The decision to scrap the course on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar came after a standing committee reviewed the undergraduate curriculum in accordance with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Amid widespread criticism against the decision, the Department of Philosophy wrote to the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University to retain the course.
The suggestion to drop the elective from BA Programme Philosophy by the Standing Committee on Academic Matters was first discussed on May 8th. A panel was appointed from the undergraduate and postgraduate levels to further elaborate on the same in a meeting on May 12. The committee is reviewing the curriculum in accordance with NEP 2020.
The University’s Department of Philosophy has strongly opposed this suggestion, saying that “Ambedkar is an indigenous thinker representative of the social aspirations of a majority of people in the country” and that research on Ambedkar is gaining momentum in the country. Accordingly, they have asked the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Yogesh Singh, to look into and reconsider the suggestion.
The course on Ambedkar philosophy was introduced in 2015. It includes the life and essential writings of Ambedkar, his concepts, and his research methodology.
Addressing various sources, a member of the Standing Committee reportedly said that no changes have been incorporated so far and that the final decision rests in the hands of the Academic Council, the varsity’s supreme decision-making body on academic matters.
This (the Ambedkar course) is not being dropped and this suggestion was not given by the committee. The suggestion was that new courses and old courses should be mixed together and it should be designed in such a manner that it should be attractive to the students and it should be designed in a way that it will be adopted in many colleges also… We suggested philosophies of thinkers from all backgrounds should be added.
– Prof. Balram Pani, Standing Committee Chairperson and Dean of Colleges, in conversation with the Indian Express
The Dean of the Faculty of Arts, who was present at the May 8 meeting, similarly added,
There were several suggestions made by the House to the philosophy courses presented before it. One such suggestion was to align the contents of the course ‘Philosophy of B R Ambedkar’… and to offer courses of other philosophical thinkers of India representing different approaches and schools of thought, so that students have options to choose any thinker they wish to study.
– Prof. Amitava Chakraborty, Dean of the Faculty of Arts
However, there were many sources that claimed the proposal to be true.
There were several suggestions made by the House to the philosophy courses presented before it. One such suggestion was to align the contents of the course ‘Philosophy of B. R. Ambedkar’… and to offer courses of other philosophical thinkers of India representing different approaches and schools of thought, so that students have options to choose any thinker they wish to study.
– A professor from the Department of Philosophy
Following the opposition, a sub-committee set up by the Standing Committee was appointed to discuss the revision of the syllabus. On 22nd May, the sub-committee suggested that the elective paper on B.R. Ambedkar be kept following the addition of papers on other philosophical thinkers as well, following which students can opt for their preferences. Sources concluded that papers on Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, and Periyar were being considered to be included in the curriculum.
The suggestions shall be placed in front of the Academic Council after approval by the Standing Committee.
Featured Image Credits: The Indian Express