Sunday, April 28, 2013


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Indian academics need some issue to scream their throats off. A few years back it was the Ayodhya question, then it was the Godhra issue and now the four year degree programme. I am amazed at the tenacity with which they enter the public domain and start screaming about issue over which they have just not applied their limited minds. I cannot say that they oppose innovative schemes just for the sake of sounding the bugle of war. Rather it is an identity issue. To be taken seriously as an "academic' one must reinforce his/her credentials by staking out positions which are then amplified as they move form one opinion maker to another. Soon we have a cacophony of noises and the real issue gets submerged. Unfortunately these opinion makers and academics have very close links with the ruling establishment and any voice of dissent is branded "sfforization". Thus India has intellectuals whose only claim on public indulgence is the capacity to stray from one noisy issue to another without waiting to think of the consequences. The same is true of the 4 year degree programme introduced by the University ofDelhi. These public intellectuals who rail against this new innovation are well aware of the fact that all over the world the undergraduate degree is of 4 years duration. India is not able to make the cut to the Shanghai list o9r the Times list only because there is a serious disconnect between undergraduate and graduate programmes. Even in USA the undergraduate degree is of 4 years length. Indians wanting to go to the USA for their post graduate education are now expected to have an MA degree which is recognized as the equivalent of the 4 year degree course. Delhi University is only falling in line with global norms. The cacophony has already started. This morning's Hindu published from Chennai carried a center page article by a tele intellectual from that bastion of intellectual and social snobbery, JNU, in which the author has stated that the 4 year undergraduate programme is an error both in letter and spirit. She finds fault with the courses termed bridge courses which have been introduced in order to make the students competitive on the job front. It is highly elitist to say that the University should be concerned only with knowledge and not the job market. These privileged academics unlike those of us struggling in less well endowed universities do not have to bother about the first generation learners and their concern for the education of "dalits" is just that, notional and theoretical. The courses suggested and introduced by the University will go a long way in helping the stu dents get jobs in an ever shrinking job market especially after the introduction of the Mandal reservations for the OBCs who are both politically and economically well off. The major criticism seems to be that procedures were not followed. If the Academic Council and the due procedures were to be followed no innovation can ever be introduced as vested interests will organize themselves with such vigour that the Vice Chancellor will look foolish. I think the University of Delhi has done the student community a great favor and the UGC must ensure that the rest of the country follows suit. h

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