The Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday decided to bring the College of Art under the banner of Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD). Currently, the College of Art is affiliated with the University of Delhi. It offers six undergraduate and five postgraduate courses in applied art, art history, painting, printmaking, visual communication, and culture. This decision has received backlash and some mixed reviews as well.
The Delhi College of Art is fully funded by the Delhi government. A government official said in his statement that this decision does not need any form of clearance from DU. Meanwhile, DU registrar, Vikas Gupta said that the matter was informed to them in written 8-10 days ago. According to the process, the proposal has to be placed before the Academic Council. If it is approved, it will move ahead to Executive Council for final approval. The approval of statutory bodies is necessary in such cases.
Opinions and Criticism
The varsity’s administration has not received any official comment from the Principal of the College of Art but AAP led Delhi government has already made it official. Even a college faculty member alleged,
“We got to know about the decision through news reporters on Wednesday. The change in affiliation with a state university will change our service conditions and salary structure… We have been getting frantic calls from the students since morning. Most of the students enrol here just for a DU degree.”
A different insight on this decision can be understood from the statement of BS Chauhan, officiating principal of the College of Art. He highlighted the major issues being faced.
“Our intake is decided by AICTE but academic approval comes from DU. But DU doesn’t conduct our admissions or exams. We have received no support from DU even though we are affiliated since 1974. We are not able to recruit permanent faculty; there has been no permanent principal since 2012. There are too many agencies and issues. I just want that whatever happens should be for the benefit of students,” he said.
College of Art has only 14 faculty appointed at present on over 56 sanctioned posts. All the remaining posts are lying vacant.
Even if the move is targeted towards the betterment of the institution why is it that the due process hasn’t been followed? In the churning of diplomacy and ulterior motives what’s at stake is the future of 1400 students enrolled at the College of Art and the faculty.
The Delhi government is defending their decision by reiterating their commitment to, ‘expand the skilling opportunities for youth’. Manish Sisodia, Delhi Education Minister said, “These mergers will make the skilling ecosystem more efficient and raise the employability and skilling prospects of our youth”. He also cleared that it is up to the Delhi Government to decide so.
A Deeper Conspiracy?
The question that pops up here is how will this affiliation increase skill opportunities when the Delhi Government has been incapable of rendering financial aids to DU colleges already affiliated with it. The past year has seen various protests from DUTA for the release of funds for salaries and pensions of teachers and the Delhi government’s inadequacy in doing so.
Academics for Action and Development (AAD) has also criticised this move in their press release. “This is a part of a larger design to disintegrate Delhi university into pieces. As per the AAD, the Delhi university is an integral whole and no unit can be disassociated away from DU”. The executive member, Professor Rajesh Jha observed that “This decision is the part of a bigger design to weaken the University; to make it easy prey for the government’s propaganda of privatization and contractorization.”
Not long back Arvind Kejriwal wrote to the Union Education Minister for amendment of the DU Act with the goal of opening new universities. In recent times, the Andhra government has requested the centre to affiliate Sri Venkateswara college to AU. As per these events, the collective fragment of The University of Delhi is surely under threat.
The decision has been called ‘illegal’ by Dean of Colleges, Balram Pani. Several members of the Academic and Executive Council have written to the acting VC of the University of Delhi pointing that such de-affiliation is against the ordinances and statutes of the University. Whereas DUTA has criticised this move by calling it an ‘attempt to push premier and specialised institutions into the self-financing mode with no responsibility to fund them’, by bringing up the examples of DTU and NSIT.