The Economics Faculty of Delhi University welcomed a new elective on Ambedkar while replacing the old elective paper, ‘Economics of Discrimination’, going against the decisions taken by the Academic Council of the institution on August 11 and introducing a series of changes to elective papers in the syllabus.
‘Economic Thought of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’, an elective paper welcomed by the Economics Department of Delhi University to be taught to undergraduate students this year has caused the axing of another elective subject, ‘Economics of Discrimination’, resulting in several faculty members expressing concerns.
The new paper includes Dr Ambedkar’s views and understanding of various aspects of economic systems; theories of economic development; labor welfare; economic policy making; and other issues in the Indian economy during the colonial period. It replaced a new ‘Economics of Discrimination’ paper, which was decided in the Academic Council meeting on August 11 while introducing a series of changes to elective papers in the syllabus.
The syllabi of this paper signifies that the subject talks about Dr. Ambedkar’s pioneering thought in the field of economics, relevance in the contemporary world and its implication for ‘social justice’, ‘equality’ and ‘inclusive development’.
An associate professor of Economics at Kamala Nehru College and an elected Academic Council Member, Monami Basu, mentioned to The Indian Express that the paper on Dr. Ambedkar was welcomed by the entire faculty as it talks about him as an ‘economic policy-maker’ during the post-colonial period, his thoughts on ‘colonial economy’ and how caste and labor are interconnected. However, she adds that the paper on discrimination was dropped without consultation with Academic Council members, departments or committees of courses.
Another professor who has been teaching economics at DU for over two decades has professed to the Indian Express on conditions of anonymity that the focus on ‘caste discrimination’ has been diluted in the new Ambedkar paper and it is only 10% of the paper now. According to other faculty members, the now-dropped paper was the only one that focused on the concept of discrimination in the UG economics syllabus. It had themes such as gender and unequal burden of work; inequalities in access to land; and intersection of discrimination though race, caste, class and disability.
The first suggestion to drop three elective papers, including ‘Economics of Discrimination’, was made in an Academic Council meeting on May 26 and opposed by faculty members of several colleges. Vice Chancellor, Yogesh Singh had then consulted a six-member panel to revisit the syllabi.
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