Academics, politicians and activists from across the country came together on Friday to discuss the now controversial four-year undergraduate programme of Delhi University.
Political leaders Sitaram Yechury, Sharad Yadav, academics Yashpal, MM Ansari, Jayati Ghosh and activist and writer Arundhati Roy raised their voices against the course, questioning the rationale as well as the method of implementation of the new programme.
Attacking vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh for branding all protesters leftists, JNU professor Jayati Ghosh said DU was trying to reduce critical thinking and create an army of intellectual coolies who will only do jobs. She also said it had made a mockery of processes.
“It is hard to build institutions. Course revision has become a joke. Councils are being turned into rubber stamps. It is a source of great concern that people are falling in line with this dismantling,” said Ghosh.
Questioning the motivation for bringing in the system, Hargopal, a professor of the University of Hyderabad, wanted to know who had raised the demand for the FYUP. “There needs to be clarity about where the demand has come from,” he said.
The panelists also emphasised the importance of involving more people in the struggle.
“Members for other universities have to join the struggle and build a larger movement to stop this. This change is being made using the back door and other varsities may soon follow suit. This is not a struggle against just one university or vice-chancellor. This move will marginalise the already-marginalised,” Yechury said.
Writer Roy criticised the move and said DU wants to stifle the culture of discussion and debate. “The varsity is using the lure of jobs to sell the course. In reality, jobs will be given only to those who are non-questioning zombies,” she said.
University teachers have also started an online petition asking DU to withdraw the FYUP. This petition, for alumni, has already been signed by close to 3000 people already.