenship.

Typically students under the 10+2+3 system of education in the country enter the university at the age of seventeen or eighteen. Time spent in the university helps students transition to adulthood. While there, they attain the legal age that confers citizenship rights and duties on them. The way they are treated in classes and in college and university offices; the rules of conduct they are expected to follow; and the extent and form of recognition they receive as adult citizens from the university– all have a lasting influence on how they imagine their citizenship. University life also involves informal and formal associations with other students and with teachers and staff. The form, purpose and operative principles of these associations shape the affective and cognitive behaviour of students, which partially determine the kind of public sphere they build later in life. This note discusses the recent developments in Delhi University and their implications for students from the perspective of citizenship. Continue reading Citizen-Students and the University: Sanjay Kumar

Of Education and Democracy in India: Preeti Chauhan

This is a guest post by Preeti Chauhan Now that the cat is out of the bag and the four year undergraduate programme(FYUP) is being criticized and thereby being discussed threadbare by some of the leading scholars of the country, one needs to also think of its relationship with the current state of democracy in India. The manner in which FYUP is being pushed through crushes the very idea of a university and with it the ideals and ideas of democracy.

Even if one assumes and believes that the “Academic Congress” held last year in the University gave a go ahead to change the existing three year undergraduate programme to FYUP and frame courses accordingly, then also the way the University administration has functioned goes against the very values that the University of Delhi or for that matter any university is supposed to promote. Continue reading Of Education and Democracy in India: Preeti Chauhan

On higher education in India: Saattvic responds to Thane Richard

This is a guest post by SAATTVIC

Hi Thane,

I recently read your piece for Kafila, which was subsequently reproduced in part in the Hindu. I studied economics there as well, batch of 2006. I subsequently went on to read for an MPhil in Economics at Oxford.

Good on you for writing that piece. It raised lots of questions about our education system, and I agree with a lot of what you wrote (and share the same dismay at the dictation sessions from one particular professor you referred to).

There’s just a few things that I’d like to say, but before I say them let me say that none of this comes from being ‘nationalist’ or ‘patriotic’ in the slightest – just as you spent three years studying, working and paying taxes in India, I spent five studying, working and paying taxes in the UK, and I would like to believe that doing so has given me a bit of a world view of these things. Moreover, my area of interest is education economics, which is what my research focused on. Continue reading On higher education in India: Saattvic responds to Thane Richard

Of Angry Young Students and Education in India – A Response to Thane Richard: Aritra Chatterjee

This is a guest post by ARITRA CHATTERJEE: In his response to the article by some students of St. Stephen’s College, Thane Richard has raised a set of questions about the college, about the students participating in the present movement, about education in India and students’ voice in shaping education. He is critical about what he calls the lack of quality education, of a system where education is primarily about rote learning and conformity to structures of authority; in such a situation the promise of a good liberal arts education remains a mere promise and students migrate to the West in search of it. He also rues the lack of students’ voice in the education system, rhetorically asking, “Do students have any right?” He welcomes the students’ fight against the oppressive regime at St. Stephen’s College but views it as a movement that is too little too late and even that in “the wrong direction”. I shall respond to his views at two levels – at the level of education in the country as a whole, and that of the present movement at St. Stephen’s College. Continue reading Of Angry Young Students and Education in India – A Response to Thane Richard: Aritra Chatterjee

Is there anything like ‘copying’ fairly?: Rajshree Chandra


Guest post by RAJSHREE CHANDRA: In the backdrop of the on going battle in the Delhi High Court, between publishers (OUP, CUP and Taylor and Francis) and Rameshwari photocopiers-Delhi University (next hearing 8th May, 2013), there are two perspectives to which attention needs to be drawn. The first, of course, is a legal one which allows for course pack to be compiled for dissemination of course and research material, provided they adhere to stipulated norms. What are these stipulated norms? Have DU, and its network of photocopying, infringed these legal guidelines or even transgressed internationally evolved, legally acceptable norms of “fair use”. Continue reading Is there anything like ‘copying’ fairly?: Rajshree Chandra

Academic Excellence and St. Stephen’s College: A response by Thane Richard

This is a guest post by THANE RICHARD

I recently read an article in Kafila – more like an angry, reflective rant – written by some students from St. Stephen’s College in Delhi.  To quickly summarize, the piece criticized the draconian views of the Principal of St. Stephen’s College regarding curfews on women’s dormitories and his stymying of his students’ democratic ideals of discussion, protest, and open criticism.  More broadly, though, the article’s writers seemed to be speaking about the larger stagnant institution of Indian higher education, overseen by a class of rigid administrators represented by this sexist and bigoted Principal, as described by the students.  The students’ frustration was palpable in the text and their story felt to me like a perfect example of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.  Except Indian students are not an unstoppable force.  Not even close. Continue reading Academic Excellence and St. Stephen’s College: A response by Thane Richard

Of campus democracy and academic excellence: Students of St. Stephen’s College

This is a guest post by some STUDENTS OF ST. STEPHEN’S COLLEGE, Delhi

Over the past one year Delhi University has been subjected to significant changes in the name of academic excellence, and many more changes are in the offing, like an un-thought-out introduction of the four-year undergraduate course. Teachers and students who have voiced concerns (and protested) have been harassed and not paid any heed to. One can witness a general shrinking of democratic space, and the space for dissent within the university. It is almost as if democratic decision making is an enemy of academic excellence, and thus needs to be curbed! A sharp contradiction between campus democracy and a vaguely defined academic excellence has come up recently in some issues pertaining to St. Stephen’s College. In this article, we – some students of the college would like to draw attention to the injuries inflicted on campus democracy, and the questions thrown up about the very meaning of academic excellence in the process.    Continue reading Of campus democracy and academic excellence: Students of St. Stephen’s College

Why Delhi University’s Four Year Undergraduate Programme Should Not be Implemented with Irresponsible Haste

A Note Prepared at the Request of the Department of Higher Education, MHRD, Govt of India


Universities are meant to educate, that is, to teach students how to identify, understand and evaluate multiple points of view. Therefore, dissent, debate and argument are the core concerns of a University – they cannot be regarded as irrelevant irritations or acts of sedition. Debate cannot continue indefinitely, and must be responsible. But what constitutes responsible and well-considered criticism is inevitably a matter of judgement – it cannot be decided through assertion and counter-assertion. It is also inevitable that motives will be called into question. This is once again a matter of judgement, based on available evidence on who is speaking (what is their wider credibility beyond the immediate dispute?) and why (what do they stand to gain or lose by what they are saying?), and an overall sense of what is at stake in the issue. We invite such judgements.

Facts which are NOT disputed:

1. The proposed FYUP is the biggest, most far reaching change of curriculum in the recent (i.e., last 30-40 years) history of DU – it will replace every existing undergraduate course of study in every college and every discipline (professional courses & some other low-enrolment courses may be exceptions).

2. The first time that the FYUP was placed before any statutory body of the University was at the Academic Council meeting of Monday, 24 December, 2012. This meeting – to discuss the biggest curricular reform in several decades – was an Extraordinary meeting, called at 3 days’ notice, which was issued on Friday, 21 December, 2012 and delivered over the weekend, giving Departments no time to consider the proposal and formulate an informed response.

3. The structure of the FYUP presented to the Academic Council on 24 December had not been sent to the Committees of Courses at the Faculties or Departments, or to the Staff Councils of Colleges.

4. The Academic Council meeting of 24 December approved the FYUP with 6 dissents, including a written submission by the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, specifically requesting that the University take more time to think through this major change, and that a detailed White Paper on the FYUP be prepared and made public to enable the University community to respond to it.

5. The Executive Council meeting at which the AC approval of the FYUP was presented was held on Wednesday, 26 December, 2012, i.e. the next working day after the AC meeting of 24 December.

Continue reading Why Delhi University’s Four Year Undergraduate Programme Should Not be Implemented with Irresponsible Haste

DU’S 4-year degree course: Reforms at reckless speed

(This piece has been  published by the Times of India in its Delhi City section on 14 April, 2013. We are reproducing it here, given the importance of the issue involved. It is  somewhat disappointing that it is being treated as a local , internal issue by the media. What we read there are uninformed reports and stories which do not give us the real picture of the academic scene of  DU. 

Please read and react. We are looking for solidarities of all kinds, Apoorvanand)

The unnecessary and yet frantic haste with which Delhi University is introducing a new Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) brings to mind the advice that autorickshaws often offer on their bumpers: Jaldi mat kar, der ho jayegi (Don’t hurry, or you will be late!). Given the longstanding need for reforms in Indian higher education, the FYUP could be worth examining as a possible option. It could also pilot test the XIIth Five Year Plan strategy for “re-crafting undergraduate education” through FYUPs. But the reckless speed of implementation at DU threatens to wreck all positive potential and derail the national reforms process. At stake here is the future of every college-aspiring Indian, not just the quarter million who will apply to DU this June. Continue reading DU’S 4-year degree course: Reforms at reckless speed

The Silence of the Protector: Anonymous

This is a guest post by Anonymous

It is over two months since policemen and others allegedly molested women students of Delhi University as they protested against Narendra Modi’s presence at a college event within the University Campus. Not a word of support or concern has emerged from the Vice Chancellor. Instead, cases have been filed by the police against students and teachers who participated in the protest. The Vice Chancellor’s silence is probably among the less hypocritical responses that he could have had. At least students don’t have to hear assurances about their safety once more, and that lie has been laid to rest.

Sometime last year I happened to be present at an interaction between the local Delhi police and women hostel residents of Delhi University. The police had informed three hostels of a ‘meet the public’ programme at which we were required to be present and urge students to attend as well.  The students, who were preparing for exams at the time, attended the event somewhat reluctantly, but in the course of the evening, provided the feedback that was asked for with unexpected vigour. A woman DCP and other police representatives who had been called to address us, chose to assure us that the city was in fact safe despite a lot of media noise to the contrary, and that the reliability of the police could be counted on in all instants. This did not go down well. Various students asked what they should do when the police leered at them, exposed themselves to the women, urinated deliberately in front of them, lolled in their chairs chatting with security guards while cars slowed down threateningly in front of the hostel gates. The DCP, flummoxed by this flood of complaints, finally said that the police were after all a part of society and would reproduce its problems. This rare if honest admission should be taken seriously as a sign of how women should regard the question of their own safety.

Continue reading The Silence of the Protector: Anonymous

Bhag Modi Bhag: Three eyewitness accounts from a protest in Delhi University


Photo credit: Chandan Gomes

No Space for Dissent


On 6th January, 2013 the usually quaint Delhi University transformed into a battle ground of ideologies. The road leading to Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) where Narendra Modi was invited to speak at the Sri Ram Memorial Oration stands witness to all that went wrong day before yesterday. Continue reading Bhag Modi Bhag: Three eyewitness accounts from a protest in Delhi University

Delhi University Restrained for Alleged Admission of Infringement: True Lies? Amlan Mohanty

Cross posting an intervention  by Amlan Mohanty from SpicyIP since it provides us with a very insightful analysis of the recent injunction obtained in the DU photocopy case. It also refers to  an anonymous link to communication which indicates what the real intent behind the case is.

Delhi University Restrained for Alleged Admission of Infringement: True Lies?

This afternoon, in response to my post announcing a petition relating to the OUP-Delhi University copyright dispute, we received a comment informing us that an order had already been passed against Delhi University a few days ago.
There was also a link to an e-mail allegedly sent to various publishers informing them of this order. The e-mail appears to have been sent from the lawyers representing the publishers. Unfortunately, this was posted anonymously in our comments section so we are unable to verify its authenticity. However, if it is in fact genuine, it raises an entire gamut of interesting questions that the future of this case will hinge upon.

Authors and academics for equitable access to learning material

Three large academic publishers – Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and Taylor & Francis – have filed a petition in the Delhi High Court claiming copyright infringement with regard to the course packs used by students of Delhi University in a number of disciplines.  It is clear from DU’s stance in court that they are  distancing themselves from the  photocopier, thus clearing the way for the Court to pass an injunction staying the sale of course packs. It is absolutely critical now  for academics and authors to step up our campaign in support of our students’ access to learning materials:

Please sign the on-line petition at the link below:

“…As authors and educators, we would like to place on record our distress at this act of the publishers, as we recognize the fact that in a country like India marked by sharp economic inequalities, it is often not possible for every student to obtain a personal copy of a book. In that situation the next best thing would have been for multiple copies of the book to be available in the library so that students are able to access these books without any difficulty. But given the constraints that libraries in India work with, they may only have a single copy of a book and in many instances, none at all. The reason we make course packs is to ensure that students have access to the most relevant portions of the book without which we would be seriously compromising their education….”

Academic Publishers – An Insider’s perspective: Anonymous Contributor

I am posting an email I received this morning by someone who works at a leading multinational academic publishing house and hence wants to remain anonymous which raises very important points relevant to the ongoing debate about copyright, photocopying and the practices within academic publishing. (Thanks to anonymous contributor for this)

Also for more detailed discussions please see the following posts at spicyip by Amlan Mohanty (1, 2,) Shamnad Basheer (1, 2) and Prashant Reddy 1

Hello Lawrence,

In his Op-Ed in today’s Hindu, Sudhanva Deshpande referred to your work, and soon, I stumbled upon your articles at Kafila and the general discussion on the blogosphere. As someone who worked for a few years in a leading multinational academic publishing company, I thought I might — if this doesn’t sound too pretentious — offer some more ammunition to you. What I have to say may not be immediately relevant to the DU case, but I hope you’ll have the time to read. Continue reading Academic Publishers – An Insider’s perspective: Anonymous Contributor

Copyrights versus The Right to Copy – A Normative Perspective: Rajshree Chandra


For those not familiar with the recent spate of events at Delhi University; and for those who may have missed Lawrence Liang’s post, here’s a bird’s eye view: Impatient with an old gargantuan University’s obsolete ways, the authorities have attempted a make-over. As in all make overs, the old structure is retained but glossed over with cosmetic changes so as to appear ‘new’. So we have new hip courses, new syllabi content for old courses, new reading lists, new reading packages, new exam system, semesters and so on. Making all transitions possible of course, is a team of make-over artists. At one end of the set up are photocopiers like Rameshwari Photocopy Service located within the renowned Delhi School of Economics and Sociology; and at the other end, we the teachers. Reading material – by way of recommended articles, papers, chapters – was provided to the photocopiers by University faculty, who then made copies of them, segregated them year wise and instruction wise. The first page specified the semester for which the reading material was relevant, the ‘max marks’, the course objective and the syllabus all clearly outlined. Only after they were thus meticulously detailed were they spiral bound with the customary blue plastic cover and voila! Teachers and students alike had accessible reading and teaching material for all the new jazzed-up-courses. Emails circulated by departments instructed the college departments to use and recommend these dossiers; phone numbers of relevant photocopiers were given; and before long an entire chain of dissemination of this ‘new knowledge’ was established. It was all ‘official’. But more importantly, it was affordable, effective and terribly efficient. There was just one problem – it was in violation of the copyright law! The Rameshwari photocopiers were the new pirates!

Continue reading Copyrights versus The Right to Copy – A Normative Perspective: Rajshree Chandra

Fair Use and Course Packs: A Comparative Perspective : Danish Sheikh

Guest post by Danish Sheikh

The first day of law school, we were handed 5 sets of non-aesthetically pleasing  spiral bound sheets of paper.  They contained a jumble of articles from eclectic sources; varied in size from a 150 pages to this-is-going-to-sprain-my-arm; and when relied on by the instructor, were absolutely indispensable.  The course packs were provided by the university at a reasonable fee, and soon became an integral part of our legal education.  True, there were occasional classes where a textbook was imposed on you by the professor, but again, it was often possible to track down a helpful senior’s tattered copy. Only if you got truly unlucky did you have to deplete your dwindling student resources to fork out money for a 500 page hardbound tome.

Continue reading Fair Use and Course Packs: A Comparative Perspective : Danish Sheikh

Oxford and Cambridge University Publishers v. Students of India

This is an op ed which was written for the Indian Express  and addresses some of the key issues in the ongoing copyright case filed against Rameshwari Photocopy services and the Delhi university. I am reposting  it here for now. It is a little truncated because of the word limit for newspapers but will post a longer version with comparisons from other countries.

Oxford and Cambridge University Publishers v. Students of India

 Accompanying a team conducting a raid against a photocopying shop outside AIIMS a few years ago a copyright lawyer had a moment of revelation akin to the apocryphal story of St Paul’s conversion  on the road to Damascus when Paul was asked by God “Why do you persecute me?”. In this case even as the photocopier was being arrested he defiantly turned to the lawyer and said “If I don’t sell these photocopies where do you think your doctors are going to come from? The lawyer in question is now a leading expert on copyright and public interest and one wonders whether a similar question posed to the lawyers representing Oxford and Cambridge University Press would evoke a similar change of heart especially if they considered their own route to becoming lawyers. The fact of the matter is that in most academic disciplines textbooks are extremely expensive and unaffordable for the average student and if one attempted to buy all the books which are prescribed for a course it would mean that only very few privileged students would afford an education in India. Continue reading Oxford and Cambridge University Publishers v. Students of India

What I learned from “The Patriarchy”: Nilanjana S. Roy

Guest post by NILANJANA S. ROY

Reading Saba Dewan’s post, on patriarchy and St Stephen’s, was a release. For years, I had struggled to make sense of two contradictory things—my years at college were some of the happiest of my life, but the institution that was held up to us as one of the best in India was also built on a flawed and deeply discriminatory set of beliefs.

(It’s hard to write about this in part because it always felt like complaining about what was, in essence, a very privileged life–those of us who went to St Stephen’s were by definition lucky, in our acquisition of English, in our officially liberal families, in our assumption of a secure place in the hierarchies of power in India.) Continue reading What I learned from “The Patriarchy”: Nilanjana S. Roy

Of chick charts, hen charts and other such women’s stories: Saba Dewan

Image credit: Tribhuvan Tiwari / outlookindia.com

Guest post by SABA DEWAN

(For Vrinda, Uma, Sukhpreet, Dipta and all of us who found strength in each other to raise our voices in protest…) 

A few months back I visited St. Stephen’s College in Delhi University for a screening organized by the students there of my film, ‘The Other Song.’ It was my first visit after 26 years when I had been an undergraduate student here from 1982 – ‘85. I confess I have never felt any urge to go back nor have I suffered nostalgia about the three years I spent in St. Stephen’s College although I have carried vivid memories of that time. Sharp, brittle memories that defined many of the choices I have made in life over the years; the most important being of believing in and hopefully practicing a feminist politics based on equality and respect for all. Feminism truly has been a legacy that St. Stephen’s College inadvertently bequeathed to many of its women students of my generation. Continue reading Of chick charts, hen charts and other such women’s stories: Saba Dewan