The University Grants Commission (UGC) has delisted Forward Press and other journals and magazines in Hindi, English and other regional languages that are progressive and oppose casteism.The UGC has directed universities to not recruit or promote teachers based on published material in these publications.
Among the magazines delisted by the UGC are Hans, Vaagarth, Kathakram, Dalit Dastak, Samajik Nyaya Sandesh and Dalit Sahitya. The online edition of The Economic and Political Weekly and Mainstream magazine are among the publications in English.
According to the UGC, it has removed 4305 magazines from its list and and designated 191 as “pending”. A decision on the “pending” publications will be taken later.
Journals and magazines based on Buddhist philosophy seem to have been specifically targeted. About a dozen of them faced the axe. This aside, the Journal of the Oxford Centre of Buddhist Studies published by the centre at Oxford University and Harvard Asia Pacific Review published by Harvard University have also been removed from the list.
The UGC has tried to explain in its notice posted on the website why it has delisted these magazines and journals. It has said that it took action after receiving “complaints about inclusion of predatory, fake or questionable journals”. However, it has not mentioned whether it had informed the publishers before taking action against the publications or whether the publishers in question were allowed to make representations.
The UGC has stated that it has received several “anonymous” complaints and complaints from academics and journalists about inclusion of these journals and magazines in its list. It submitted the complaints to a Standing Committee. The Committee took into account two kinds of journals and magazines: those whose inclusion was recommended by universities and others whose notification and classification was done in the Indian Citation Index.
The reason it has given for Forward Press’ exclusion from its list is that it has failed to meet the primary criterion. The ISSN given for Forward Press is 2348-9286, which belongs to the Forward Press print edition. However, the print edition ceased publication in June 2016. Since June 2016, Forward Press has moved online and the website’s ISSN is 2456-7558. The question is: Why is the UGC in such a hurry to derecognize magazines like Forward Press?
Even the way a section of the media has covered this development is suspicious. The Delhi edition of Navbharat Times (6 May) headlined a news piece “UGC holds the mirror up to the RSS-linked research journal Itihaas Darpan”. The news piece says that RSS-linked outfit Akhil Bharatiya Itihaas Sankalan Yojana published the research journal ‘Itihaas Darpan’. It had UGC’s recognition but now it has been delisted. The news piece seems to be hinting that the UGC took the right decision.
Translated by Anil Varghese
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