Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Chancellor's Cabbie and Ours by Chance!

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.” 

Joseph Goebbels

This, as we all know has been the operational plank of the FYUP (task) force headed by the Vice -Chancellor of Delhi University. Today, as part of a discussion on FYUP we had the privilege of listening to the Vice -Chancellor in person as opposed to hearing him speak out of the idiot-box. Many people want to know why some of us continue to protest and turn up for rallies and demonstrations and television shows when the writing on the wall is so clear.

Teachers responsible for enabling young adults to think and learn in a free and unbiased space, have consented to be part of a decision making process that is neither free nor fair. When the mantle of greatness fell upon them, they wrapped it around themselves leaving everything else out in the cold. Expediency and pragmatism aside, the good that comes from collective energy has been lost.
It is inconceivable that teachers are not saddened by the short shrift given to syllabi framing or by the inter-departmental and intra-departmental ugliness this has generated. So for all those who received the gift of an extraordinary education from Delhi University, this continues to be time for introspection and action.

Today's talk show, after several repetitive points had been aired, unveiled a new story. A taxi-driver of Indian origin had a heart to heart with our Vice Chancellor. Discovering that he was speaking to the first citizen of Delhi University,the taxi driver divulged that he was a DU graduate! In an unnamed American city , this DU alumnus egged the VC on to do something about the undergraduate programs at Delhi University.

One quick thinking young lad responded that this taxi -driver had changed the course of Delhi University.The VC replied correctly on principle that it was important to factor the opinion of taxi drivers as higher education must be accessible to every citizen of this country, whatever occupation s\ he chooses.

 Post- show, we were dropped home in a taxi by the media channel that had invited us and while we discussed the story of the American cabbie animatedly, the man at the wheel introduced himself as a graduate from Delhi university. This is a story of a taxi driver from Delhi Universty who never made it to America.
Bhim Raj passed out of the B.Com program in 1982, worked as a sales representative for two years, and then set up a rubber roller unit. This industrial unit shut shop due to the Pollution Control Act of 1996. Subsequently, Bhimraj did trading in rubber rollers for a while but made little money. Despite owning some land he lacks the capital to set up a new industrial unit.

Bhimraj has been  with Aaj Tak since 2004. Coming from a very modest background, (he mentioned that his father was a labourer) Bhimraj has been unable to send his son Sachin to college. Sachin works as a pest controller after having completed class XII. Bhimraj's daughter Anjali is in the first year of college. Her college fees, Bhimraj disclosed took away a whole month's earnings. When we explained the FYUP to him, his response was, "It is very difficult to send children to college , how will we be able to afford the burden of an extra year?" How we wished Bhimraj had been on the show. A graduate and entrepreneur; Delhi University's three year annual course, without the improved program courses  had worked for him! (The pollution board and cash registers still remain outside the university's domain.)

This more pertinent story must be brought to the notice of the VC and his classmates in law(Sibal) politics(Tharoor) and news(Dasgupta). FYUP, gentlemen can do very little for Bhimraj's sons and daughters. There is little data on the countless Indians whom the university has nurtured and enabled, but maybe you need to sift through it? Else, university education will become costlier and inaccessible for the many. It will hold in thrall for an extra year the few that can afford the luxury. These few will be poorly trained as all the disciplines have been watered down and lack  academic rigor.

Why is this being allowed to happen?
Not good enough,  Tharoor, to say that universities must be allowed to experiment and fail. We are dealing with real lives here, Sir, not lobotomized laboratory rats( now in disuse)!
Best time for teachers and students says the University Don who has been away from undergraduate teaching for over thirty years! With truncated syllabi, made in haste and secrecy and zero infrastructure? We really think not!
Teachers shirk and don't teach says the journalist. Take your eyes off the old cliches of news-speak and understand that teaching time has shrunk from the annual mode to the semester! It is poised to shrink further under FYUP!

FYUP is part of a game plan that is much bigger and much larger than we think. This should explain why on TV and in the media, the Vice chancellor acquits himself very poorly. Strong belief in the system that has produced him, lends credibility to the possibility that the VC himself has little idea what this is all about. Possibly, he is following orders? His inability to answer questions, his propensity to fudge facts and provide anecdotal trivia to support the unconstitutional implementation of FYUP, all seem in keeping with this. Is it because he is a front-line pawn in a very large game of aggressive shatranj?  Delhi University's Teachers and the rest of India deserve an explanation. Answers anybody?

1 comment:

  1. Ratna, Your point is well taken . I shudder to think about the teaching learning process under FYUP. Yesterday at a wedding, I saw literally hundreds of young men and women dolled up in ridiculous attires as part of the hospitality industry, employed by the hour as ushers and helpers.
    Most of them were school & college drop outs who were all ' Employed' . Now employment being the buzzword , I seriously doubt whether a mindless syllabus with a dumbed down course & 2,3,4 yr exit option is going to provide employment only of a certain kind:-(