Saturday, June 21, 2014
Open Letter To Delhi University's Vice Chancellor
Dear Sir, Having been weighed down since the time you annexed our university and made it part of your extended private empire, I took the liberty of writing to you. Also, things are moving from hot to heated and worse in the month of June. Of course you are not sorry about the fact that thousands of young people and middle aged teachers are not taking a much needed break or reading something that would add to their lives. Instead they have spent the entire summer protesting in public spaces about how you have jeopardized lives and careers by violating Education Commission Guidelines and reducing higher education to a mere shadow of its once resplendent stature. I recall how you contributed to the destruction of the seasons at Delhi University. In the best teaching months of the year,November and December, you egged on students to take semester exams and then cool their heels at home in gorgeous weather. Since you rarely attended classes, or took them in the recent public past, you had little compunction about getting everybody to attend college and teach and learn well into hot April and then give exams in the excruciating heat of May and June, when scientifically productivity is at its lowest. No, we don't hold you responsible for Delhi's extreme weather, only for making the worst possible use of it, and "worst possible use" of everything conceivable has really been the high-point of your tenure as Vice Chancellor. Sidelining elected teacher representatives, pretending that the DUTA was an illegal, unofficial body was a misplaced move, on par with your sidelining of statutory decision making bodies such as the Academic and Executive Councils. The decision to design academic curriculum, instead of assisting and enabling through infrastructural support, which is really the role of university administration, was another frightful mistake. During this round, you incarcerated all departments rendering democratic teacher's general bodies in each department null and void. You took our subject specializations away from us and served show cause notices to any one who dared to dissent. We found ourselves out of an academic environment, neck deep in a rat-race, principals who had turned into FYUP salespersons supervising handpicked syllabi makers motivated by all sorts of incremental rewards. No vice chancellor can be a subject expert in every subject taught at the university. Setting up a new chain of command and getting handpicked teachers to report directly to you and frame syllabi is far removed from best practice. It qualifies as worst practice, as does your constant refrain that due process was observed in the Academic Council and the Executive council. You organized an academic congress and set up a task force to achieve your ends and this was distortion and manipulation of due process. Do keep your courtiers apprised of this small detail. They seem to have lost sight of this fact altogether. Possessing academic sovereignty as central university teachers in Independent India, we have never required a task force in university environs in peace-time.The truth was, you had waged war on everything the university stood for. The foundation courses you initiated compels belief that it was brought on because you studied under the older 8+3+3 scheme. If only you had done the 10+2+3 as many of us have, you could have studied in greater depth and detail some of the shabby compulsory foundation courses that you recently piled upon the heads of hapless students. These students studied all subjects and took exams in class X and then spent two years training for specializations they could opt for as undergraduates. It is also a great pity that the insights of political science after class VIII were denied to you. It might have enabled you to distinguish between state and university and led you to realize that they are constituted differently and subject to altogether different rules. As of now,seers Sibal, Tharoor and Pitroda, who sponsored your Trishanku-like ascent into the Upperworld have fled the scene. Even the worshipful secretaries and doting UGC officials(the only people whom you took into confidence while you conned us)have begun to look beyond your personal charisma and seriously examine paperwork,in many instances, possibly for the first time. Shouldn't you, in your own interest, listen to what the cosmos is telling you? Sabre-rattling and getting your meager troops together is unlikely to set any streets ablaze, even in this weather. This is worrying.. even more worrying than the elephant ride you undertook to the campus inaugural, unheeding of our antardhvani. Who rides elephants when they own feet and especially after luxury cars have been invented? Shouldn't we be done with all this now, your riding on elephants and riding roughshod over Delhi University? Let us not prolong this agony. We shall let bygones be bygones if you will allow us to believe that you too will soon be gone. It is going to need a lot of hard work to put Delhi University together again.