People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 09, 2013




Scrap FYUP, Save Delhi University!


Vijender Sharma


THE University of Delhi (DU) is currently on ventilator and, going by what see as students, researchers, teachers, parents and as citizens of this country, it is going to die quite soon. It is not likely to be the way Nalanda or Takshila died. It is dying because of the supporters of American imperialism like the prime minister, HRD ministers, leaders of the Planning Commission and their lackeys, bureaucrats and, no less because of Delhi University administration with its most authoritarian vice chancellor. But associated with its death would be a brazen loot of the Indian students, parents and people in future by the predatory elements of American educational imperialism.   


This university can be saved even now. It can be saved only if the president, the prime Minister, the Congress president and HRD minister start caring for the indigenous higher education system and stop converting it to suit the needs of American universities as has been proposed in twelfth plan. They cannot take refuge in the garb of autonomy of the university and refuse to intervene. The autonomy cannot be without accountability. If the autonomy is being used to kill an institution, they with their given positions have no option but to intervene --- immediately. If they do not act now, the people would not forgive them and their names would go down in history as those who presided over the dismantling of a premier educational institution, viz the University of Delhi.




In the last few years, the University of Delhi has been converted into a laboratory of neo-liberal ‘reforms’ in higher education. These ‘reforms’ are in accordance with the requirements of American educational imperialism, its universities and education mafia. First, the semester system was imposed without discussions and despite opposition by the stakeholders. Many courses were passed under emergency powers of the then vice chancellor who created a reign of terror in the university. The students admitted under semester system are yet to reach their third year of the programme. The experience of the semester system has not been reviewed so far.


With the new vice chancellor taking over the charge of the university, the reign of terror was further strengthened by cutting the salaries of teachers for protesting even on Sundays or gazetted holidays like Dussehra, Diwali and Id. These two vice chancellors did not allow permanent appointments of teachers and non-teaching staff. They created an army of adhoc teachers, about half the teaching community, and about the same number of non-teaching staff as contract employees. This army of teachers and employees is quite vulnerable and insecure, and therefore do not respond to their organisations’ call in most cases.


In this scenario, the present administration of the University of Delhi, with the support of those elected representatives of teachers who owe allegiance to the Congress party ruling at the centre and in the state, roped in those who belong to the principal opposition at both levels (BJP) and the like who favour the same pro-American education policy. With this strength, the present vice chancellor came up with a four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) in the Academic Council on December 24, 2012. On March 5, 2013, the departments were asked to frame the new courses and given 15 days’ time. However, within two months, all the courses in new system were drafted and passed by the authoritative bodies. In the Academic Council meetings, including that held on May 27, 2013, those who had differing opinions were humiliated and threatened.


The FYUP, which is sought to be implemented in place of the three-year degree programmes from the coming academic session, i.e. July 2013, is at variance with the national policy which lays down a 10+2+3 system from school to higher education. Thus while students elsewhere will get an Honours degree in three years, the students of Delhi University will have to do an extra year. This will not only put them one year behind other students but also significantly raise the cost of education for most students from the middle class and poorer backgrounds. It is estimated that students coming from outside Delhi will have to bear an additional expense Rs one to one and a half lakh for one additional year. The extra year is also likely to put students from other universities at a disadvantage while applying for postgraduate programmes at Delhi University.




No reasons for such a major change have been given except that the students would be more employable. The HRD minister of state, Shashi Throor, while appreciating the FYUP, has said that it was in line with the system that exists in the USA and that after doing this course the students could easily get enrolled in American universities.


According to the official statistics of the USA, 100,270 Indian students (including NRIs living in other countries) went to the USA in 2011-12 which amounted to less than 0.6 per cent of the present student enrolment in higher education institutions in India (1,69,75,000). About 65 per cent of these students went to the USA on the strength of their personal and family funds. That is, they belong to the elite families in India. About 23 per cent students went on US college and university scholarships and the rest went there on the basis of home government funding or current employment in USA, etc. These people, in any case, will go to the USA or elsewhere for higher education and one cannot stop them.


According to the twelfth plan proposal, four year undergraduate programmes would be promoted during the plan period. After the FYUP is implemented in Delhi University, other universities will be forced to follow suit, as it happened in the case of semester system. The minister has to explain why his government wants to force 99.4 per cent of our students to spend one more year for an Honours degree which is hitherto available in three years. The UPA government is clearly out to make our education system suitable for predatory American educational institutions. 


However, for the so called ‘employability,’ every student, irrespective of what discipline one chooses, will have to do eleven compulsory foundation courses. These are language, literature, and creativity–I (Hindi/MIL); language, literature, and creativity–II (English); information technology; business, entrepreneurship and management; governance and citizenship; philosophy, psychology, communication and life skills; geographic and socio-economic diversity; science and life; Indian history and culture; building mathematical ability; and environment and public health. Apart from these, all students have to do two semester courses on integrating the mind, body and heart. No one has explained as to how such general school level courses are going to increase employability.


Any change at the undergraduate level has to be in harmony with school education. After class X, all students have to choose one out of the three streams --- science, arts and commerce. Thus the students of one stream do not study the courses of other streams. It is completely irrational to force all students to study even those courses which they had left after their class X. This provision will become a barrier for students and affect them severely. These courses amount to more than one-fourth of the total number of courses in four years that a student has to study. It s for these unnecessary courses that one more year is being added.




Students and teachers have expressed concerns about the multiple exit points leading to three different diplomas or degrees, the rigid structure and the syllabi that have been hurriedly prepared to fit into it. Even at the existing rate, one extra year in an alien expensive city will mean cutting the access to higher education for many. The rate of dropouts will increase as we will be legitimising it. The multiple exit points (at two, three and four years) will ensure that only the privileged (not only socially but economically also) would reach the last stage of getting an Honours degree while students from marginalised and underprivileged backgrounds will be forced to exit with a lower degree. Women students from economically backward backgrounds, SC, ST, and OBC students and those from rural backgrounds will be most affected. This will create more inequalities, instead of addressing the issues of social justice.


No provision has been made for additional infrastructure or teaching posts for the extra year. More than 4000 teaching posts are already lying vacant and are not being filled up despite strong protests by teachers. The shift to the four-year programme without ensuring these essential requirements will be an irresponsible move.


Serious concerns have been expressed about the harmful consequences of rushing through such a far-reaching structural change without wider debate and consultation and without taking on board the teachers who are legitimately concerned about the dilution of quality. All appeals to the vice chancellor have evidently had no effect. Instead, statutory bodies of the university have been deprived of the possibilities of discharging their responsibilities in any reasonable manner.


The Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), along with other Left and democratic groups as well as sections of teachers and students, carried the campaign against the FYUP. A “Save DU Campaign” was launched. Under its banner, several action programmes like dharnas, demonstrations and meetings with the students and parents were organised. Leaders and MPs of various political partiers, including the CPI(M), CPI, AIFB, RSP, AIDMK, TDP, RJD, NCP and LJP, and also the Congress and the BJP, were approached and apprised of the serious consequences of FYUP. Their intervention was sought to approach the appropriate authorities so that its implementation was stopped till such time its consequences and necessity was properly debated and considered.


The “Save DU Campaign” reached out to people at large in the city. Teachers and students went to several metro stations and local residential areas and distributed leaflets explaining as to how the FYUP was against the interests of students and parents. They collected signatures on a memorandum addressed to the prime minister, seeking his intervention. Print and electronic media also covered the views of the “Save DU Campaign.” Many authors, columnists, jurists and civil society activists – left, right and centre – wrote against the FYUP and against the hurry with which it was being pushed.




It was in this background that several delegations of teachers and senior academics met the HRD minister and wrote to the prime minister. Several MPs wrote to the prime minister, seeking his intervention. Sitaram Yechury, MP and a member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, raised the matter in Rajya Sabha. He led a delegation of MPs to the prime minister with a memorandum, signed by 37 MPs, seeking his intervention in the matter. Sitaram Yechury also met the president of India in his capacity as the visitor of the university and submitted a memorandum. Both the president and prime minister wondered why the FYUP should be pushed so hurriedly.


A Joint Action Front for Democratic Education (SC/ST/OBC/Left) was also formed which, while opposing the FYUP, explained as to how students belonging to the SC, ST, OBC and other weaker sections would suffer. It organised a protest action in front of the residence of UPA chairperson and submitted a memorandum. It organised a convention, and a candle light programme at India Gate that ended in the detention of all protesters by the police for some time.


The ministry of HRD took the position that Delhi University was an autonomous institution and that the ministry would not intervene. But autonomy cannot be without accountability. The prime minister, as usual, maintained his silence. The president, in his capacity as the visitor, has the authority to intervene in order to stop the university from being pushed towards chaos and academic disaster which will affect the lives of thousands of students. He has the right to annul any proceeding of the university which is not in conformity with this act, the statutes or the ordinances. He can disallow any ordinance or order the suspension of operation of any ordinance. But he too did not act.


Pushing the FYUP in Delhi University will make easier the implementation of the twelfth plan which proposes low costs for expansion of enrolment, contractual faculty, permission to private investors to make profits, making the courses suited to the market, restructuring the undergraduate courses in accordance with the American model, and charging high fees from students. All these proposals are for the commercialisation of higher education, leading to private profits with public funding. Thus the FYUP is patently anti-student and anti-people. The “Save DU Campaign” and others are doing their best to get the FYUP scrapped even now.


We are likely to witness Delhi University, quite soon, not like what we have been seeing it for more than four decades --- catering to the needs of people at large from all over the country. What we are now going to witness will be a Delhi University in the new role as the leader of commercialisation of higher education. This would mean the virtual death of this premier university of the country.