API and our scholars

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There has been a growing frequency of academic assemblages taking place in our colleges and universities.  This perhaps might be an indication that the academic communities are engaged with some very serious works. Seminars and conferences are imperatives in education, more importantly in higher education. These assemblages are the meeting point where ideas could grow. In fact ideas make the world. Ideas are our guide to the future. The pooling of ideas – even the flimsiest idea entrenched in prejudice is believed to have space in this kind of gathering. Here ideas are subjected to go through layers of examinations for it to become the stencils of our thought and action. Idea provides a vantage point to test the relevancy of facts. It is the chief responsibility of the academia to gather facts and connect it into idea for debate and discussion. The one who is going to present the paper in a seminar bears that obligation. Seminars either in universities or colleges, in this part of the world, are often full of avoidable ceremonies. Needless to mention that it has become part of our identity to report late for any event: the guest, the dignitaries including the learned scholars would arrive late. Precious time will again be devoted to lighting up the ceremonial lamps, decorating the chest of the guest with colourful badge, followed by longer hours of speeches till everyone gets ready for lunch. We believe the ceremonial lamps are not the sacred flame of intellectualism. These are similes which can be avoided. By the time when we have the basic sense of reporting in time at a seminar or conference prevails, the ceremonies can be recalled back. Besides the ceremonial hiccups, a virus seems to have crept in among the academia.  API: Academic Performance Indicator, which was introduced by UGC, seems to have become too mechanical instead of serving its ideal of pushing the academic rigour forward. It is said that scholars have become sluggish who pays more attention to their API then the work they produce in seminars. Or in other words, careerism has blunted their weapon of critical inquiries. By saying this we do not mean to put them into the altar of disgrace. It is quite natural for any individual to work towards a goal. But it becomes problematic when their primary obligation of engaging in critical debate is thwarted just for picking API marks. Any academic paper which have title such as ‘a comparative study of’ or ‘problem and prospect’, for that matter the theme could be same ‘problem and prospect’. The paper reader would begin with an excuse that he had been busy with so many works therefore any lack in the paper should be excused. If he had been at all busy than he should remain busy instead of presenting a shoddy paper.  With due respect to their learning, we would appeal to these kind of scholars to stop building a comfortable room for itself by surrendering their obligation with no mental labour. The act of critical inquiry is often ‘casualised’ for the sake of API.  Moreover what could be more dangerous in the academia are the ‘free-floating’ scholars who are deracinated thinkers, mediated only by facts. They are happy to be in the garb of intellectuals. Intellectual exercise or academic gathering according to Gramsci, he termed it as the ‘ensemble of social relations’ in which activities of certain values takes place and produces certain effects. Because the work intellectuals do is connected not to the production of goods and services, but to the circulation of ideas and culture. The function of the intellectual is primarily ideological. We however do acknowledge the fact that there are serious scholars who shine from the rest. API should not let them swallow too.   

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