Friday, May 11, 2012

DU's plans for a meta-university: A counterview

A quick follow-up to this post on Delhi University's plans for offering a variety of new programs, including one -- the meta-university -- which will allow its students to earn a degree with course credits from several Delhi-based universities and colleges. In that post, I wondered how these plans are perceived by folks at DU itself.

In the comments section, Vishu points us to this opinion piece by Shobhit Mahajan, a professor of physics and astrophysics at DU.

I am intrigued by Prof. Mahajan's rhetorical choice: he leads off with complaints about implementation details, burying a far more important issue in the article's second half:

It is a truism that in most social systems, whether in business or politics, a buy-in of all stakeholders is an essential prerequisite for any fundamental and lasting change. And the buy-in occurs through a consultative, inclusive process whereby the stakeholders are consulted and persuaded. Unfortunately, none of this has been visible in DU in recent years.

The utter disdain with which the DU administration treats the views of the students and the faculty, and the manner in which it rides over statutory provisions is shocking.

The pattern is by now familiar: the VC announces to the media a new initiative. A coterie of teachers and administrators hurriedly fleshes out the proposals. These proposals are then rammed through the statutory bodies if needed, or implemented using the infamous emergency powers of the VC. The course on 'innovation engineering' is a good example. In its rush to prepare the blueprint, the VC's coterie plagiarised the course and other details from a foreign university website. So much for intellectual honesty and creativity!