Delhi University: history

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Four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP)

Sequence of events 2013-14

Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh's attempt to synchronise DU's undergraduate course with international norms met with fierce resistance and the FYUP was scuttled in June 2014 after a year-long conflict between its supporters and opponents.

Here is the background and sequence of events:

10 things you must know about Delhi University’s four-year undergraduate programme

The Times of India TNN | Jun 25, 2014

Since 2013, Delhi University's four-year undergraduate programme has been in the news for various reasons. City-wide protests by students and teacher organizations, the fact that DU in fact admitted students into the programme in 2013 despite the uproar, and finally the stepping in of University Grants Commission (UGC) to scrap FYUP are the key highpoints underlining this controversial programme.

In June 2014, Delhi University colleges, slowly but surely started switching back from the controversial four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) to the three-year course. 57 of the university's 64 colleges quietly communicated to UGC that they were moving back to the three-year course.

Here are 10 facts about the controversy surrounding DU's FYUP programme:

1) The Delhi high court in June 2014 fixed the petition on the FYUP-UGC issue for hearing on July 1.

2) 57 of the university's 64 colleges have 'quietly' communicated to UGC that they were moving back to the three-year course. These colleges include Hindu College, Lady Shri Ram, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Miranda House, Venkateswara and Kirori Mal. UGC followed up by asking DU authorities to immediately write to these colleges to begin admission under the three-year programme.

3) Meanwhile, UGC's missive to DU to ask colleges to begin admission under the three-year course could result in another war of nerves. Late in the evening, VC Dinesh Singh, pro-VC Sudesh Pachauri, registrar Alka Sharma and other officials reportedly met to plan their next move. University authorities, sources said, refused to take UGC's latest letter.

4) Responding to the anxiety of BTech students, whose course will be scrapped under the three-year graduation system, UGC said, "Students who feel they will be denied a BTech degree if the three-year course is introduced should not worry. Their interest will be fully safeguarded. They are being egged on by the DU authorities to agitate."

5) Delhi University administration's refusal to officially clarify anything relating to the current admission mess is leaving many DU hopefuls — especially those from other cities-in the lurch. DU admissions were to begin on June 24.

6) The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a petition challenging the University Grants Commission's direction to Delhi University to scrap the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP). Instead, a bench comprising Justices Vikramjit Sen and S K Singh suggested to the petitioner, Aditya Narayan Mishra, who is an assistant professor at Aurobindo College, to approach Delhi high court first.

7) Delhi University VC Dinesh Singh's fate hangs in the balance as it is not clear whether he has resigned or not. DU spokesman Malay Neerav texted a one-line message which said, "VC has resigned". This was followed by 'news' of the resignations of DU proVC Sudesh Pachauri and dean Umesh Rai. Since the VC's resignation had to come to the HRD ministry, officials there got into a huddle to finalize their next move. But as minutes and hours went by, Singh's resignation did not reach the ministry. "DU VC is playing a mind-game and successfully managed to spend another day without bothering about the fate of students," said a ministry official.

8) Protests continue to take place in DU. Those in favour of FYUP want to keep the pressure on; so they — mainly teachers' group like Academics for Action and Development (Aditya Mishra) — sat on a hunger strike. As news of the VC's resignation — which later turned out to be dubious — spread, there were celebrations and exchange of congratulatory messages.

9) Many are shocked at UGC's U-turn on FYUP that came into force in the last academic session. UGC along with a set of HRD officials, led by present education secretary Ashok Thakur, was at the forefront of celebrating FYUP last year. Not long ago, UGC chairperson Ved Prakash at a function in DU campus showered praise on VC Dinesh Singh and FYUP.

10) There seems to be no agreement between the central and state leaderships of Congres on the issue of rollback of FYUP. Senior Congres leader Ghulam Nabi Azad described UGC's directive as a decision taken in "haste" while another Congres leader, Manish Tewari, accused the NDA-led Central government of "trampling (on) and trifling (with)" the autonomy of a premium academic institution like Delhi University.

How the FYUP was scuttled: June 2014

Old letter won UGC FYUP war

Akshaya Mukul New Delhi

The Times of India Jun 28 2014

In the war of nerves that played out for a week, a single letter of July 30, 2013 written by a junior HRD ministry official to the registrar of Delhi University helped the University Grants Commission win the battle over the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). In the letter, the junior woman official raised questions that seniors in the minis try had overlooked or willfully ignored. Reminding the registrar that ordinances of university are submitted to university court and the visitor after the approval of the executive council, she told the university that it was not clear if approval of the EC in May and June, 2013 was placed before the university court.

She also told DU registrar that Baccalaureate degree under FYUP exists in booklet of ordinances despite the fact that the university had informed the ministry that such a degree is being dropped. DU was asked to clarify on these matters and also send resolution of the academic council/executive council and university court on the amendments to the ordinanc es. On its part, the DU administration chose to completely disregard the ministry’s letter. Visitor’s approval would not have happened without these documents.

It also made FYUP illegal.

In the current imbroglio, every time UGC asked DU to furnish proof of Visitor’s approval or reply to HRD’s communication of July 30, 2013, university obfuscated it by stating that it is a Left conspiracy. “We were on facts, DU alleged conspiracy. We knew it will be a tough battle. DU ignored our repeated directives and tried to expand the scope of the subject by bringing in issues extraneous to FYUP. For commission it was an illegal course and had to be scrapped,” one UGC official said.

However, on Thursday, UGC nearly succumbed to the proposal of some academicians considered close to vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh. The proposal was for blending three-year undergraduate courses with FYUP. After intense discussion, the commission felt that in the larger interest of students it should accept the proposal for three-years honours/pass course and keep some courses, especially in science and technology, under FYUP.

After being finalized, UGC’s reply was shown to a lawyer who asked how can the commission declare FYUP to be illegal on one hand and accept parts of it on the other. More discussions followed and it was decided that DU proposal should be rejected completely. UGC took few more hours to firm up its directive to DU. With students and teachers agitating on the streets and more than a lakh admission-seekers facing Delhi heat and uncertainty in DU, the university administration finally succumbed on the morning of June 27.

Student violence

2016-17

BATTLEFIELD CAMPUS|Jul 14 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Student violence in Delhi University, 2016-17
Student violence in Delhi University, 2016-17
Student violence in Delhi University, 2016-17


Syllabus issues

2019: Article on Naxalism junked, concessions in other subjects

Mohammad Ibrar, August 2, 2019: The Times of India

Syllabus issues in DU, as in 2019
From: Mohammad Ibrar, August 2, 2019: The Times of India

For the third time, an article by sociologist Nandini Sundar has been removed from the syllabus of Delhi University where she teaches. The professor’s 2011 article titled ‘At War with Oneself: Constructing Naxalism as India’s Biggest Security Threat’ was included in Michael Kugelman’s ‘India’s Contemporary Security Challenges’. The political science department has removed it from its syllabus. This was revealed in a document accessed by TOI that was submitted to the university’s Executive Council (EC) on July 20.

The English, history and sociology departments have also revised their syllabi for DU’s learning outcome-based curriculum framework after a series of protests by members of the right-wing National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF) and ABVP.

Sunil Sharma, member of DU’s Academic Council (AC) and NDTF, had objected to Sundar’s article in an AC meeting on July 16. He had said, “In the political science syllabus, Naxalism has been shown as a social movement despite the government banning all Maoist organisations. It is urban Naxals like Nandini Sundar who put this in the syllabus to sully the minds of young students. It is not a social movement but a violent and bloody movement.”

Responding to the news, Sundar said, “Whoever is objecting is not objecting on academic grounds. I have nothing more to say.” She added that along with her piece, the entire aspect on the Maoist movement had been removed from syllabus—a fact borne out by the documents accessed by TOI that says that a whole sub-unit on ‘Maoist Challenge’ was removed.

But Sharma said they had an “academic argument” and “we informed that Naxalism should not be taught due to its bloody nature”.

A member of the political science department confirmed the development to TOI but the department head did not respond to queries.

The fracas over syllabus started on July 11 when contents of four course were objected to by NDTF members during a meeting of the standing committee on academic matters. In the July 16 AC meeting, there was ruckus with ABVP members entering the venue as well, protesting against “leftist” content in the syllabus.

BA history honours syllabus was hauled up for a paper on ‘Left Movements; Peasants’ and Workers’ Movements’. According to the EC document, it has been split into two — ‘The Indian Left’ and ‘Peasants’ and Workers’ Movements’. Sunil Kumar, head of history, said, “A course can always be improved. But this revision has been made into a negative process as it is due to politics.”

Since the opponents claimed the sociology syllabus had a “lack of Indian ethos”, the department added ‘Idea of India during Ancient Times’ and ‘Nation Building in India’ as part of its core papers.

The English department has also revised its syllabus. It has dropped a Gujarat riots story, shifted the ‘Literature and Caste’ paper from core to optional, and also removed readings from the Puranas in the ‘Interrogating Queerness’ paper, the latter because it was accused of hurting religious sentiments.

“We have passed the syllabus twice through the faculty and the committee of courses. I am hopeful that the oversight committee will approve the syllabus,” said English department head Raj Kumar.

The final call on the syllabus will be taken by the oversight committee. Maharaj K Pandit, the head of the committee, told TOI, “We have received the syllabus from the departments on Wednesday and we will review and come out with a final decision in the next couple of days.”

YEAR-WISE DEVELOPMENTS

2019

Savarkar, Bose and Bhagat’s busts installed without permission

Shradha Chettri & Mohammad Ibrar, August 21, 2019: The Times of India


Students walking to their classes in the arts faculty at Delhi University on Tuesday morning might have wondered about the flurry of activity behind a tent at the gate. It was only at lunch break did they discover that behind the green sheets was a sandstone pedestal topped by the white marble busts of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose. By then, the university was already in a tizzy, for the statues had been erected without permission of the civic authorites or the university.

The DU authorities were informed of the “unveiling” of the statues around 9am. The busts atop the lotus capital of the pillar had apparently been installed by Shakti Singh, the outgoing president of Delhi University Students Union (Dusu). Tuesday was the last day of his tenure.

Police were called in and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation informed too. But the civic body did not take action, its commissioner Varsha Joshi explaining that “there was too big a crowd there for us to inspect and come to any conclusion”. The university asked Singh to have the statues removed, but did not make an official statement except to say that action was being mulled against the Dusu president.

Singh’s parent organisation, ABVP, did not support the act. Ashutosh Singh, mediain-charge of the R S S-affiliated student organisation, however, said, “Dusu and ABVP are ready to have the statues removed from their current site, but only if the DU administration earmarks a respectful location for them on the campus.”

No permissions, Dusu prez ‘ready to face action’

Highlighting the clandestine nature of the statues’ erection, a senior municipal corporation official explained that to install a statue on public land, it was mandatory to get the permission of a committee headed by the mayor. In the absence of such a permission, the installation had been carried out in a furtive manner.

A tent had been put up at the gate and filled with chairs and tables. While everyone thought an event was being organised, the red sandstone pedestal was quietly raised. Singh disclosed that the busts were sculpted in Delhi, but did not reveal the cost incurred and the time taken to have them made. The black granite plaque on the pedestal has the name of Singh and August 20 as the installation date inscribed on it, though both Singh’s name and August are misspelled.

While Singh said that the statues of Bhagat Singh, Netaji and Savarkar had been put up in consultation with the students, left-wing student group AISA and Congressbacked NSUI condemned the move, especially the clubbing of Bhagat Singh and Bose with Savarkar. The outgoing union president said he was ready to face any action the university was thinking of taking against him. “Hum rasthravichar dhara seh atey hai (we have a nationalistic ideology),” he said. “To respect the acts of Bhagat Singh who was hanged at 25, Netaji who went to a foreign land and formed a liberation army and Savarkarji who was sentenced to 50 years of imprisonment by an international court, I am ready to suffer any punishment.” Narrating the backstory, Singh claimed, “When I became Dusu president, I learnt that there was a room in the vice-chancellor’s office where Bhagat Singh had been confined to for nine days before his hanging. It took us a lot of effort to visit the place. We requested that the university should have his statue.”

Singh said that at a meeting vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi on March 13, he had reiterated the need to erect a statue of these three figures.

“We got no response, so we met him again on March 18 and told him about our plans on the statues. The VC praised me for the initiative,” he claimed.

“I again wrote a letter, but got no response. Since today was my last day, I had to take concrete strong steps.”

Savarkar bust removed

August 25, 2019: The Times of India

Savarkar bust removed from DU campus

The busts of Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose, installed at Delhi University’s Arts Faculty on August 20, were removed early Saturday. While the ABVP claimed that they assisted the administration in removing the busts, the DU administration denied that it had anything to do with it. Outgoing DUSU president Shakti Singh, who had put up the busts, called a protest march against the removal of busts that he claimed were carried out by the university authorities.

2020

VC vs. pro-VC

Shradha Chettri, October 22, 2020: The Times of India

The drama of the absurd unfolded at Delhi University with two vice-chancellors, two registrars and two directors of South Campus in the saddle at the same time. Or so it seemed, shorn of the legalities. This was the fallout of a power tussle between vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi and pro vice-chancellor P C Joshi which threatens to disrupt the functioning of the university.

VC Yogesh Tyagi approved — and through the joint registrar (establishment) — notified the appointment of PC Jha of the department of operational research as director, South Campus, and acting registrar. “He is being appointed in place of Suman Kundu of the department of biochemistry with immediate effect,” the letter read.

Kundu had been appointed by Joshi in the absence of Tyagi, who was undergoing medical treatment.


Pro VC cannot preside over an EC meeting: DU teachers

Joshi had himself been appointed by Tyagi as pro VC on June 28. The position is co-terminus with that of the VC. Going by the university statute, the pro VC looks after the day-to-day functioning in the absence of the VC.

As Jha took over as registrar, he postponed the executive council meeting scheduled for Wednesday. In his letter, he said the agenda items has not been revised as asked for by the competent authority, i.e. the VC.

Joshi, however, had other plans. He wrote a letter to Jha, titled “Illegal occupation of registrar office”. It read: “You are hereby directed to vacate the office of the registrar, which has been illegally occupied by you since the morning of October 21. The act on your part is hampering the functioning of the university. In case you are not vacating the office immediately (sic), you will be forcibly moved out of office and action initiated against you.”

He signed the letter as “vice-chancellor (acting)”. Meanwhile, police landed up at the Viceregal Lodge, which houses the VC’s office. Nothing came of it. “The acting vice-chancellor is appointed by the visitor of the university, who is President of India. No such appointment has been made. And, when the appointed VC is still in office, why is there a need for an acting VC?” asked a university official who didn’t wish to be quoted. Undeterred by the new registrar’s letter, Joshi went ahead with the EC meeting. The agenda included appointment of registrar and finance officer, promotions in various departments, and appointment of principals in many colleges. According to sources, the EC had to also nominate two members for the search committee for appointment of the new vice-chancellor. Tyagi’s term ends in March 2021.

At the meeting, Joshi notified that Vikash Gupta was to be appointed as registrar and Girish Ranjan as finance officer. A resolution was moved that Kundu will function as director, South Campus, and registrar till permanent/ new appointees joined the university.

Teachers and former members of the statutory body said that a pro VC cannot preside over an EC meeting. An EC meeting had been stopped midway on October 10 as well. Shriram Oberoi, former DUTA president who has now retired, said: “As far as the law is concerned, vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi is still in his post and not on leave. Statue 11 H (5) states that “subject to the control and supervision of the vice-chancellor, the pro vicechancellor shall perform such duties and exercise such functions and powers as the vice-chancellor may specify generally or in individual cases and shall assist the vice-chancellor on all matters academic and administrative. This means that for a pro VC to chair a meeting of EC, the VC’s authorisation is needed, and that has not happened.”

Joshi didn’t respond to several calls and messages. Tyagi too didn’t respond to messages.

Speaking to TOI, the new registrar, Jha, said: “P C Joshi is a pro vice-chancellor and no one has appointed him as acting vice-chancellor. Since the morning, Prof Tyagi has also appointed OSD, programme implementation; joint OSD, vice-chancellor office; and a consultant in special project. All this is being done by vested interests. As a registrar, I am the member secretary and I did not attend this EC meeting which cannot be put on record.”

The academic community was critical of the entire row. “This is absolutely the worst day in the history of the university. Vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi should have attended the meeting today. Had he formed a stable team for nearly four and a half years, such a situation wouldn’t have arisen,” said Ashwini Shanker, chairman of INTEC, a teachers’ group. “After a long time, promotions had begun in the university and its colleges, an issue that is now hanging fire. The visitor of this university must intervene and uphold the rightful claims of the officials.”

DUTA president Rajib Ray said: “The university can be governed only through the provisions of its act and statutes. Prof Yogesh Tyagi should take responsibility or else allow the university to be governed by other officials as mandated by the act. The university cannot be pushed into a mess.”

2021

Stories by SC writers dropped from Eng syllabus

Shradha Chettri, August 26, 2021: The Times of India

‘Draupadi’, a story by Mahashweta Devi, and the writings of Bama Faustina Soosairaj and Sukirtharani, both Tamil Dalit feminist writers, were removed from the English syllabus in Delhi University. Despite the resistance of 15 elected members, the Academic Council approved the chop.

Some teachers expressed surprise at this decision of the university’s oversight committee which they allege had no representatives from the English department, the head of the department being only a special invitee. The panel considers syllabus changes that are contentious.

Mithuraaj Dhusiya, AC member who signed the dissent note on the syllabus change, claimed, “The restructuring of the syllabus has been ongoing and has been democratically done at various levels. A year ago, the AC formed the oversight committee to look at controversial syllabus changes. But the committee does not have a locus standi to alter anything. There were political reasons for removing certain texts. We 15 elected members expressed dissent, but the English changes were still approved.”

The dissent note reads, “In a core paper titled Women’s Writing in semester V, the oversight committee has committed the maximum vandalism. It first decided to remove two Dalit authors, namely Bama and Sukirtharani, who were replaced by upper-caste writer Ramabai. Second, the committee, as an afterthought, suddenly asked for the deletion of the celebrated short story of Mahasweta Devi, ‘Draupadi’.”

M K Pandit, chairman of the oversight committee, asserted, “The oversight committee is appointed by the Executive Council, the highest decisionmaking body of the university, and is an empowered committee. This panel has been working for over six years now and was specifically created to look at matters of syllabuses particularly when the AC and EC meetings aren’t held.”

Dhusiya described ‘Draupadi’ as a seminal text discussing the exploitation of tribal women. “It is in the syllabus since 1999 and is a part of the UGC template. We don’t know why DU removed it,” she said. ‘Sultana’s Dreams’, a short story, has replaced it.

The dissent note added, “In a discipline-specific elective paper titled ‘Pre-colonial Indian Literatures’, the oversight committee has instructed the department to replace ‘Chandrabati Ramayana’ with Tulsidas, thus removing a feminist reading of the Ramayana. Similarly, in another DSE paper titled ‘Interrogating Queerness’, the committee has arbitrarily deleted sections from the units at the expense of the academic rigour of the paper.”

In 2019, there was controversy over the removal and alteration of English texts on the riots in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar from the reading list. In history too, there was an objection to Naxalism being taught as part of the ‘Democracy at Work’ paper. In sociology, a chapter from Nandini Sundar’s Subalterns and Sovereign: An Anthropological History of Bastarran into trouble, but was later retained.

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