ANI Photo | Delhi University’s economics faculty opposes bid to drop three elective papers

Delhi University’s Economics faculty members from several colleges have opposed a suggestion in the Academic Council (AC) meeting to drop three elective papers — ‘Economy, State and Society’, ‘Production Relations and Globalisation’, and ‘Economics of Discrimination’ — in the undergraduate programme.
In a letter to Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Singh, the faculty members have requested to retain them.
Speaking to ANI, DU Vice Chancellor Yogesh Singh said, “This matter came in the Academic Council for discussions. Few members have different views about the whole subject. They say now three papers which are elective papers, our economy, state and society, production relations and globalization and the third is economies of discrimination. All three are elective papers. But some of the members have very different views about the whole concept. They say, many parts of the curriculum are common, some are redundant, while some are not required. But these were the views of some of the honourable members.”
“But since the academic council has 110 members body, I recommended constituting an expert committee to look into the whole issue. So whether the three papers are really important or not, I don’t know. But, the committee will look into the whole subject,” he added.
The VC further said that “after 75 years of independence, we should energize new thought processes in the economy as for becoming a developed nation by 2047, we need economic growth of 8-9 per cent for the next 20-25 years”.
“We are the fifth largest economy in the world. We have four good examples and we should study the good practices of those economies also like the USA, China, Japan and Germany. So there should be paper so that our students know the ins and out about those economies also, they will be able to compare and find good things from there that will help give Indian economy,” he said.
Singh added, “This was one aspect and the second aspect was BR Ambedkar’s views about the economy. He was a great economist. He was a student of economics also. And he has certain views about economics. So, we should develop a paper on the economic thoughts of Ambedkar and they are very relevant in my opinion in the 21st century. Second Mahatama Gandhi. They are two-star performers of India and have some views on the economy.”
He said that the six papers are very important either in the form of six or four papers because the education, training, mindset and thought process of the students is very important.
“Let us wait for the report of the committee and then that report will be placed in the meeting of the Standing Committee on academic affairs of the academic council on 14th June and after the recommendation of that matter will be placed in the academic council of the University, he further said,” the VC added.
Director of South Campus and standing committee member Shriprakash Singh, in a telephonic conversation with ANI, said, “‘In academic council, questions were raised by some of the honourable members regarding the similarity of the content and usefulness of certain papers a committee was constituted consisting of top professors in the department in convener ship of myself that is Director South Campus. All these professors went on reviewing the papers and suggested that these papers may be dropped and a new paper of political economy may be introduced.”
He said that the executive council suggested the committee to review a few success stories in world economics and make it a part of the curriculum.
“We have already requested committee members to re-depute a council, to sit again and there are certain success stories of success economists which must be part of the syllabus. This was the intent of the executive council to the economics department. It’s regular exercise. Every three years, things are reviewed, re-examined and if needed we change,” he said.
Singh added, “The committee constituted by honourable VC to examine this issue whether this needs to be dropped or not. In that meeting, they reached to the conclusion that it can be dropped out and they suggested a paper that may be accepted, but the university administration went on requesting the committee again to sit and revisit and include some success stories.”
Nandini Dutta, associate professor at Miranda House and member of the Department of Economics syllabus sub-committee, said, “There are these three papers that need a review because they feel that these are repetitive papers and the content is almost similar which we (those who have created these papers) know for sure that they are not the same papers and they are the papers of huge relevance.”
“I am one of the signatories in the letter which has been sent to the VC. The reason why we wrote the letter is to say that amongst these three papers, the first one was already approved at an earlier AC meeting. It is strange that now, in the last AC meeting which was held on May 26, they have even brought this particular paper, clubbed it with other two papers which are completely new papers and designed specifically for the syllabus revision of NEP 2020, and then they have said that these three papers have overlapping content,” she said.
Dutta added, “They are hugely oriented towards different forms of teaching pedagogy. So they want to examine it and they have set up a committee who is going to look at these papers and review them. Although all these papers have gone through with due diligence that was needed and it has been argued and discussed within the department’s syllabus revision committee which we were part of.”
Questioning why such paper needs to be put under scanner, Dutta said, “The AC in its first meeting approved the economic state in society and in the last meeting they said this needs a rethought. I don’t understand why a paper like this should even be brought under the scanner because these are the papers that are extremely relevant, new, novel ways of looking at the entire classical economics that takes capitalism as a given and do not understand that there are differences among the stakeholders and their voice matters. So, it is a very relevant paper. I don’t understand why it should be a problem.”
In a telephonic conversation, Saumyajit Bhattacharya, an associate professor at Kirori Mal College, who is also a signatory to the letter and has played an active part in curating the Economics syllabus said, “The decision taken in the AC meeting is to form a committee to review the overlapping process on the economics curriculum (no course was mentioned) and also to expand on ideas about the development of the developed country in the curriculum”.
He said that the committee essentially picked up only three courses and made certain recommendations to the executive council and later it was heard from the press report that the committee decided to drop altogether the economics of discrimination course and have merged the other two courses.
“Of these three courses, there are no overlaps. Not only with each other but also with any other course in the economics curriculum. This is a very crucial course that any economic program should have. The second course has nothing to do with the first course. It is also surprising that the VC himself is saying that there should be a course on Ambedkar, but actually, a course on discrimination which includes writing of Ambedkar is actually thrown out,” he said.
Bhattacharya added, “It is shocking. The idea to merge two courses is pure insanity. They are totally different courses. It wouldn’t make any sense. We are extremely disturbed and bewildered. Somebody should show us and tell us where is the overlap. I don’t know how and in what mind, the committee has done this. I am extremely surprised, shocked and bewildered that this is happening.” (ANI)

This report is filed by ANI news service.

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