Friday, May 31, 2013

Aadhar Cards

I went to a local school to get myself photographed for the compulsory new identity cards. I have still not got it by post, or any information that I will get it at anytime. What really bothered me was the working condition in which those young people  who were incharge of preparing the cards had been placed. The room was ill lit, the floors had never been swept.  I asked if the room had ever been swept, and the girl said "NO".Those technicians were not Gandhian or modern enough, to sweep the room themselves, probably having been brain washed by the company that they were working for, that they were the new elite of the information revolution. The cameras for id photographs themselves were dusty, and I am lucky I did not get an eye infection, though my eyes were sticky for a couple of days. I cannot describe the dirt in that room in which these so called surveillance modern machines were placed. The young people were charming, polite, well trained. One of the cameras was however dysfunctional from the dust but one was working. However, the photos were taken, and the reciept issued. The girl worker was disconsolate, the last date was not over, it would never be over, they would be stuck in this dirty room for ever. The young men were a little more cheerful, and all of them were good at their jobs. Why they didn't sweep the room every morning before entering I don't know. Why they had no superior come in to check on their work environment I don't know. Clearly the Company had no idea what lapses existed between their intention as a capitalist firm, and workers' rights, and the government hiring their services without necessary checks and balances. Who was hiring whom? I was so stunned by the whole thing, I just suppressed it in my mind, a typical middle class reaction. As I said, the behaviour of those technicians was immaculate. They communicated that they knew their job. But they were voiceless about their working conditions.
Now with the new preoccupation of turning out millions of workers for the capitalist industry, of which information systems is only one integral aspect, the head honchos of the Delhi University are selling an institution of higher learning for just such unhinged purposes. Imagine armies of well trained clerks and programmers who cannot even communicate that the room they spend eight hours in is not cleaned. The ardour of their work must match their silence. There is no connect between a job which is given, and the results of that command.
 Once a University is dismantled, for whatever reason, it takes decades for it to be put back on track. Think of the Presidency shabby they became once their privileges were taken away. The secularisation of education is a debate which is very old in the country, the late 19th century was devoured by it.
 Sanskrit it the language of the  old elite, and also the language amenable to computer coding. By some new sleight of hand, the humanities are being rocked, so that all radical voices will be muted. By snuffing Delhi University through illogical methods, where the VC suggests that all power rests with him, and that by unwritten law he can change the very charter of the University, he is only communicating his own egoism. So many of us are trained in Delhi University, that it is unlikely that the death of the Honours Courses will go unnoticed. The working class   has only recently come into its own, and its right to be heard as privileged members of the educated class will not go unheard. By making it a four year course, working class lives will be put back into the grid of employability as the only criteria for higher education. State support will be withdrawn from higher education, and only those who can afford the fees will be able to study for four years, to emerge at the age of 23 as mere graduates.

Sunday, May 19, 2013



Orlando, by Virginia Woolf, is a testament and a fantasy. It represents the idea that by using the motifs of reincarnation,  timelessness,  genetic continuity,  dream time,  and of memory, a story can be constructed. Each of these are specific ways of understanding the world, and of coming to terms with mortality and the losses incurred by disinheritance. Within this framework, Woolf asks the question, “What is it to be a woman?”

Published in 1928, by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, the work is part of a genre of colonial travel writing. It uses the idea of the female protagonist as an active principle, answerable really only to herself, where she becomes in fact the adventuress. Such a female escapes masculine regulation, though it may appear as a fantasy, which she herself voluntarily gives up at the end of the narrative. The civil servant is the epitome of the colonial imagination, and ofcourse, marriage is a romantic idea, but then absence too is a valid plateau on which many marriages may function, and singledom reappropriated.

Virginia Woolf is working with several familiar tropes of the 1920s and 1930s. Biography for not just men and woman, but also the history of the house as if the house itself had a persona.  
Curzon, Viceroy of India, and Marquis of Keddleston writes in his “British Government in India: The Story of Viceroys and Government House” (1925)

There are few subjects more interesting than the history of a great house. The circumstances of its building, the alterations made in it by successive owners, the scenes which it has witnessed, the atmosphere which its exhales, combine to invest it in time with the almost human personality, that reacts forcibly upon its occupants, and may even affect the march of larger events. Sometimes a single individual will seem to have left an enduring imprint on the house. At others it sets a similar stamp upon those who have dwelt within its walls. In the  case of a great family mansion, which has passed for generations from one scion to another of an ancient stock, the house becomes an epitome of the family history, and is the outward and material symbol of its continuity. We may trace about its architecture and furnishing habits and tastes of successive generations. We may even, without being unduly fanciful, observe the influence that these features have exercised upon the characters of its inmates, imparting to them a sobriety or a liveliness of nature which in some cases atleast appears to  be the direct emanation of the dwelling itself. Great writers have not been slow to elaborate so promising a theme. Who can forget the House of Usher by Edar Allen Po, the Gabled House of Nathaniel Hawthorne, or the grim and fated mansions which Sheriden Le Fanu loved to depict?
But a great Government House or official residence possesses an interest different from and in some respects superior to these. What it may lack in continuity of occupation, or in genealogical interest, on in mystery, it makes up for by the quick kaleidoscope of its story and diversity of incident of which it can boast. And when the tenants follow each other at the interval of a few years only, coming en masse and going en masse, the scipt for drama is immensely increased. The house has, so to speak, a new lease of life, and a fresh opportunity for adventure, with each recurrent wave every four or five years, and as one fugitive occupant after another disappears, it alone survives as a witness to their career or fortunes. They vanish in the generations of man almost as swiftly as a meteor in the sky. But their trial still lingers behind them in the places which they inhabited, and the walls are left to tell with silent eloquence the tale.”(Curzon  1925:1, 2)

It is exactly this story that Virginia Woolf (VW) wishes to tell about Knole, the home of her closest of friends, Vita Sackville West. VW attempts to cross the borders of time in the telling of the story. The tone is so tender and persuasive, it reads like a dream or as others have described it, the longest love letter in history. Androgyny becomes one of the keys to this biological and historical identity. The markers by themselves are potent, because the frame of memory is indeed captive in the person. But who is this person?

Orlando is a mystery. The core theme of androgyny swerves into a seamless bi-sexuality, as the Shakespearian tale of Ganymede and Orlando. Individual history becomes transformed, sometimes even chronologically misplaced to produce archetypical history, the history of persona rather than person. Madame Blavatsky writes in "Isis Unveiled" that,
Speaking of ancient geographers, Plutarch remarks in Theseus that they “crowd into the edges of  their maps parts of the world which they do not know about, adding notes in the margin to the effect that beyond this lies nothing but sandy deserts full of wild beasts and unapproachable bogs” . Do not our theologians and scientists do the same? While the former people the invisible world with either angels or devils, our philosophers try to persuade their disciples that where there is no matter there is nothing. (pdf  Blavatsky 26)

Further, the mystery of time is unlocked through the undeciphering of narratives. In Chapter 1 of Isis unveiled, Madam Blavatsky is hopeful of the world being renewed,

Unless we mistake the signs, the day is approaching when the world will receive the proofs that only ancient religions were in harmony with nature, and ancient science embraced all that can be known. Secrets long kept may be revealed; books long forgotten and arts long time lost may be brought out to light again; papyri and parchments of inestimable importance will turn up in the hands of men who pretend to have unrolled them from mummies, or stumbled upon them in buried crypts; tablets and pillars, whose sculptured revelations will stagger theologians and confound scientists, may yet be excavated and interpreted. Who knows the possibilities of the future? An era of disenchantment and rebuilding will soon begin – nay, has already begun. The cycle has almost run its course, a new one is about to begin, and the future pages of history may contain full evidence and convey full proof that
“If ancestry can be in aught believed,
Descending spirits have conversed with man,
And told him secrets of the world unknown.” (pdf Isis Unveiled,Blavatasky: 33)
VW is completely in command as she translates the catherine wheel of collective memory in the fluid vitality of the elixir which we call fantasy fiction. Is the author concerned with reality or morality? The fleetness of prose lies in this juxtaposition where neither chronology nor truth are valid frameworks for interrogation. The reality principle lies in its buoyancy and its persuasiveness. The erudite and the erotic merge without pause, history is told as an act of emotion, sequentially placed, and then jumbled, collage becomes the motive.

Romila Thapar writes that travellogues were often represented as histories, where the oddest of attributes were ascribed to the people of foreign lands. She cites Megasthanes,

The Indian tribe number in all 118. The Indians were in old times nomadic. They did not till the soil but roamed about as the seasons varies; they had neither towns nor temples of the Gods, but were so barbarous that they wore the skins of such  animals as they could kill, and subsisted on the bark of trees and wild animals. Then the God Dionysius came and when he had conquered the people, founded cities and gave laws to these cities and introduced the use of wine among the Indians..and taught them to anoint themselves with unguents…the Indians were marshalled for battle to the sound of cymbals and drums. ( Thapar  in Raj Thapar1980:16)

Orlando is written in the guise of such a fantastic history. Woolf writes,
It was clear that Rustum thought that a descent of four or five hundred years only the meanest possible. Their own families went back atleast two or three thousand years. To the gipsy whose ancestors had built the Pyramids centuries before Christ was born, the genealogy of Howards and Plantagents was no better and no worse than that of  the Smiths and the Joneses: both were negligible. Moreover, where the shepherd boy had a lineage of such antiquity, there was nothing specially memorable or desirable in ancient birth; vagabonds and beggars all shared it. And then, though he was too courteous to speak openly, it was clear that the gipsy thought that there was no more vulgar ambition than to possess bedrooms by the hundred (they were on top of a hill as they spoke; it was night; the mountains rose around them) when the whole earth is ours. Looked at from the gipsy point of view, a Duke, Orlando understood, was nothing, but a profiteer or robber who snatched land and money from people who rated these things of little worth, and could think of nothing better to do than to build three hundred and sixty five bedrooms when one was enough, and none was even better than one. She could not deny that her ancestors had accumulated field after field; house after house, honour after honour; yet had none of them been saints or heroes, or great benefactors of the human race. Nor could she counter the argument (Rustum was too much of a gentleman to press it, but she understood) that any man who did now what her ancestors had done three or four hundred years ago would be denounced  and by her own family most loudly – for a vulgar upstart, an adventurer, a nouveau riche.
The specific orientation of the novel  Orlando is to provide a cultural history of England using Queen Elisabeth 1 and Queen Victoria as its two book ends. It is to this purpose that VW seems to write a counter history of morality. Implicit within  this are very focussed questions such as “What is the famly in history?” and “How do we understand the social relations of production within the manor? Is there a concept of servitude when we understand the life of servants, or  are they integrated in familiar and intimate spaces where varieties of relations of power develop?”. The central theme of the book is, then, “What is love?” Captured in cameo is the relationship not just of man and woman (whatever this may mean biologically and in terms of time, as the fantasmorgic allows physical changes to occur within the trembling of an eyelid, but it also captures the history of objects, and the relationships of individuals to animals, field and forest, agriculture and commerce and war. Orlando reads maps in a multiplicity of ways, through the facility of the imagination and of the self, where the body becomes an interlocutor in a variety of ways. Surely Madame Blavatsky’s experiments in consciousness were easily available to her? The traveller like the novelist, is probably the greatest invention of the 19th century, and by the early 20th, the excitement of fiction captured the other common forms such as the Notebook, the Photograph and the Diary as familiar forms of recording cultural and social transformation. This is typical of Lucien Levy Bruhl’s “How Natives Think” (1905) where the idea of the notebook is offered as a substantial space for recording ideas of comparison about the West and the other, whether tribal or peasant.

The traveller is someone who brings back stories, precious objects and secrets. Pupul Jayakar writes of 1949, when she travelled to Leh to bring back news of the craft traditions.

"After travelling some distance we came upon a lone horse and rider carrying a bundle on the back of the animal. We asked him his destination, and he said Lhasa, and that it would take him three months to reach. He was  the only traveller we met on the thirty odd miles to Hemis and he became a symbol of the lonely traveller, the cross fertilisation of the cultural streams of the world who through the centuries had journeyed along the ancient trade routes, undergoing formidable hardships to seek adventure, or wisdom at the feet of a Guru, carrying with him the culture and artifacts of his country and bringing back with him a fragrance of alien symbols, myths, religions, arts, sciences and technology" (Jayakar in Raj Thapar 1980:134)

Why does VW use the photograph of Lady Curzon to represent the aggressive and emotionally aggrandising noble from Roumania, who pursues Orlando first as a woman smitten by Orlando when she/he is male, and as an oppressive male, when Orlando returns from her journeys as a woman. So Orlando is caught between the concept of lover and husband much as “a fly on a sugar cube”. The symbiotic aspect of Lord and Lady Curzon are well known to colonial historians. (See Nicola Thomas, website on Lady Curzon) The portrait of one Lady Curzon  VW would have us believe, hangs in the gallery in  Knole.
In the 1925 description of Government House in Calcutta, Lord Curzon has descriptions of portraits of Vice-Roys which hang there.
"The picture represents Hastings as a middle aged, almost a prematurely aged man (he was 52 when he left India) bald and shrunken, very unlike the well to do cavalier who was painted in England by Stubbs, a few years later. In the background is the niche in the wall is depicted a marble bust of Clive. It should be added that the portraits of Hastings in middle life vary considerably according to whether they present him covered or uncovered. He became very bald at an early age; and accordingly when painted without  hat, he looked prematurely old.” (Curzon 1925: 114)
Colonial photography thus was an index of how mansions were ordered as a representative testament to power, and the intimacy and humour that the powerful displayed in relation to their peers is orchestrated in a completely new note by VW when she displays family photographs of people she was close to in the book, reading this in a metalanguage of narratives of which she was the chatelaine. Why  were the Curzons obfuscated in the dream time of the fantastic? Because they were close, intimately so, and therefore funny, sharing one persona, substitutable across time? The symbol of ornate clothes, for instance, so important to the Curzons as substitute Maharajahs in India is represented here in terms of a heavy handed coquetry placed on the dual personality as plain bad taste. However, we have to remember that androgyny and clothes were a central theme in Vita Sackville West’s own writing, published as a biography of Joan of Arc. Clothes was essential to this task of delineating who the person was. Joan dressed in boys’ clothes, and when she was arrested and put in the tower, she was forced to wear a red skirt, and Simone Weil used this motif in her own life, when she was described as the Virgin in the Red Skirt by her comrades. Reading the 1920s in this frame of a variety of metanarratives, also means that androgyny was being posed as a framework within which Jung was establishing his reputation against  Freud, with the idea of anima and animus, where the male and female principle would be integrated in both men and women in differential equations which were culturally emphasised.
“What were people reading at that time?”, has been the basic motif in reading Orlando in this way.  
 Living between the two world wars, Virginia Woolf cast her fate on the side of writing. Roger Poole believes that when she drowned,  it was because she had no faith in life after the war. Fascism was the final enemy, and death by drowning an answer to her fate as a writer. Yet, in writing, she inscribed herself, and words became not just the point of prophecy, but also of recollection. Blavatsky called it (prophecy and recollection) the ‘yearning after immortaliy.’ She quotes Sir Thomas Browne, “ it is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him that he is at the end of nature, or that there is no future state to come unto which this seems progressive, and otherwise made in vain”. ( Blavatsky, pdf 32). The Bloomsbury School represented the transformation from Victorian mores to the new sexual revolution which was typical of the early 20th century, where the occupational entry of women into the work world, for World War 1 necessitated that they leave their homes and become workers, meant that Literature too became transformed. Orlando is that abandoned moment, when time becomes relative, as Einstein would wish to be practically explained, it is also when the mystical becomes immediately possible, when nothing needs to be explained, and everything is. Existentialism was preordained in this lovely text, because VW could negotiate past all the agonies of Jacob’s Room (where women were as welcome as dogs in the Church or in Cambridge) or the harrowing fate of women who have an intellectual life, besieged by illness and death as in Voyage Out, or living secretly and in camflouge with a passion for Mathematics in Night and Day. In Orlando, the promise that the flame in the crocus will be lit, as dreamed of in Mrs Dalloway comes to fruition. And ofcourse Leonard Woolf publishes the work immediately.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tavistock Square and Translation Studies

That year. April of 1997, I sat in Tavistock Square watching the cherry blossoms fly this way and that in the breeze. It seemed the delicate flowers had a life of their own, and when I went closer to the tree, I saw that it was dedicated to the Hiroshima bomb victims. Just a single tree, with its seasons of foliage and flowers. The Gandhi statue was always filled with flowers, strewn on the Mahatma's lap. Often when there is discord I think that the two ways are juxtaposed, that of extreme violence and the other of extreme detachment. Non-violence is  not the way of the weak, it is the way of fulfilling one's desire for freedom, equality, liberation, community through active dialogue.
Much of the 19th century was about the process of industrialisation, which in the end created the societies of the west we know now with its hausmannism, and its significant decline in population. The inter-racial ghettos of the workers  proliferated side by side.
However, for those who studied and lived in the west, as many of India's bureaucrats and politicians have done,  they must know that the dream of imitating the west was never intrinsic to the people of India,  themselves. They cannot afford to imitate the west. Because they remained the way they were, caught in frugality and poverty, the art traditions and the craft traditions survived. People like Dashrath Patel in the early 1980s made films which showed how in Saurashtra, people said No to plastics. Even the village tailor said he would only make buttons from cloth for the garments, he would not use plastic. It's interesting that today, while India's rivers are clogged up in plastic, the new drive depends on people not throwing their marigolds in plastic covers into sacred river, and that river mining has to cease, and the governments of every state have to make sure that waste does not flow into the rivers. The West has had success with the rejuvenation of rivers, and in the broad dialogue set up between nation states, we need to learn from them. Sure.
However, when Delhi University sets up a baccalaureate system, without assent from its teachers, how does it expect the constitutional ideas of Legitimacy before all, to function? It seems very odd that students have to do an extra year in college, when the entire economy depends on the young feeling that there is a future ahead of them in terms of receiving an education in the first instance. When I taught 1st year students in Hindu College for one year, I was aghast at how ironed out their brains were when they came to us from school.  I quickly asked to be given 3rd year classes, because I realised that teaching 1st year needs a special skill which seasoned teachers have.The Board Examinations were exhausting, the general proficiency required on all fronts had left them quite ennervated. Honours courses gave them the sense of doing what they really wanted to do, and the specialisation was a skill which they came to with great enthusiasm. Over the years, voluntary choice of subsidiary courses has given the students a sense of larger Social Science interests, and with none of the reforms dealing with internal assessment and with innovation in subsidiary courses did the teachers of Delhi University complain. So clearly, when the Honours courses are mitigated by two years of compulsory foundational courses, and an additional one year to boot,  the teachers do have something to say.  Basic infrastructure is lacking, and to extend teaching to a fourth year has to receive funds which have to be allocated after the basic needs are first met.
The University has a function, and that is to liberate the mind. Tying it in with occupational courses is to give it a new dimension. If Delhi University wants to generate polytechnic functions it should do so with the permission of the UGC, and in due process,  in parallel spaces,which draws in communities of teachers. Indira Gandhi Open University has educated thousands of young and old people by merely sticking to the rules, and drawing in specialists from all Universities which take upto two years and six separate meetings to formalise and pass a course.
 America has its contract labour force, and the feminist discourse on this, such as the work of Sylvia Hewlet  is extremely useful to understand its limitations. Loyalty to the institution is decimated  when teachers are treated as if they are not of consequence. Once Salman Khurshed visited Hindu College as a chief guest and said laconically to the students, " I was in the College across the Road, and got 45 percent, and see where I am, and see where your teachers who were toppers are!" By these words he shattered the academics occupying the first row. How could he have been so boorish in front of the students, in a public platform, on a podium? Did we take him on? No, we just went back to class and taught the way we always do, carefully and with our politics outside the classroom. Right wing intervention was as specious, but  Delhi University survived decades of changes in Government by just sticking to its daily routines. A lot of the present governing elite from all parties, may have got their degrees abroad, yet,  the yardstick of an institution's success in India, has come from people who were swadeshi. Because Midas rules doesn't mean the people have to accept it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Delhi University

I was sixteen when I joined Delhi University. It was the most beautiful campus, with a season of flowers, heady in the late winter, early spring. Miranda House, where I studied had a great ambience. The arches of the college were persuasive, that we were as young women, embedded in some one else's dream. I spent three years taught by Dr Khadija Gupta and her team. They left us alone to grow, teaching us everything they knew, ambitious for themselves and us. My fellow students were from  Kamla Nagar and Kashmere Gate and its environs, traders' daughters who had been given a chance to get an education. There were others who came from Boarding Schools in the hills, who communicated both languor and urgency. There were people like me, who were middle class to the core, who either caught the  University Special at 7 am, or the Mudrika, a circular route bus which had just been started in 1974. It made commuting tedious but easy. It took me an hour and a half to get to college during rush hour, and forty five minutes before the traffic jams happened.
Our syllabus  in Sociology was interesting. We had eighteen case studies to master in three years. And we read the classics in the originals in third year. Some students did better than others, but we all got an education. One of the young women who sometimes asked for advice from me,  before the exams, in her broken English, shared a lift in a hotel in Madras with me in 1990, quite  by chance.  We had not met since 1977. I was going to my cousin's wedding, she was travelling from USA, with her husband. They were both computer trained scientists. We were delighted to see each other. She remembered our Sociology classes at Miranda House, and all our friends with delight.
 Delhi University has always had a very tightly run academic system. It went through several syllabus changes. Sometimes these were unaccompanied by scandals. Sociology for instance, always drew in the entire undergraduate teaching faculty, when there was syllabus revision. I remember Prof Amrit Srinivasan (now at IIT) and I were called in to advice the Department of Sociology on curriculum change, since we both taught at Hindu College for more than a decade each, and we had very strong opinions about what we wanted for our students.  Amrit would have taught from 1974 to 1990, and I taught from 1983 to 1997 at Hindu.The suggestion  that year, when we both represented our college, was that we teach excerpts from the Classics, and we flatly refused the suggestion, because we believed that at 19 and 20 years of age, the students were perfectly capable of reading and discussing the Founding Fathers of Sociology, (that is Marx, Weber and Durkheim.)  Several decades have passed since then, and the syllabus that the students now have at the Honours level, is even more interesting and demanding than it was when we taught it in the 1990s. The students who chose this are well able to cope with the 21st century, because they might choose different streams, but there might be a handful who actually go on to do reseach, and make a contribution to academic debates when they grow up. We don't know which that handful is, because all are treated equally, but the B.A Honours is designed for potential research force, and the Human Resources Ministry surely understands that.

The assumption that the Baccalaureate will change the University for the better, and that students want simplification and job orientated courses is something that will always be debated on. Maybe its a good idea, and only ten dissenters were to be recorded when the new syllabus was passed. However, the real question is, can one rush through syllabus change, without making amendments at the level of Parliament. Can one slam changes at the rate of two revolutions, administratively placed,  a year, without wondering what it does to the community? India is not America, and we don't need to be like America. We are a country where eighty percent of our people are rooted in the countryside though they may migrate for work elsewhere. That is the reality that Social Science works with. Industrialisation and the Greens Movement have always had a dialogue in India, and law court cases sufficiently represent the nature of that interaction.
 JNU did very well with the semester system, it does wonderfully with  varieties of levels of teaching material, because for forty years it made its cause celebre, the politics of integration  of the deprived communities, without being heavy handed about it. Policies and changes in the system included the students  and teachers at every level. How can Delhi University even imagine that it cannot take the teachers into account before making changes? There is a whole new generation which has tremendous potential. To have treated them as non entities is what makes the Elders so mortified. The next step no doubt be will be legitimation of contract labour in the next two and a half years, because America does it. Teachers come into the system with a great deal of energy and hope. To suffocate that resilience before it even expresses itself in young adulthood, is to negate the system totally.

It takes about a year or two to ask people their opinion, to work with local communities, and larger universalising ones, including human rights ones, before a decision is taken. Privatisation is not the only goal, though some people may think it is the answer. To make education freely available, the first step is to go through due process, which is clearly given in the statutes.  Delhi University belongs to the Nation, so whatever happens, there will be keen interest in the nature of change as it is planned or promoted. Keep the Honours system intact, and let the other parallel developments build around it slowly, with the right inputs from the teachers, who will be involved in teaching it. Ofcourse, the real vitality will come from the young teachers who will push Delhi University to its new vocation, that of integrating the communities who were deprived of education, whether they were  traditionally rich or poor. Education is the most liberating of vocations. One never loses it, however demeaning the tasks one might be forced to take for reasons of livelihood.
Academics do not become slaves because they have been paid equivalent to their needs. Most academics take four hours to prepare one lecture in the early years, and even towards the end of their careers, each lecture takes a minimum of two hours to prepare. All the bureaucrats who believe that a 9 to 5 job is the index of a good day's work should try holding an undergraduate student's attention for one hour, using the syllabus as his or her guideline. "150 pages per course", how can one teach with such a prescription on length? It is unseemly.

The success of Delhi University can be understood only if one takes the research paper quotient in to account. Delhi University has produced some of the best writers in the country. To oppress them with odd reforms which don't include their opinion is really a form of cultural destruction, and with the death of the University as India has known it, will come the death of free thought. First  the academics, then the's not that easy to commit intellectual genocide.
We thought that the opening up of hundred universities was a new step in the right direction, and that the hierarchy between metropolis and hinterland would dissolve, since academics are comfortable in all worlds simultaneously. Such is the Life of the Mind.
With the crushing of the teachers of Delhi University by taking their Honours syllabus away, and distracting Honours students with  myriad parallel interests, (all to be graded!) humanities research in India will be cordoned off to the elite, who can afford to stay in college till they are 22 labelled as Undergrads, or go abroad. The intelligentsia of the people will be stifled.  My grocer's shop assistant has a daughter who studies Hindi Honours, hoping to be a journalist one day. My street sweeper's son  in JNU, studies Sanskrit Honours because his education in Central School allowed him to score highest in Sanskrit. Maybe he will become a Sanskrit teacher himself one day. Education was the last Socialist bastion, in India ( we are Socialist in practice and by  the Constitution, whatever the Politicians or Industrialists might think!) and by dumbing it down, or generalising it to create a platoon of people who will serve the scions of Industry and Telecommunications, the real world of the University as a site of scepticism, creativity and freedom will cease. To be free, one must be able to question the structures and policies of the State, and the hegemony of those who believe that reforms can be imposed without dialogue or debate.