Letter to VC re EC meeting on 23.6.2014

Prof. Dinesh Singh,
Vice-Chancellor & Chairperson of the Executive Council,
University of Delhi.

Dear Prof. Singh,

I express my regret that I will not be able to attend the meeting of the Executive Council scheduled for 23.6.2014 since I have undergone a surgery on 20.6.2004 and am still in hospital. Despite my eagerness to be part of the meeting at this time given the gravity of the issues facing the University of Delhi, I am not in a position to play that part.

I had written a letter to you on 19.6.2004 requesting you among other things to remove certain items from the agenda for inappropriately presuming recommendations that the Academic Council scheduled for 21.6.2014 might give to the Executive Council.

I believe that some of those presumed recommendations have not been made by the Academic Council. I wish to repeat my request not to entertain any of the presumed items on the agenda. It will go some way in restoring the dignity and independence of the statutory bodies of the University.

I have learnt of the UGC order dated 20.6.2014 (a) to admit students this year and the subsequent years to the three year undergraduate structure that existed before the introduction of FYUP and  (b) to make appropriate arrangements so that students already admitted in FYUP do not lose a year. I have also learnt that the Academic Council has passed a resolution by majority seeking reconsideration of the order.

My submission to you is that in deference to the fact that the FYUP does constitute a deviation from the pattern of education established in the country following adoption of national policy of 10+2+3 and given the fact that both the Academic Council and the Executive Council have so far failed to take up the responsibility of harmonising our system with the countrywide pattern – a task that we should have done before putting in place restructured programme – it will be in the interest of students who are waiting for admission this year and those who were admitted last year that we go back to the three year programme that existed before the introduction of FYUP. Any further stand-off or delay should at all cost be avoided. My submission is based on (a) my agreement with the reasons cited in the order, (b) the severe academic shortcomings of the FYUP which I had made known earlier and (c) the substantive procedural infirmities which have marred the decision making process in the Executive Council. I wish to draw your attention to some of those infirmities which are substantive enough to repeal the Ordinances related to FYUP:

  1. On 26.12.2012, the Executive Council approved the recommendations of the Academic Council of its meeting held on 24.12.2012 to add to Ordinance V.1 three new degrees such as Baccalaureate etc. The recommendations were not and could not have been circulated at least seven days in advance for application of mind in violation of the Regulations mandated under Section 32(2) of the DU Act.

  2. On 26.12.2012, the Executive Council, without having the time required for due application of mind, called upon teachers to frame courses in accordance with some structure of a four year programme that the Academic Council had approved. It also called upon teachers to do so within the time span that the Vice-Chancellor might decide, ignoring the fact that any estimation of time required to frame courses is also an academic job and the Academic Council and not the Vice-Chancellor would have been the appropriate agency in that regard.

  3. On 9 May 2013, the Executive Council amended the above-mentioned addition to Ordinance V.1 on the recommendations of the Academic Council in its meeting held on 7-8 May 2013. The same violation was repeated.

  4. In a further substantive failure in discharging its duty, the Executive Council, instead of ensuring that the degrees in question were specified by the UGC under Section 22 of the UGC Act, noted that “However, the Vice Chancellor categorically stated that the degree in the respective discipline shall be in accordance with nomenclature specified by the UGC under section 22 of the UGC Act.”

  5. On 9 May 2013, the Executive Council approved a large number of draft Ordinances emanating from the 7-8 May 2013 meeting of the Academic Council relating to courses of study under the FYUP. Just the magnitude and intricacies of the draft Ordinances could have not have been appreciated by members and yet approval was acquired for the Ordinances, most of which were placed on the table during the meeting.

  6. Such systematic denial of minimal time is not only violative of the regulations mandated by Section 32(2), it also amounts to a failure to carry out the responsibility entrusted by the Delhi University Act vide Sections 7, 29 and 31 etc. Unfortunately, my pointing out of these substantive infirmities went unanswered and was merely filed as notes of dissent.

  7. The most serious violation of the Delhi University Act or indeed of known provisions for decision making by any authority or statutory body happened on 9 May 2013 and 7 June 2013. On both these days, a large number of courses of study were approved to be set out in Appendix II to Ordinance V.2 by the Executive Council without the members of the Executive Council having been provided those courses of study as recommended by the Academic Council. Such decisions would be considered arbitrary and void in most institutions and are in gross violation of Section 31 of the Act that grants the Executive Council the powers to reject or return, with or without suggested amendments, draft Ordinances recommended to it by the Academic Council.

  8. While the Executive Council which has exclusive powers under the Act to make, repeal or amend any Ordinance was not shown the courses of study and was made to approve, the meeting of the Court held on 28 August 2013 was provided the courses of study as Appendix II to Ordinance V.2.

  9. A perusal of the agenda and minutes of the Executive Council meetings and the Court bear out the following:

    • a) The Executive Council was told to approve DC-I, DC-II, AC courses of subjects specified in a list that started with Anthropology and ended with Zoology. This can be verified by the minutes of the meetings of the Executive Council held on the above-mentioned dates.
    • b) The agenda for the meeting of the University Court on 28 August 2013 included the Amendments to Ordinances and Appendices to Ordinances apparently effected by the Executive Council under Section 31 of the Act. It laid out the number of papers that, for example, DC-I courses offered for Anthropology is to have as well as the titles of those papers and the sequence in which these variously titled papers will be taught. It shows that the Chairperson by the Executive Council was aware of what constitute Ordinances prescribing courses of study but did not provide the draft to the Executive Council while convening its meeting acquiring its approval.
    • c) The course of study of any discipline for a degree offered by the University consists of a coherent whole: titles of papers indicating the broad area of the discipline to be studies under each paper and the sequence in which these papers are to be studied. The courses of study are to be prescribed by Ordinances vide Section 7(4) of the Act, the syllabi of papers are prescribed by Regulations vide Section 7(1).
    • d) Even what was passed on to the Executive Council as draft Ordinances mentioned “Replace the existing semester based syllabi/schemes of examinations of the following courses with the revised semester based syllabi/schemes of examinations under the Four Year Undergraduate Programme: Anthroplogy (DC I, DC II, AC), …….., Zoology (DC I, DC II, AC), ,” etc.
    • e) Apart from not providing the courses of study, the language of the draft Ordinances is invalid. Syllabi are not prescribed by Ordinances but by Regulations.
    • f) Even the syllabi, from which courses of study could have been deciphered and examined, were not provided.
  10. The Executive Council has also failed to take stock of infrastructural and teacher requirement for the 33% increase in number of students in each college nor has it asked the Academic Council to provide any input in this regard before approving the Ordinances. It will result in undesirable compromises with pedagogy and quality.

  11. This failure has already led to the university administration without consultations with the Academic Council restrict choices of papers in DC-II that a student can choose after having admitted them with the promise that they are free to choose any DC-II. The same logic will be extended to AC courses too. The claim that was made about choice and flexibility has been belied.

  12. In the light of the above substantive violations and deficiencies which have vitiated decision making leading to hasty introduction of FYUP, it is only appropriate that we accepted the failure and discontinued FYUP in the interest of students. We should devote time and attention to the task of speedily reworking the admission process.

I am opposed to any position and resolution seeking continuation of the FYUP or any position that prolongs the uncertainties facing large number of students desirous of studying in the University of Delhi.

With regards,

Abha Dev Habib
Member, Executive Council

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