The University of Delhi will no longer be offering papers on the History of the United States of America and that of the USSR starting this academic session. Papers like East Asia (which covers China and Japan in great detail) have been retained, and the University has also included modern Korea as part of the course.
While the University has not yet given any clear reason for taking this decision, both students and teachers are of the opinion the excluded these papers will dilute the entire course. Prerna Bhagi, a student of history who took the American History Course last year said, “The course really helped me understand the international politics and history of the most powerful nation in the world. It gave me grasp over the concept of foreign relations too. I don’t know why the University officials would take a decision to scrap these papers, unless they have something better in mind.”
The scraping of these papers also raises an important question over the factor of choice that the VC wished to introduce in the FYUP, as many students genuinely interested in African, American or Soviet History, which were previously the most popular optional papers, will not get a chance to do so in the course of their undergraduate education.
Teachers of History at the University say that they were not consulted at all when this decision was taken, and believe that they were particularly excluded out of all FYUP related decision making processes. In fact, in an open letter to the Vice Chancellor and the public, twenty history teachers have claimed that no democratic process of consultation or negotiation was followed when the FYUP courses were formulated. They claim they were kept in the dark about the courses they were meant to teach and the ones being scrapped off. They have also accused the University officials for making the Indian History and Culture paper intellectually and qualitatively inferior to University standards, by plagiarizing from an 11th standard CBSE textbook.
The Department of History, for the past few years has been at loggerheads with University officials over quite a few issues. Two years ago, when the semester system was newly introduced in the University, AK Ramanujan’s essay ‘Three Hundred Ramayans’ was excluded from the course, also leading to severe dissent from History teachers.
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