Press Release – North-East Forum For International Solidarity

1311

NORTH-EAST FORUM FOR INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

Email id: [email protected] Contact phone number: 7838983871
Correspondence address: 7/24 Double Story Vijay Nagar, Delhi-110007

17.05.2013
PRESS RELEASE
In the wake of the proposed reforms in Delhi University North-East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS) had launched a campaign to protest against the forceful imposition of Hindi on the students from the north-east. After a series of protests culminating in a massive demonstration outside the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), the University administration seemed to buckle to pressure and gave us in writing that Hindi would not be made compulsory for those students from the north-east who are not comfortable with it. However, to our shock, the syllabus that was passes and finalized by the University last week has no mention of the exemption for the north-east students!

As the present four year ‘reforms’ came under severe criticism from several quarters, we too analyzed it closely and reached the conclusion that such changes, as are going to be introduced from next year are harmful to the interests of the students from the north-east in multifarious ways:

1. It has come to our notice that the new course structure has a provision for multiple exit points meaning that students can exit out of the 4 year long bachelor’s course at multiple stages. A student who drops out after the 2nd year would be given a Diploma degree, a third year drop-out Baccalaureate degree and the students who complete all four years of education would be given Baccalaureate with Honours/B.tech. degree in their respective subjects. In our opinion these provisions would prove extremely harmful to the interests of the students from the north-east, the majority of which belong to the ST and OBC categories. The system of multiple exit points would sabotage the reservations granted to ST and OBC students in the higher education. Because the students belonging to the above categories belong to the weaker, vulnerable and marginalized sections they are most likely to be forced to drop-out/flunk mid-way through the Honours course. This means that though admissions would be granted through reservation at the beginning of the Honours course, at the end of three years far fewer students from the reserved category would still remain in the course. In effect, this step would translate into shrinking of reservations for the full Honours.

2. The system of multiple exit points might seem like a flexible step to some, in favour of those students who are forced to drop out due to financial or other constraints. It is being argued that let the students who drop out have some degree at least instead of the present system in which students either get a full Honours degree or nothing at all. But we the students from the north-east who travel so far to study at Delhi University strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. Most of us live under precarious financial conditions and we are the ones who are most likely to be forced to drop out. For very long, through protests and memorandums we have been demanding the government of India to take adequate steps to ensure that students from the north-east are not forced to drop out for want of financial support but no steps whatsoever were taken to address our concerns. Now, finally when these misguided ‘reforms’ are taking place, the University, instead of addressing the root cause of dropping-out of students, which is mainly financial constraints, is systematizing the system of dropping out ! The state cannot shirk its responsibility of ensuring universal access to education, particularly to the students from the north-east who already suffer from a lag. However in the present case, the government seems to be facilitating dropping-out of the students.

3. We oppose the four year course for bachelor’s degree because it adds an additional year to the degree that could be attained earlier in three years without adding anything substantial in the curriculum. This means an extra year of financial burden which would hit the students from the north-east the most. We already suffer due to shooting room rents, inflating food costs, addition of one extra year for the honours course would force many of us to drop out mid-way.

4. Post Independence our education system has been developed by the Indian State in an uneven manner resulting in the fact that today we have a highly graded University system. There exist numerous mediocre –to- poor universities and a handful of elite universities. As a result every year students from the north-east are forced to migrate en masse to one of the bigger cities of India to pursue quality education at the elite Universities resulting in the wastage of hundreds of millions of their parents’ hard earned money. We have been demanding a thorough overhaul of the University system to lessen the gap between mediocre regional and metropolitan elite Universities so that the compulsion to migrate for quality education may end. For very long this drawback in our university system was silently ignored and the thought of reform did not cross the minds of our ruling elite, but now, when finally ‘reforms’ are being carried out, we are alarmed to see that its objective seems to be to further worsen the gap between the quality of education at the regional and elite universities. Such a step would completely undermine the limited credibility of the local universities and further induce students to migrate.

We are not averse to change, in fact for years the students from the north-east have been demanding changes in the Indian University system to ensure that the students from the north-east are able to avail of more opportunities. Accept for some token measures no significant steps were taken to address our concerns by the Indian State. Now finally when the ‘reforms’ have begun in the Delhi University, we have observed that its purpose is not to ameliorate our condition, far from it, its orientation is such that it will make our plight of the worse. Educational reforms and well being are non-negotiable because this is the only channel through which we can enter the modern job market. At a time when our traditional occupations are fast dwindling due to the appropriation of our lands and resources for corporate interests, entry into the modern economy is the only way we can escape pauperization. However such reforms as the present one threaten to make our entry into the university system extremely difficult and force us to oppose. Today we submitted a memorandum to the prime minister’s office urging upon his office to scrap the present set of reforms and take adequate steps to initiate new reforms from the perspective of the marginalized sections like the students from the north-east, failing which we would be forced to adopt the course of democratic agitation.

Yours sincerely,

Chinglen Khumukcham
Thanglunmang Khongsai

NEFIS (North-East Forum for International Solidarity)

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NORTH-EAST FORUM FOR INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY – Memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister demanding him to intervene and take adequate steps to address our concern.

Email id: [email protected] Contact phone number: 7838983871
Correspondence address:7/24 Double Story Vijay Nagar, Delhi-110007

To, Date: 17.5.2013
Dr. Manmohan Singh,
The Prime Minister
Prime Minister Office,
South Block,
New Delhi.
Memorandum
Subject- Harmful impact of Delhi University’s new four year course on the students from the North-East

Respected Sir,
We are submitting this memorandum to register our deeply felt sense of resentment against the new course structure that is to be introduced by Delhi University next academic year onward. Our observation is that the new course structure is designed in a manner that would bring harm to the interests of the students from the ‘north-east in multiple ways. We are not averse to the idea of reforms but in our opinion the objective of reforms should be to ameliorate the conditions of the marginal sections of the society and never vice-versa. Earlier NEFIS had initiated a campaign against the compulsory imposition of Hindi on the students from the ‘north-east’ within the new course structure. As a part of this campaign we submitted memorandums and organized several protest demonstrations, culminating in the protest demonstration at the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) on 5.4.2013. The ministry had given us its assurance that not just the language clause but any other aspect of the proposed set of reforms that goes against the interests of the students from the ‘north-east’ would be scrapped. Following this the University administration had given a written assurance that Hindi would not be imposed, however to our shock, we noticed that in the new syllabus passed and finalized by the University last week, Hindi is still compulsory as a foundation course! Meanwhile, as the reforms were being critiqued from several quarters, we too analysed them and we have reached the conclusion that these entire set of reforms go against the interests of the students from the north-east in multifarious ways. Below we have listed in a schematic manner our objections to the current set of “reforms” being introduced in Delhi University.

1. It has come to our notice that the new course structure has a provision for multiple exit points meaning that students can exit out of the 4 year long bachelor’s course at multiple stages. A student who drops out after the 2nd year would be given a Diploma degree, a third year drop-out Baccalaureate degree and the students who complete all four years of education would be given Baccalaureate with Honours/B.tech. degree in their respective subjects. In our opinion these provisions would prove extremely harmful to the interests of the students from the north-east, the majority of which belong to the SC/ST and OBC categories. The system of multiple exit points would sabotage the reservations granted to SC/ST and OBC students in the higher education. Because the students belonging to the above categories belong to the weaker, vulnerable and marginalized sections they are most likely to be forced to drop-out/flunk mid-way through the Honours course. This means that though admissions would be granted through reservation at the beginning of the Honours course, at the end of three years far fewer students from the reserved category would still remain in the course. In effect, this step would translate into shrinking of reservations for the full Honours.

2. The system of multiple exit points might seem like a flexible step to some, in favour of those students who are forced to drop out due to financial or other constraints. It is being argued that let the students who drop out have some degree at least instead of the present system in which students either get a full Honours degree or nothing at all. But we the students from the north-east who travel so far to study at Delhi University strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. Most of us live under precarious financial conditions and we are the ones who are most likely to be forced to drop out. For very long, through protests and memorandums we have been demanding the government of India to take adequate steps to ensure that students from the north-east are not forced to drop out for want of financial support but no steps whatsoever were taken to address our concerns. Now, finally when these misguided ‘reforms’ are taking place, the University, instead of addressing the root cause of dropping-out of students, which is mainly financial constraints, is systematizing the system of dropping out ! The state cannot shirk its responsibility of ensuring universal access to education, particularly to the students from the north-east who already suffer from a lag. However in the present case, the government seems to be facilitating dropping-out of the students.

3. We oppose the four year course for bachelor’s degree because it adds an additional year to the degree that could be attained earlier in three years without adding anything substantial in the curriculum. This means an extra year of financial burden which would hit the students from the north-east the most. We already suffer due to shooting room rents, inflating food costs, addition of one extra year for the honours course would force many of us to drop out mid-way..

4. We have also been demanding that special attention be paid by the University to the language problems faced by students coming from the north-east. Instead of paying heed to our needs the university has made a dastardly attempt to impose Hindi and MILs upon the students from the ‘north-east’ despite our protests.

5. Post Independence our education system has been developed by the Indian State in an uneven manner resulting in the fact that today we have a highly graded University system. There exist numerous mediocre –to- poor universities and a handful of elite universities. As a result every year students from the north-east are forced to migrate en masse to one of the bigger cities of India to pursue quality education at the elite Universities resulting in the wastage of hundreds of millions of their parents’ hard earned money. We have been demanding a thorough overhaul of the University system to lessen the gap between mediocre regional and metropolitan elite Universities so that the compulsion to migrate for quality education may end. For very long this drawback in our university system was silently ignored and the thought of reform did not cross the minds of our ruling elite, but now, when finally ‘reforms’ are being carried out, we are alarmed to see that its objective seems to be to further worsen the gap between the quality of education at the regional and elite universities. Such a step would completely undermine the limited credibility of the local universities and further induce students to migrate.

We are not averse to change, in fact for years the students from the north-east have been demanding changes in the Indian University system to ensure that the students from the north-east are able to avail of more opportunities. Accept for some token measures no significant steps were taken to address our concerns by the Indian State. Now finally when the ‘reforms’ have begun in the Delhi University, we have observed that its purpose is not to ameliorate our condition, far from it, its orientation is such that it will make our plight of the worse. Educational reforms and well being are non-negotiable because this is the only channel through which we can enter the modern job market. At a time when our traditional occupations are fast dwindling due to the appropriation of our lands and resources for corporate interests, entry into the modern economy is the only way we can escape pauperization. However such reforms as the present one threaten to make our entry into the university system extremely difficult and force us to oppose. Though this memorandum we urge upon your office to scrap the present set of reforms and take adequate steps to initiate new reforms from the perspective of the marginalized sections of the society like the students from the north-east, failing which we would be forced to adopt the course of democratic agitation.

Yours sincerely,

Chinglen Khumukcham
Thanglunmang Khongsai

NEFIS (North-East Forum for International Solidarity)

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