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Dissent suppressed in DU by ‘feudal, autocratic’ VC
Namita Nair & Indrani Dasgupta  NEW DELHI | 20th Apr 2013

elhi University vice chancellor Dinesh Singh is suppressing the democratic culture of the institution with his "feudal and autocratic" style of functioning, allege teachers and students. Suppressing dissent and monitoring protest movements have become a common practice under Dinesh Singh's tenure, they allege. There has been a significant increase in policing and CCTV cameras installed on campus. According to a source, dharnas and campaigns are even video-recorded by the administration. Participation of students in protests is being actively suppressed. During a recent demonstration by students demanding more hostels, their parents were called by the university. Teachers are also continuously monitored. The university has even resorted to denying monetary grants to those who defy the VC, said a professor who wished to remain anonymous.

The recent incident of the alleged manhandling of a senior professor at the Shri Ram College of Commerce allegedly by the Vice Chancellor's men was another serious issue. The professor, Sanjaya Kumar Bohidar, claimed that he had barely stood up when the VC's "bouncers" pushed him out of the auditorium. "The VC allowed the violence to happen," said Abha Dev Habib, elected member of the DU Executive Council. This is symptomatic of how the VC stifles any voice of dissent in the university, added Habib.

R.K. Singh, the co-convener of the Transformational Leadership Conference, however, denied the involvement of the VC's staff, adding that the professor was a member of the "left-oriented Democratic Teachers' Front" and had only an "anti-university political agenda of mindless opposition".

Raj Pal, president of the Delhi University & College Karamchari Union (DUCKU), told this newspaper, "There is a terror-like atmosphere here in DU. There is absolutely no space for dissent. Even our protests, about which we informed the authorities, were suppressed. They also cut our salaries for gazetted holidays such as 15 August, Janmashtami and Eid. If a registered union cannot express their discontent what else are we supposed to do?"

"If you want to bulldoze something within a stipulated time you stop people from asking questions. There are hardly any meetings held with the VC, so our apprehensions never get addressed," said Abha Dev Habib.

The ongoing protests at DU of teachers, students and the non-teaching staff have been against the large number of "reforms" that have been introduced in the system. The main cause of concern is that Dinesh Singh chooses to push forward the changes without a careful deliberation between bodies such as the Academic Council, which comprises the teaching staff, often jeopardising the quality of education.

The conversion of the coveted three-year honours programme in DU to a four-year degree undergraduate programme has been a source of controversy. The implementation of the new system was pushed by Singh, who formed a "Task Force" for this purpose. The task force was handpicked by the VC for their supposed "anti-left stance", said a source.

Teachers opined that the decision was taken by people who did not understand the nuances of various courses to structure an effective four-year degree programme. Many professors also believe that reforms need to be introduced gradually than in haste. "It is a pedestrian system, completely bankrupt of ideas," said Rudrashish Chakraborty a professor at Kirori Mal College and DUTA member.

Concerned parties are usually unable to talk to the VC to voice their complaints. Instead of addressing concerns, Singh is usually known to digress from the topic by quoting Kabir or Gandhi much to the annoyance of the individuals. The VC had introduced a "durbar" at an aptly called Gandhi Bhawan as an "open" complaint redress forum. However, as students found out, only a few were admitted inside at a time. "The VC did not seem to care about our complaints, and he left within 15 minutes," said a student from Dayal Singh College.

The VC dilly-dallied giving an interview to this newspaper for at least two weeks, and cancelled the meeting that was supposed to take place on Friday.

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