“Improper, Uncalled For”: Furious Nitish Kumar On University Syllabus Changes

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Nitish Kumar and RJD veteran Lalu Yadav hold the teachings of JP Narayan close to their hearts (File)

Patna:

Changes to the MA Political Science syllabus at Bihar’s Jai Prakash University – the Chancellor of which is former BJP MLA and current Governor Phagu Chauhan – have triggered a furious response from Nitish Kumar.

Among the changes for the new academic year are the scrapping of chapters on prominent social and political activists ‘Lok Nayak’ Jai Prakash Narayan (after whom the university is named) and Ram Manohar Lohia, while those on Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay and others has been included.

A strongly worded statement from the Education Department quoted the Chief Minister as expressing his annoyance over the “improper” and “uncalled for” changes and asking for immediate corrective steps.

He was also quoted as warning other universities in the state to consult education officials before making syllabus changes, and said that in public interest no such steps would be allowed in the future.

The Chief Minister also hit out at the changes, saying that “tradition was not followed” and that his government could not accept a syllabus that is “against the public mood”.

Both Nitish Kumar and RJD veteran Lalu Prasad Yadav hold the teachings of JP Narayan close to their hearts; Lalu Prasad, who set up the university when he was chief minister, tweeted that a “RSS-backed Bihar government and RSS mindset (had) removed thoughts of great socialist leaders”.

“I set up JPU 30 years ago in my karmbhoomi. It was named after Jai Prakashji. Now the RSS-backed Bihar government and RSS mindset has removed the thoughts of great socialist leaders… This cannot be tolerated. The government must take cognisance forthwith,” he said in Hindi.

The Vice Chancellor and officials of the university, which is in Chhapra district, were summoned to Patna today, where they were asked to explain why a university named after Jayaprakash Narayan had scrapped scrapped lessons on his popular movement, as well as that of Ram Manohar Lohia.

The issue came to light after the local unit of the Students’ Federation of India raised objections.

“How ironic that it is the JP University and a chapter on Jayaprakash Narayan and Lohia was dropped…,” Shailendra Yadav, a SFI leader, commented.

Vice Chancellor Faruque Ali has said the syllabus had been approved by the previous governor (Lalji Tandon, who served from August 2018 to July 2019) and that its implementation had been halted because of a delay in rolling out the CBCS (choice-based credit system).

“Whatever syllabus was approved… that has now been implemented,” he said.

The issue has now snowballed into a major controversy, with the opposition RJD alleging a ‘hidden agenda’ by the RSS and the BJP-JDU government in power.

“We have no issue with a chapter on Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay… but how can you remove from the chapter on ‘Lok Nayak’ Jayaprakash Narayan?” Jagdanand Singh, the party’s President, asked.

Stung by the omission, Nitish Kumar’s JDU (demoted to junior partner in the ruling alliance after a poor showing in last year’s election) has stressed that corrective steps will be taken.

“I have spoken to the Governor and, once he comes back, even he agreed to take corrective steps… sooner rather than later,” the JDU’s Vijay Kumar Choudhary, who is the HRD Minister, said.

While the issue of the JP University’s syllabus may soon be resolved, it is likely to create further friction between the BJP and the JDU amid the looming shadow of the RSS (the BJP’s ideological mentor) on Bihar universities.



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