The controversial four-year undergraduate programme has been the subject of almost every protest in Delhi University in the past one year. In fact, it had united the Left and Right-affiliated organisations on campus with both carrying out protests on day one of admissions. Therefore, news reports stating that the Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani wanted to revoke the programme and replace it with the university’s old three-year programme – was welcomed by many and disapproved too at large.
The FYUP is a deeply inequality programme, designed to force students from economically weaker sections to discontinue their degree education in regular colleges. There would be no problem to economically weaker section of society even. However, some sections of the people feel that this is one of the worst decisions taken by HRD. Meanwhile, FYUP helped in many ways. Acceptability abroad since foreign colleges care only about 4 year degrees. Doing 3 year B.Sc and 1 year M.Sc is not considered the same thing as a 4 year B.Tech or BA program. FYUP would have led to standardization of programs across universities in India and abroad eventually. It would have introduced research and practical projects. Indian universities are very weak in terms of quality of projects and practical work. There are vested teachers interests and ignorant students who will harm the system. This is where an educated Minister can play a critical role. Irani, lacking in higher education, is thus going to be influenced more by political interests than by the merits of the case. India stands to lose if at all Irani cares about BJP’s manifesto. The manifesto could be wrong. She needs to understand the motivations behind the conversion of 3 years to 4 years programs.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) has been knocking on doors and carrying out protests, even sitting on a 50-day hunger strike against FYUP. The All-India Students’ Association (AISA) had carried out intense protests throughout the year and at almost every university function. It had also carried out a referendum, in which overwhelming majority of the students were against the programme. “It is proved yet again that when students and teachers unite for a cause victory is certain. AISA congratulates thousands of students who actively fought against FYUP in their colleges and joined the protests braving the intimidation of the college administration. Even in the last few weeks when majority of teachers and students are on summer vacation the movement has continued through continuous protest actions.
The Right-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which won the Delhi University Students’ Union elections in 2013 mainly because of their stand on the FYUP will carry out a protest in front of the MHRD to ensure that the Ministry revoked the programme. However, uniformity beyond a set of guidelines can only kill creativity and initiative. It’s even against the nature’s laws. Why don’t we have local subjects, local matters, local materials and environment as the basis for base studies and then a combination of these with non-local precepts as the subject of higher and advanced studies? Education should be ongoing. It should be free to the people. It should not penalize people for topping out when their potential is reached. People should not be taking classes based on “earning potential” which assigns a value in currency to your life. When everyone is contributing to a quality of life that benefits everyone for a greater good, those natural leaders will rise to help guide the communities. Until unless, there is co-mingling and continuous movement within the educational space, we are actually looking at a dead start, Where would the dream of being ‘World Guru’ get fulfilled through such an education system? I think, we would have betrayed our own aspirations by accepting to implement CBCS revoking FYUP in the form that it finds mention here. The notion of autonomous universities sounds ideal. We rack up insurmountable amounts of debt getting “educated”, and then we spend the next 4 decades working in jobs that stress us and degrade us to pay it off, ensuring that we never use our time, efforts, youthfulness, or intelligence to upset the status quo for our ruling elites.
The FYUP is part of several ongoing protests against the implementation of certain controversial reforms at the University of Delhi. The protests intensified between 2013 and 2014, when a new four year undergraduate programme was started by the administrative authorities at the university. In June 2014, the University Grants Commission (UGC) sent a legal notice to the management, directing the university to immediately scrap the four year programme and revert back to the earlier three year undergraduate degree, as it found the four year programme to be in violation with the National Policy of Education in India. Proponents of the FYUP programme, and members of the academic fraternity, felt that UGC’s directive to the university was a step against its autonomy. However, others see these reforms as a move to privatise a public university, as part of the previous Congress-led UPA government’s agenda to enable foreign universities to set up campuses in India. They instead stressed upon the need for greater public policy and regulation in the education system.
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