(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
Guest post by KAVERI GILL
The world of development is as prone to fashions as any other. In recent times, ‘evidence-based policy’ has become the new gold standard, following hot on the heels of participation and ownership of policy processes and outcomes by academics, activists and civil society groups. This applies within nation states, especially of the global South. India today epitomises such objective and bottom-up democratic largesse in favour of the ‘aam admi’- for largesse it is, make no mistake – with a near constant refrain of the avowed aim of ‘inclusive growth’. And yet, does it really?
Or is politically correct discourse and seemingly open decision-making processes in the social sector sphere merely dangerous fig leaves for seismic and opaque shifts in policy, which have very little to do with evidence and even less to do with broad-based consensus? Rather, they are an outcome of fixed ex-ante views – which may be termed as a distinct partiality to the Chicago School of Economics – about the path to a fictitious endpoint of a mainstream development paradigm, which itself is faith-based. It is not justified by theory or a heterodox reading of the empirical experiences of presently developed countries, let alone latecomer developing nations which are, for various exogenous and endogenous reasons, likely to have different trajectories altogether. I refer here to the hackneyed line about faster growth being pursued as a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for eventual trickle down, no matter that the ‘dur khaima’ of an equitable society is never arrived at! Continue reading Evidence, Consensus and Policy: Kaveri Gill on the curious case of changes proposed in India’s public health policy
As someone recently commented on a Kafila post, we live in a post-fact world where there are no facts. Everyone believes what they want to. So depending on your ideology, poverty in India has reduced or increased. But such is the debate on poverty that the definition of poverty itself is subject to debate. How poor do you have to be, so that the government will say you are poor? This poverty debate has been on around the same lines for about ten years now, with the economic left arguing that India isn’t shining, and the economic centre-right arguing that millions of people have been lifted out of poverty by India’s super-successful economic growth. The debate will go on forever, there will be no certainty in numbers, and perhaps there shouldn’t be – perhaps counting the poor cheapens the issue of poverty. Counting the poor leads us to ask, what about the only -slightly-better-than-the-poor? Counting the poor leads us to compare poverty numbers and give us relief. Ah, only 30% Indian poor now, as opposed to 50% in such and such decade, nice! Great job India! No, this is not what the poor deserve, whether they are 30% or 50%. Perhaps we should stop counting the poor. Continue reading Let’s not count the poor (seriously)