By Abhimanyu for Youth Ki Awaaz:
A controversy has broken out in Delhi University regarding a proposal mooted by the administration of Swami Shraddhanand College to “educate” SC/ST/OBC students over and above the curriculum prescribed in the syllabus.
The proposal was part of a letter written to the principal by the Treasurer Alkesh Sharma, which delineated the “supplementary agenda” for a meeting of the Governing Body of the college.
The point number 11 of the said “supplementary agenda” originally suggested the need for a “discussion on initiatives to promote education among SC/ST/OBC teachers.”
Later, the administration of the college changed “teachers” to “students”, claiming a “typographical error”, as told to YKA by the acting principal Pankaj Bhan and Sharma “It was a typographical error. Another mail was sent with the required correction,” both told YKA.
However, the SC/ST/OBC teachers of the college are not amused, even with the so-called “correction.” The SC/ST/OBC Forum for Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff of the college has denounced the move. Terming it “outrageous”, it has called for the withdrawal of the proposal and sought an “unconditional apology” from Sharma, according to a statement released by the Forum.
At the same time, the SC/ST/OBC students of the college are also up in arms against the proposal which was discussed on April 27, in the meeting of the Governing Body.
Lokesh Bhopara, joint secretary of the student union of the college and himself a Dalit student, told YKA: “This is a very biased decision on the part of the administration of the college. We wonder what kind of training they have in mind for us. Even if they wanted to do such a thing, they should have consulted the student union first. It is clearly a discriminatory practice, targeting SC/ST/OBC students.”
Sharma denied the allegations. “The proposal was not my own idea. It was suggested by some other member of the GB and I merely typed it out,” he told YKA. He defended the proposal to “educate” SC/ST/OBC students and added that this was being done in line with certain schemes of the central government targeted at “capacity building.” However, he shared no details about the same.
Delhi University Teachers’ Association has taken the matter up. Nandita Narain, DUTA president, who was present during the GB meeting of the college held in the Geology Department, North Campus, told YKA that the chances of there having been a “typographical error” in the first place were little. “How can one make a typographical error of such a nature? Typographical errors are spelling mistakes, not substitution of one category with another,” she said. She added that the choice of words used by the administration, especially mentioning SC/ST/OBC students, was “objectionable and unacceptable.” “They could have used phrases like ‘marginalised students’ or ‘students from economically deprived sections’,” she told YKA.
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