To raise awareness among youngsters about India’s achievements in various fields, the University Grants Commission has asked universities and colleges across the country to set up ‘Selfie Points’ at various strategic locations on their campuses.

The initiative by UGC to set up ‘Selfie Points’ across all campuses is aimed at raising awareness among young individuals about India’s accomplishments across various domains, particularly the new and latest major thrust initiatives under New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, like ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat’. 

These selfie points are to be created “in accordance with approved designs in 3D layouts shared by the ministry of education.” The directive carried various themes for their creation; these included the  internationalization of education, unity in diversity, the Smart India Hackathon, the Indian knowledge system, multilingualism, and India’s rise in higher education, research, and innovation.

These selfie points will not only serve as a source of pride but also enlighten every citizen about the transformative initiatives that have propelled India’s growth on the global stage. Students and visitors should be encouraged to capture and share these special moments on social media platforms, fostering a sense of collective pride.

Manish Ratnakar Joshi, UGC secretary

The UGC urged all institutes across the length and breadth of the nation to adhere to these designs to maintain uniformity across campuses.

There is a unique opportunity to harness the energy and enthusiasm of youngsters, molding their minds with inspiration drawn from India’s progress in diverse fields. The selfie points will emerge as a dynamic and engaging place to instill a sense of national pride.

UGC is expecting the selfie points to become dynamic and engaging spaces, instilling a sense of national pride and awareness among students with the goal of inspiring generations.

These designs were shared on a Google Drive link attached to the UGC’s letter. Each design carried a large image of the Prime Minister along with snapshots of the government’s achievements in the fields of education, research, and innovation, in addition to certain representative pictures on the theme. 

The notice received a considerable amount of criticism from faculty members and academicians. In an article by The Telegraph, a faculty member called this directive ‘full-blown propaganda to build a cult figure’, while another faculty member saw it as ‘promotion of a single opinion by dominant forces’.

However, days after the notice was issued, UGC withdrew the suggested designs linked to the directive. The regulatory body did not specify the reasons behind this withdrawal, though the directive to set up the selfie points remains intact

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Featured Image Credits: Himanshu Kumar for DU Beat

Kavya Vashisht

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In a country obsessed with engineering and medical degrees, the field of humanities takes a step back. There is a lack of liberal arts universities in the country when compared to government, and science and technology related institutions.

College admissions are a testing time for a student. The probability of getting in to  one’s preferred college/university is  very exhilarating, but the more important question is the choice of stream for  one’s further studies. Education in India for high school and further education is a division on ‘streams’. The predominant ones are science, commerce, and humanities. They are hierarchical in nature, as for an Indian parent the order places science at the top, followed by commerce, and humanities respectively.

The article brings to light a prominent issue in the Indian higher education scene: the lack of liberal arts universities. Liberal arts, within the past decade,  has been a good study option for a lot of students. In the western universities, there is a major focus on their course structures to cater to the liberal arts facilities. In comparison to their eastern counterparts like India and other Asian universities, liberal arts is still a blooming concept, majorly restricted to private universities.

Liberal arts as a concept was first designed by the  Greeks and Romans, as a form of essential education required for an active civic life. Basic subjects taught under it were grammar, rhetoric, logic, etc. However, in the modern curriculums, liberal arts has grown into a multitude of different subjects, with a promising prospect of varying skills and producing students as global citizens with a multi-dimensional knowledge of different subjects.

According to the most recent published data by University Grants Commission, on 25th September 2018, there are a total of 318 Private Universities established by the Acts of the Legislatures of different states. In India, some of the more prominent and well known,  liberal arts universities include universities like Ashoka University, O.P. Jindal global university, FLAME Pune, etc. While these universities offer attractive courses and world class infrastructure, the high fees is a major concern for  potential students. These universities also promise world class  standardised education, career prospects, and partnerships with big companies for future job prospects. A major attraction to these universities is the ease of adaptability one has, for pursuing post-graduation courses abroad, due to the similarity in course and work structure.

The study of humanities is still taken quite lightly. A lot of the state and  centre-run universities and colleges provide a basic Bachelor’s degree in the mainstream subjects of humanities. There  is neither much versatility in course selection, nor enough staff to ensure introduction of more flexible course structures. A major benefit which students adhere to a degree from these government run institutes is the feasibility of education. It is economical and reputed. A lot of students also wish to take it up as it helps in the preparation for their civil services aspirations later on. A popular career option is also   academia and politics.  While a major attraction today on a global level is MBA, with B-schools offering seats to over five lakh students every year according to a recent Assocham report,, a lot of students in these colleges are from engineering and commerce backgrounds.  .

A major factor for the lack of universities catering to liberal arts is also because of the demand-supply factor.. According to the general thinking of an Indian family till date  is that engineering and medical sciences remain the most highly opted courses in the country, as they are  considered “safe” options.. India, along with other Asian countries, is also the biggest supplier of IT and technically skilled labour in the world. Hence, when compared to other Asian countries, the state of Indian universities is almost the same. . Even though the liberal arts courses provide a number of career options the general desire  for high-paying jobs and a better standard of living is a driving force to opt for other courses. Luxury and sustenance is considered to be of a greater value than personal “passions” and hobby in a country like ours.

From the beginning, there has been good investment in institutes related to science and technology, and management like Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management etc., which are government backed and autonomous, and have been given international accreditation. Government sponsored liberal arts universities are fewer  in number, but very highly accredited. Universities like English and Foreign Languages University are known for delivering quality education in different foreign languages like Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, among many others, and in  areas such as Education, Literature, Linguistics, Interdisciplinary and Cultural Studies etc.

The need to have more liberal arts universities in India is a must, as they offer a great deal of flexibility in subject options.. There are options like deferred admissions, and students often take a gap year to   explore their courses more thoroughly, and also volunteer in their time off.

Liberal arts universities remain a popular  choice for the upper middle class and the more affluent sections of the society in the urban areas. A major reason why  this happens is because of soaring fees. While India is endowed to take its education sector in the same manner as in countries like the USA and the UK, where higher education is expensive, India should try to incentivise the private universities to bring more scholarship and financial aid opportunities. This is apart from the present situation wherein  the government itself caters to such services, albeit in a limited number.. Moreover, the government should also invest heavily in the improvement of higher education. . While public universities in India  do have a very vivid course structure  like that of foreign countries, the lack of options in courses is something which affects the career choices for students. A lot of the times, students compromise on their career options in lieu of studying and associating their profiles with a degree from a government institute.

The future state of affairs may seem bleak for now, but with so many different job portals opening up in every field, liberal arts may be taken seriously and more educational institutions would be put to practice for its sustenance.


Feature Image Credits:  Perkins Eastman

Avnika Chhikara

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Instead of calculating the number of reserved seats based on the total number of faculty members at a university, the UGC wants the calculation to be department-wise.

While hearing a case on teachers’ recruitment in Banaras Hindu University in April this year, the Allahabad High Court held that reservation in teaching posts has to be applied department-wise by treating the department as a “unit” and not the university.

In response to the above verdict, the University Grants Commission (UGC) last month decided to implement a new formula for reservation in teaching posts in the university. Now, if Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) decides to accept the decision, it could result in lesser positions for SC, ST and OBC faculty on university campuses, according to PS Krishnan, former secretary to the central government and an expert on the subject.

The Court condemned UGC for applying reservation in a “blanket manner” and advised the regulator to revisit its implementation. According to a report by the Indian Express, “If the University is taken as a ‘Unit’ for every level of teaching and applying the roster, it could result in some departments/subjects having all reserved candidates and some having only unreserved candidates. Such a proposition again would be discriminatory and unreasonable. This again would be violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution,” the Allahabad High Court had observed in its verdict that cancelled the BHU recruitment and asked it to start afresh.

As per official data, there are 17,106 teaching positions at 41 UGC-funded central universities, of which roughly 35 percent seats are vacant, as of April 1, 2017. Any change in the implementation of reservation will affect all new recruitment drives taken up by universities in future. The number of SC, ST, OBC faculty positions currently are calculated by treating the university as a “unit”. This practice grouped or clubbed together all the reserved quota for all posts of the same grade, say, professor, across different departments in a university. If the new UGC formula is accepted by the HRD ministry, the reservation would be applied by treating each department in a university as a “unit”. This means the number of reserved posts at the same level will be determined separately for each department; calculated based on the total posts in each department.

Krishnan, who has worked in the field of social justice for SCs, STs, and OBCs for more than six-and-a-half decades, told the Indian Express, “Take professors, for instance. There are fewer professors in a department compared to assistant professors. If a department has only one professor, there can be no reserved posts there as reservation cannot be applied in case of a single post. But if all posts of professors across different departments are clubbed together, then naturally there is a better chance of positions being set aside for SC, ST, and OBC,”

He further added,” If our goal is to strengthen India by giving opportunities to persons belonging to the submerged populations, who have become qualified, then we should interpret rules or make rules to enable them to come in due numbers. If our aim is to weaken India then we can interpret rules in a manner, which defeats the goal of reservation.”

The UGC’s Standing Committee examined 10 court judgments on the subject and recommended that the Allahabad High Court’s verdict should be applied to all universities. The UGC is learned to have shared this decision with the HRD Ministry and is waiting for its “concurrence”.

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Oorja Tapan

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Ahead of Diwali, there is some good news for the nearly 8,00,000 teachers and staff working in colleges, universities, and institutions run by the central and state governments.This decision will benefit 7.58 lakh teachers and equivalent academic staff in 106 universities and colleges funded by the UGC and central government, and 329 universities funded by state governments, besides 12,912 government and private-aided colleges affiliated to state universities.

“In addition, the revised pay package will cover teachers of 119 central-funded technical institutions such as IITs, IISc, IIMs, IISERs, IIITs, NITIE”- as stated by the Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar after the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

For the higher education institutions funded by state governments, the revised pay scales will have to be adopted by their respective state governments. The additional financial burden incurred by the state governments in implementing the recommendations of 7th Pay Commission for teachers will be borne by the central government. The approved pay scales will be applicable with effect from January 1, 2016. The annual Central financial liability on account of this measure would be about Rs 9,800 crore, the government said in a statement. The implementation of this revision will enhance teachers’ pay in the range of Rs.10,400 and Rs. 49,800. “This revision will register an entry pay growth in the range of 22 percent to 28 percent,” Javadekar said.

For state government-funded institutions, the revised pay scales will require adoption by respective states. The government had last year constituted a pay review committee, headed by UGC member VS Chauhan, which had submitted its recommendations earlier this year. Following this, the HRD ministry formed a committee to review the recommendations.

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Sandeep Samal

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