The DUTA Secretary, Dr. Harish Khanna was recently appointed an MLA from the Aam Aadmi Party. DU Beat, amidst his busy schedule, managed to catch an interview with him.
1. From being active in Delhi University Teachers’ Union (DUTA) to being a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-How has this transition come through?
I have been active in DUTA since 1981. I have been a part of DUTA Executive Council six times and a part of the Academic Council twice. I never thought about being associated with the local politics. In the University, going among teachers and asking for votes is easy. But in local politics, one is confronted by the problems of the general public. This has been a totally different experience for me.
2. Since when have you been associated with AAP?
Earlier, I had been a sympathiser of the Jan Lokpal movement. Initially, when I was given an offer by AAP to contest the assembly elections, I denied. Subsequently, I joined AAP after being convinced by my friends in DUTA and in the party to join AAP.
3. You could have contested from Congress or BJP too. Why AAP?
If I would have wanted to, I could have joined politics much earlier (giving example of Kiran Walia, Congress MLA and the Health Minister in the last government, joined politics in 1987 who was also a member of DUTA). I was initially sceptical of contesting elections because of the murky politics. I can’t do the things that elected members from BJP and Congress do. I joined AAP because they are honest and I was impressed by their manifesto. I fought the elections with the resources provided by the party.
4. What is your take on the Four Year Undergraduate Program (FYUP)? How do you wish to take this issue up as an MLA?
We are fully against FYUP. It is indirectly opening ways for foreign universities and inviting them. This will lead to privatisation of education whereas education needs to be responsibility and priority of the government in a developing country like ours. Foundation courses in FYUP are a mix of all subjects and students from different streams are forced to study various different subjects when they have opted for specialised subjects. I will go to any extent to pressurize the centre to roll-back FYUP. Before the elections, I met the President, the Chief Minister of Delhi and the HRD Minister asking them to roll-back FYUP.
5. In your last press conference, you termed FYUP as ‘anti dalit and anti poor’. What makes FYUP ‘anti dalit and anti poor’?
FYUP imposes burden of an extra year on the students that approximately translates into extra 2 Lakhs accounting for everything for staying 1 year in Delhi. Poor students coming from faraway areas can barely manage to study for 3 year and now an additional year has been imposed on them. Dalit students will be forced to leave mid-way between the courses. FYUP is a conspiracy to admit students only from the rich families.
6. What is your take on the Vice- Chancellor and the reforms introduced by him in the University?
The VC is pro-Congress and the Congress government and the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry are completely listening to and following him. The last state government and the HRD ministry supported FYUP under the name of autonomy.
7. How do you plan to continue your association with DUTA, now that you are an MLA?
Technically, there is no problem in serving as DUTA secretary as it functions as a trade union. Besides, I have been attending various events organised by DUTA even after getting elected as an MLA. I plan to continue my work in the University and with DUTA.
With inputs from Shaily Sharma | Image Credit: Abhinav Arora
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