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Millennium Post

Course correction puts students first

The stand-off between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Delhi University (DU) over the four-year undergraduate programme, despite all the political and legal imperatives, is really a great inconvenience to the hapless young boys and girls looking forward to seek admission into the biggest central university in the country. With UGC and DU unable to reach an implementable consensus and the vice chancellor’s bogey presenting a face-saver in partial roll-back of the dreadful FYUP, there’s still no light at the end of the long dark tunnel that is the logjam. There’s however a lot of mutual blame-gaming, and shuttling around of responsibilities and hurling unmentionable abuses at each other. Behind all the talk on the autonomy of the university, there’s the collective amnesia on how effectively the mess was the creation of the HRD ministry under the former UPA government. At that time, there were paeans written on the efficacy and inventiveness of FYUP by stalwarts like Shashi Tharoor, Kapil Sibal and Pallam Raju. That the vice chancellor merely implanted, forcibly and illegally, a blue-print to enable substandard American University have tie-ups with DU and facilitate easy movement of students within this thoroughly industrialised and commercialised education market, has been forgotten in the hue and cry over the deadlock between DU and UGC. What has also been airbrushed is how UGC has acted like a mere puppet of the establishment, swinging and swimming in the direction preferred by the regime in the centre. Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) has been fighting this war for over one and half years, ever since the idea was floated in December 2012. That the curricular material for the compulsory foundational courses was designed in just 15 days is something the teachers of DU have been trying to explain for over twelve months now, only to be met with utter apathy until the regime change at the centre.
   
 It is important that DU comes to mean its students, teachers and staff and not just the elite bodies in either the Academic Council or the vice chancellor’s office. Hence, all the inconvenience faced by the students, present and prospective, must be the sole reason why the logjam should come to an amicable end, with the concerns of the teachers equally addressed in the mutually agreed upon solution. What should kept in mind that scrapping FYUP will not be the guarantee of quality education since only course material cannot ensure healthy and engaging teaching practices. While higher education must not be held hostage to any extreme ideology, whether on the left or the right, it is important that a middle path is followed to keep the sanctity of the esteemed institution intact. Delhi University must not be allowed to become a cauldron for the unethical market forces to stream-roll their way into India’s education sector. 
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