Naked is the emperor
Why is the Delhi University vice-chancellor hell-bent on destroying this prestigious academic centre of learning?
Ratna Raman Delhi
We were ushered into the Academic Council Room inside the Viceregal Lodge in Delhi University (DU) and found seats around a wooden conference table. Vice-Chancellor (VC) Dinesh Singh and his team introduced themselves to a group of teachers of English from various DU colleges. We had all assembled there as this was an opportunity to hear what the VC had to say. Since assuming office, this former colleague with whom I share an alma mater had become a man of very few words. While he eloquently spoke of university affairs to everyone who had little to do with the university, he didn’t seem to be on talking terms with any of the real universitywallahs, over whose professional and academic lives he had gained absolute power.
He didn’t seem to believe in the need for discussion and debate. He issued orders, refused to meet elected representatives, facilitated the serving of show-cause notices on teachers in university departments who dared to disagree with his diktat, dismissed the Delhi University Teachers’ Union (DUTA), a collective of teachers from DU and its affiliated colleges, as an illegal body, and issued statements to the press much in the manner of a media moghul.
Subsequently, he hosted academic congresses where the criteria for admission and participation was the absence of any academic connection whatsoever to the university, particularly in its everyday life. He frowned at marches, scoffed at rallies, sniggered at hunger strikes, policed protests, and denied in thought, word, deed, and spirit the need for any dialogic space within the university.
Our vice-chancellor, while addressing audiences, exalts the work space as the karma bhoomi and calls upon everyone to do their share of work. Now, work is by itself a good thing and, as his current office requires him to be in station, possibly the VC is now living up to his karma. However, as the head of India’s premier central university, he is responsible for the futures of lakhs of students and for the well-being of countless teachers and karamcharis who have given their life-blood to the institutions they work in. Surely, he is not motivated by nishtha (faith) and dhrithi (resolution) to uphold satyam (truth). If only he had bowed to this dharma, ordained by our university logo, he would have done the right thing in a timely manner.
This is particularly unfortunate as the current incumbent of the erstwhile Viceregal lodge drew his adult sustenance from Delhi University, first as a student and then as a teacher. His predecessor owed nothing to the university and arguably felt little obligation to nurture an older heritage, as he set into motion the systemic violation of due procedure, disregard of statutorily elected bodies and disrespect for collective college staff councils.
The former VC’s administrative dictates worked around a top-driven timetable wherein academic standards and safeguards were not factored. Teachers in undergraduate colleges protested and were supported by their departments. They were declared lazy, self-serving and hostile to change.