Since January of 2012, residents of Delhi University’s largest postgraduate women’s hostel, University Hostel for Women (UHW) have been waging a battle against outright suppression of their democratic rights by, both, their hostel authorities and the University’s Proctorial Committee. Since the hostel’s Chairperson is also the Proctor of the University, the Proctorial Committee has been intervening in the matter, not as a neutral party, but in complete connivance with the hostel authorities. There are two issues which are central to the ongoing struggle of the women students, namely, the imposition of a union constitution by the authorities, and the existence of archaic and conservative rules in the hostel.
In politics, policy making or indeed any interaction with the larger world, one notices a distinct characteristic – one makes a decision, then facts or circumstances make it obvious that it was a wrong or bad one. And what does one do? In most cases, one continues to take further decisions to bolster the impression that the original decision taken was correct and in the process, makes matters worse. This is relatively innocuous in normal social interaction but disastrous in the public sphere as we have witnessed in mishandling of the events related to the Lokpal movement. A very similar situation has recently emerged in the University of Delhi. Continue reading Compounding the Error – Marks inflation at Delhi University: Shobhit Mahajan→
Shahid Amin has earlier written about the role of the Oxford University Press (India) in the censorship of AK Ramanjuan’s essay on the Ramayana. This press release, signed by a group of Indian scholars at Oxford University, comes to us via Agrima Bhasin.
Date: 30 November 2011
A petition by members of Oxford University has condemned Oxford University Press (OUP) India’s unflattering role and its deafening silence on the controversy surrounding Delhi University’s recent decision to drop A.K. Ramanujan’s essay (Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation). This petition has gained the abounding support of Oxford intelligentsia across 15 departments and 20 constituent colleges. Signatories include distinguished faculty members, senior academics and students.
In 2008 OUP India unceremoniously decided to stop publication of the only two books (Paula Richman’s Many Ramayanas and Vinay Dharwadker’s The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan) containing Ramanujan’s essay. This happened to coincide with legal proceedings instituted inter alia against OUP India by fringe religious and cultural groups. OUP India’s prolonged subsequent silence on this matter lent widespread credence to the contention that OUP India caved in to external pressure thereby compromising its stated goals of “…[furthering] excellence in research, scholarship… by publishing worldwide.”
On the face of it, Siddharth Chowdhury’s Day Scholar, is a coming of age novel. The book’s own inside cover actually describes it as a “crazed and profane coming of age tale”, whose plot is ostensibly about how Patna boy Hriday Thakur (“who hopes to be a writer some day”) is first “trapped… by a series of misjudgements” and later “saved from a terrible end”. But much like Chowdhury’s previous offering, Patna Roughcut (also billed as “a story of love, idealism and sexual awakening” that takes us to “the heart of an aching, throbbing youth”), Day Scholar – despite a self-referential moment when its protagonist is asked by his father about how his Bildugsroman is coming along – is not a book that seems containable within the neat boundaries of the coming-of-age genre. Continue reading Brilliant Tutorials: Trisha Gupta reviews Siddharth Chowdhury’s “Day Scholar”→
On 9 April 2011, 11 members of the English Department of Delhi University (almost the entire Department) resigned from various (non-statutory) work committees within the Department. They carried on all their other duties, including teaching, regardless. This mass resignation followed repeated requests from them to their Head of Department to call a meeting of the Department Council of the English Department. By resigning (only from the non-statutory committees), the members of the Department were hoping to bring largely symbolic and moral pressure to bear on the Head, to perform his duties!!
You know something is seriously wrong with a workplace when members of Department have to bring pressure to bear on a Head to perform his or her regular, statutory duties. You should really smell a rat when it’s not the minions and juniors but the bosses at the highest levels that are bending and twisting rules to their advantage; publicly ignoring long-standing statutes and conventions; inventing new ones almost overnight; and practising selective amnesia about procedures.
[A Report on ‘The Everyday Life of a Discipline’- a colloquium on contemporary English Studiesthat took place on February 4, 2011, at the Department of English, University of Delhi]
Unlike the social sciences, humanities in India at least, have been less systematic and meticulous about introspection. This is slightly odd owing to the fact that the onslaughts on humanitities, from both outside and from within its own quarters, have been quite relentless and ballistic of late. Besides, it is a good idea to take stock of things from time to time as disciplines morph and change gear. So, when I was asked to be part of a group of practitioners of humanities who were at the forefront of the last bit of stock-taking that took place during the late nineteen-eighties, I was curious to know how they see their own transition at this point of time and also get a sense about their assessment of English studies now, apart from my own contribution to the current debates.
This is a guest post by ALOK RAI. It was first sent to the Indian Express which refused to publish it.
Deepak Pental’s inter-personal skills are, of course, legendary. And this last – his parting shot in Indian Express (28 October) – merely strengthens his already formidable reputation, and ensures that he will be regarded with the customary affection even as he leaves. Thus, not only is the Teachers’ Association compared to a khap panchayat – could this conceivably be a compliment, either to his beloved teachers, or to the khap panchayats? – but an entirely gratuitous insult is directed at college teachers, en bloc. Thus, they are stagnant, distant from research, unlike (!) University professors. This is rich, but Professor Pental can manage his own friends and enemies, and I have no desire to engage with him at this point. However, this is being written in the hope that his successor – whoever he or she may be – would at least like to choose their own battles, and not merely fight inherited ones on the bloodied, toxic battlefield bequeathed to them. And, indeed, by way of doing my citizenly duty to assist the honourable judges of the High Court, who are periodically asked to take a stand on the vexed question of “semesterization”.
A Guest Post sent to us by BONOJIT HUSSAIN and NAINA MANJREKAR
[This is a leaflet issued by the University Community for Democracy which has come up in the wake of the arbitrary and authoritarian eviction of students from the hostels of Delhi University for the Commonwealth Games. Initially starting off as a facebook discussion among students, the anger has now snowballed into a movement that seeks to go beyond the immediate question of evictions. – AN]
Down with eviction of students from College Hostels!
Onwards to students self-activity!!
The current administration of Delhi University has attempted to reshape the University through a series of sinister agendas – be it the introduction of semester system, the European Studies Programme or the biometric identification system. All of them have shared one thing in common: the thwarting of democratic debate on proposals for change, and the routine violation of regulatory protocols.
The latest episode has been the eviction of students (2,000 students according to reports) from a number of hostels in Delhi University in order to make them available for the Commonwealth Games. Hostels are being renovated and beautified for the officials and visitors of the Games, while students are scrambling around for their own accommodation. The students, like the 40,000 families on the Yamuna bank, are now among the many that have been displaced in the name of national glory. What comes into question is the fact that the University has agreed to avail of 20 crores of rupees from the Commonwealth Games project without taking any cognisance of how and where such resources are generated. It has thus become an accomplice in the larger process of reckless corporatisation that the whole city is undergoing in the bid of becoming a “global city”.
The latest in the list of efforts to “meet international standards” is the proposal to introduce biometric attendance for teachers across Delhi University. According to Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental, this new system is in keeping with the “spirit of transparency inculcated by the Right to Information Act.” But this commitment to a “spirit of transparency” becomes immediately questionable when one reflects on the undemocratic ways in which proposals such as these are being pushed through. Much like the semester system which is going to be implemented despite widespread dissent, it is rightfully feared that Deepak Pental may go ahead with this proposal while paying scant regard to teachers’ hostility towards it. Continue reading Reflections on Biometric Attendance: Kriti Budhiraja→
A lot of you must have seen the edit in today’s HT condemning the act of vandalism and the news of the arrest of three ABVP activists. You must have also seen reports in today’s newspapers about the demonstration yesterday in Delhi University of students and teachers demanding punishment to the guilty and reiterating the pledge that the text should not be expunged just because ABVP/BJP finds it objectionable. For those who want to look up, the text in question is A K Ramanujan’s Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation, also available in a volume edited by Paula Richman: Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia (OUP; 1991.)