The New Education Policy of the Government of India has brought an uncanny guest to the main gate of the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) – pride. A policy and those that are to implement a policy – one should not deceive oneself about this – are antagonists. Keep this in mind as you continue reading. Policy and the Professor is a battleground consequent to 2006 – it’s either the Policy or the Professor. One lives of the other, actually one thrives at the expense of the other.
All the ages of great Professorship were ages of a systematic decline in politics, and vice versa. What is great professionally has always been unpolitical. During the good old days when there was the strict enforcement of rules the heart of the Professors opened up immediately to anything new – all this has now closed with the advancement of the democratic freedom of expression (politics), even the freedom to agitate and declare a non-cooperation movement and a third factor which I shall come to in the following lines.
In this environment, and with respect to what is happening in NEHU on the subject of the NEP, for all practical purposes everything is coming down to a funny standstill. This assumption may well be undeniable because the two power houses battling it out there are putting us in the unenviable position of having to take sides. And taking sides is cumbersome and pointless, as some of the nice things we may say about one group will be as wrong as some of the concessions we will give to the other. Yet something must be said and so we will say it cautiously.
The first fact that needs to be stated is, all the North Eastern states have agreed to implement the NEP (including Meghalaya) in one way or another in spite of the hurdles that are inherent in it, and second, both the fighting parties are aware that when elephants fight the grass suffers (in this case the students). Despite these facts a rift has been created in and by NEHU between the Academic Council (AC) and the Vice Chancellor (VC). Imagine this: even the College Principals throughout the State have conceded to implement the NEP from 2023.
Ours is a most strenuous age and time – indecent and hostile, whether of the soul, the body or the intellect, and this usually can be the cause for a general decline in the society, but this definitely, of itself, does not give birth to the radical repudiation of everything good. Pride does, and the morality of the wealthy is rooted in pride, that’s irrefutable, and now that the educators have become wealthy they have lost their focus and become proud interpreters of the written law instead. Educated people were once called people who think things out, do they still think at all these days? Because if they did, the Centre of Excellence called NEHU would never have let the situation deteriorate to where the students of the State are being held to ransom because of them.
All the above is clear and unequivocal, so what are we to make of the students that are going to suffer because of this power struggle. Their woes cannot be understood entirely, so let me state it simply….the exams that may be held this year for all college students will be null and void if the stalemate is not resolved. Yes!! And that is what the VC and AC members must expurgate themselves off. We need to draw their attention to the fact that their egos have come from wealth, and wealth has given them a sense of power and with power a desire to impose themselves and create disputes…create a polemic even where none exists, and although it is not understood where this polemic is aimed at, because it seems to be aimed at something, this is not the place and time to cause polemics. What is important here is that the NEP deserves quite unequivocally to be implemented without delay, because everyone, Colleges and NEHU included, know that the NEP will usher in something better for the students. Any excuse is mendacious.
I will touch here only upon the problem of the genesis of the conflict in NEHU, and will try with every fibre to stand neutral. The first and foremost principle for arriving at a solution to this ego problem in NEHU is to accept the fact that the NEP can be understood only in terms of the soil from which it grew. The NEP is not a political ploy, it is a progression of the Education Policy of 1986 – a consequence of the old – as the present day circumstances have been so overwhelmingly altered with the unforeseeable rate at which technology has progressed, and technology demands a sound infrastructure, which the NEP seeks to provide. This Policy is envisaged as a refinement of the old. Our attitude, however adverse to AC or VC, must remain perfectly consistent with only a sensible evaluation of the NEP to bring an end to this conflict. This is not a temperamental antithesis but a corollary of common sense. There is nothing ambiguous in this respect. The Old Policy had its virtues and we are where we are because of it…there is more to do now and that is what the NEP sets out to do.
When the NEHU conflict is considered in the above setting it becomes clear that in principle, neither the VC nor the AC can be any less motivated in implementing the NEP, and that they are not averse to it; but since one must impose oneself upon the other they have developed and created an impasse to determine who is the greater authority – VC or AC. This has nothing to do with the NEP. There is no point in indulging in endless redundancies of this kind by citing examples of one’s interpretation and application of the rules, or even quoting a rule out of context or in context. Suffice it to say that the future of the students – not the VC or the AC – is at stake because everyone interested in the matter wants to know what’s in it for the students.
Let me proceed with the contextual stand that has come from the mouth of everyone I have discussed this matter with. They say “The wisest approach is to remind the VC and the AC that it is their task to provide the best opportunities to the students of the State.” Period. The dignity of Professorship is not in the authority one wields but as in the words of Toynbee, “civilisation requires contributions from more races than one” and if adapted to the current situation it takes both the VC and the AC members and we the public to settle this matter. So let us suggest a solution – Mr. Chief Minister please intervene (not the State Education Commission please) and sort out the differences.