The teachers of the Delhi University (DU) criticised the Union Grant Commission’s (UGC) move to constitute a working group to study the Delhi University Act, 1922, and explore possible alterations that may dissolve the university’s institutional autonomy and suspend the democratic rights of its academic community.
At the behest of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) specifically, the UGC committee has been asked to consider bringing exams/ teaching/ learning/ evaluation under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), said teachers of the DU.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) called it as “vicious attack on the academic community’s intellectual autonomy” arguing it is the violation of its moral prerogative to nurture free thinking and democratic values.
This comes immediately after the UGC’s directive to all central universities to adopt CCS rules for teachers. “To try and bring university teachers under ESMA is a draconian and foolish move as teachers are not mere service providers. Teachers are creators and disseminators of knowledge and informed opinion,” said DUTA president Prof Rajib Ray.
Academics for Action and Development chairperson and former DUTA president Dr Aditya Narayan Misra termed bringing DU under ESMA is a “hurried prelude to the larger design of higher education by pulling down the strong edifice of the University of Delhi”, saying that ESMA is it’s lethal tool for which the working group will submit a report within 30 days that is by November 3.
According to Prof Ray, the government’s move to curb the democratic rights of teachers through ESMA and CCS indicates “desperation and nervousness” about introducing changes that cannot stand up to academic scrutiny.