Saturday, June 15, 2013

FYUP Discussion.....

the DU programmes are quite mediocre, for instance please read the article by Thane Richard that appeared in the Hindu which I forwarded. The primary reason of course is that the faculty, I am very sorry to say, are in the large, mediocre (so much for the 'merit' argument of the 'upper' castes - DU faculty are in the large very 'upper' caste, and they are in the large very mediocre!). Students learn very little. In a globalised world, it is important that students acquire a working knowledge of their subject. For Dalit students, this is even more important because it will be a potent weapon to fight caste discrimination, and also for self-esteem. Ambedkar was so effective because he was superbly competent. To acquire such a working knowledge in engineering and in medicine, programmes in India, like much of the world, are 4 years long, or even 5. Why is it assumed that subjects such as history and sociology and mathematics and biology can do with 3? In my experience of many years of teaching in India, students are ill prepared after 3 years of a BA or BSc programme to be able to do anything useful. In many countries 4 years is indeed the norm. An honours programme is not for every student, but for the more scholarly ones, especially those who plan to do a Ph.D. and join academia. We need Dalit faculy in large numbers in academia, so it is very important that such students prepare themselves well so that they can go to the US or to Europe for a Ph.D. Hopefully, the proposed 4 year honours programme at DU will better prepare students than the existing 3 year one. Besides, as Tharoor points out (and I hate to be quoting this man), students can finish with 3 years as they have been all these years. Just like students get first class and second class in a BA programme, or some number indicating grade point average, the honours programme is like a super-first class. The above is about the quality of the programme. The hope is 4 years will have students better prepared. Now for the issue of discrimination: this must be fought just like the discrimination that already exists in 3 year programmes. How will objecting to a 4 year programme remove the discrimination that in fact already exists? We must go about fighting discrimination in a serious and structured way. Apart from legal address, which is often time consuming, we must form mentor groups to help Dalit students in many ways: help them settle down in Delhi and in DU, help them focus on their studies by providing a place where students can collectively study, run spoken English classes etc. etc. Insight Foundation already does some of this, such efforts should be strengthened and replicated in every university. Finally, we must celebrate the fact that SC/ST/OBC students are doing better and better with each passing year, in spite of the tremendous hostility in the system (this hostility will finally decrease when there are enough SC/ST/OBC faculty). At CMI where I work, the highest marks in the entrance exam for the Ph.D. programme this year was obtained by an OBC student. At IIT Bombay, I understand that now there are large numbers of students from the Meena caste. Not long ago, the Meenas were educatonally backward, being ST, but now they are emerging as one of the most highly educated. I can go on in this fashion, but I fear we keep talking at cross purposes. The article in the Hindu that you forwarded, how does it prove any point except to repeat statements which not I, nor any of the people I have talked to, agree with? Best wishes. I must get back to work, to improve myself! Copied and Pasted from

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