Tag Archives: MHRD

“No research please, we are college teachers” – On the HRD Ministry’s latest bright idea.

A version of this piece appeared yesterday in The Wire

“I would like to thank Huddersfield University for enabling me to have a sabbatical semester to work on this revised edition and for providing such a supportive environment. Thanks to many of the students on my Women, Power and Society module for their hard work and enthusiasm.”

That is the dedication in a book by British scholar and teacher Valerie Bryson – a text I often use for teaching at a college in Delhi University. Evidently, Bryson found her teaching and research lives complementing each other beautifully, as have thousands of university and college teachers who have had the luck to have what she calls a “supportive” professional and academic environment. What are the elements of this support? A sabbatical semester or year every once in a while, ready research facilities within the college premises or nearby, and an opportunity to formulate teaching courses that ally with your research focus. With these elements in place, both teaching and research benefit dramatically.

Until recently, college teachers in this country had the first two conditions. They were given in their entire careers – say from the age of 26 or 27 when one normally began teaching at a college to the age of 65 – three years of paid study leave to pursue or finish their PhDs (with the usual conditions and caveats including a strict bond that they signed with college promising to return the three years’ pay if the PhD remained incomplete, or if they resigned upon return to the institution) and a further two years of (until recently, paid and now invariably unpaid or “extraordinary”) leave to take a break from teaching and pursue a postdoctoral or visiting fellowship at a research institute.

Continue reading “No research please, we are college teachers” – On the HRD Ministry’s latest bright idea.

Fearless Minds and Heads Held High: To the CDS Student Community


Dear Friends

Ever since the Hindutva right-wing attacks on the country’s youthful citizens intensified – from the Kiss of Love protests to the attacks on politicized dalit youth on the campuses of IIT Madras and HCU, and now, against JNU – we have come together several times as a group to defend our right to critical thinking, action, and speech and protest against atrocities in the name of national interest and culture. We have come out not to defend our petty interests but in defense of the Indian Nation as we imagine it – differently from the right-wing – as belonging to  the communities of peasants, workers, students, artisans, dancers, singers, small traders, and thousands of other groups that contribute to the economy of this country, as the homeland of vast sections of underprivileged people denied humanity in the name of caste, class, culture, ethnicity and gender. Continue reading Fearless Minds and Heads Held High: To the CDS Student Community

Collective struggle strengthens autonomy: Saroj Giri

Guest post by SAROJ GIRI, continuing the discussion on roll-back of FYUP in Delhi University. 

Earlier posts on this issue are listed and linked to here.

Here is one way to make sense of the core issue at stake in Delhi University today – this piece by Nandini Sundar arguing that the UGC directive amounts to hampering institutional autonomy of DU.

But this is a flawed position in the present context. It conflates the autonomy of DU with the autonomy of the VC. It construes DU’s autonomy in narrow institutional terms, overlooking the larger movement of teachers and students which is also ‘DU’ and which has consistently opposed the FYUP.

Sundar suggests withdrawal of the UGC directive, the setting up of a DU committee to overhaul the programme, and deliberation in the Academic Council, this time taking proper heed of anti-FYUP views. But do we need a fresh round of discussion on the pros and cons of FYUP?

Absolutely not. For there have been tons of deliberations over the FYUP. Just go back to the minutes and records of the many different meetings and Committees, or recall the many demos and dharnas. There is ample evidence of deliberation where the members of the University have given sound reasons why the FYUP is bad.

Indeed, the picture presented that it is the Ministry or the UGC imposing its diktat from above is simply not true. It is not some committee in the UGC or Ministry which on their own have decided to stall the FYUP. For it is force of the movement against FYUP and the many, many voices active since the last few years who have prevailed now – it is this which is reflected in the UGC directive. Continue reading Collective struggle strengthens autonomy: Saroj Giri

Autonomy for what, from whom, and for whom?

It seems the unthinkable has happened – the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University has resigned over the UGC’s pressure to withdraw the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). I won’t go into the debate on the FYUP, which has been covered extensively on Kafila and elsewhere [1]. See particularly this post by Professors at the University. I am only interested in two issues that arise from the news coverage of the event as it has unfolded through the day.

One, the question of autonomy. Prima facie, as Apoorvanand and Satish Deshpande have argued comprehensively on Kafila, the resignation of a VC over pressure from the UGC seems to be evidence of bureaucratic or ministerial over-reach. Questions have been raised (rightly) over the timing of this pressure, coming as it does on the heels of a political shift of colossal proportions at the national level. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (I find myself in agreement with Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari’s language on this) to figure out that the change in Delhi University has political backing. For one, rollback of the FYUP was on the BJP’s agenda/manifesto – that is as political as it gets! Second, it was this very UGC that had been so coy about commenting on the FYUP for the past one and a half years, a coyness that amounted to tacit support. Only very recently had it moved its mammoth bureaucratic feet on the matter, constituting a committee to look into complaints from students and teachers that had finally reached its mammoth bureaucratic ears. The VC, being well acquainted with elephants, would be able to explain the mammoth temporality of this apex organisation better than any of us, having benefited from it for a goodly amount of time. Even after the constitution of the committee, the VC continued to be lauded by the UGC for his efforts at implementation of former HRD minister Kapil Sibal and his successor Pallam Raju’s efforts at radical educational reform. The committee met at a leisurely pace, no doubt fortified by several hundred samosas and robust air-conditioning in the UGC’s Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg office in central Delhi, while anti-FYUP protestors enjoyed the blazing sun or freezing cold outdoors, as they had been enjoying for a year and a half.

Continue reading Autonomy for what, from whom, and for whom?

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