The University Grants Commission (UGC), through a notification issued on 2 May 2018, dropped more than 4,000 magazines from its list of approved journals. Among them were many unknown and little-known journals, which were charged with publishing sub-standard research papers in return for a consideration. However, the list also includes quality magazines, known for resisting the dominant intellectual discourse.
The magazines which have been ousted from the list include Forward Press, online edition of Economic and Political Weekly, Samyantar, Hans, Agatha, Jan Media, Gandhi Marg etc. It might be pertinent to mention here that there is hardly any research work on humanities which does not quote from any of these journals. Not only that. The UGC has also black-listed a host of magazines which present Buddhist and SC, ST discourses. This means that the researchers whose papers are published in these magazines would not get the additional points fixed by the UGC.
The UGC said that the some professors, scholars, academicians and many ‘unnamed persons’, besides media persons, had complained about the poor quality of these magazines, after which a committee was constituted and the magazines were dropped from the list.
We are publishing a series of articles on this move to apprise our readers with the seriousness of the issue and its repercussions. In this series, read Nilanjana Mukhopadhyaya’s views – Managing Editor.:
Country on the verge of a historic blunder
- Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
Serious magazines and journals were treated in this manner because they represent the democratic voice of the country. It is apparent that the incumbent government is eminently capable of doing such things. The UGC is busy promoting fundamentalism. But what is more serious is that it is being done on purpose, deliberately and consciously.
The UGC seems to be disinterested in promoting scientific research. It wants to feed everything from history to folk life in an unscientific way to the masses. It is out to lower the standards of education. If nothing is done to stop it, the UGC will ruin the entire education system.
People are already avoiding asking direct questions questions. When the netaji says is expected to be taken as the gospel truth. Close your eyes and do what he asks you to. If anyone manages to see the truth, dump him by the wayside. If questions will not be raised, creation of knowledge will end. The establishment is attacking everyone who is engaged in creation of knowledge. The Forward Press, the EPW and other progressive voices are being targeted because they are seriously examining things. Nothing can be worse.
The Forward Press has been targeted because of the dominance of upper castes in all spheres of life in our country. Scholarship is also dominated by the upper castes. Just see our universities. No matter which party was in power, no matter how powerful progressive forces were, the faculty was always dominated by the upper castes. Of course, it is no one’s case that a man born in a Brahmin family can’t think about the emancipation of the Dalits, the tribals or the backwards. The UGC needs to tell us which magazines and journals raise the voice of the marginalized classes. No one can stop a Brahmin from talking about the Dalits or the poor. Since the turn of the last century, the upper castes have had complete control over the university system.
Take the example of the EPW. Beginning from its founder to all of it editors, it was managed by people from the upper castes. The reason being the that higher education was accessible only to them. The Dalits, the tribals and the OBCs were busy struggling for two square meals a day. Mere survival was their priority. Consequently, they could not get educated and the growth in literacy among them was also slow.
It was we – the progressive forces and magazines – that collectively decided that all sections of society should prosper and achieve equal status after Independence. What we call positive discrimination, was adopted as a policy with this purpose. I don’t think the present government has the capability to even thinking along these lines. They will only take decisions that go against the masses because scientific thinking is alien to them. They want to destroy the quality of education; they don’t want to promote new thoughts and ideas. But to stop opposing the government is not an option in my opinion. This is necessary for the well being of our future generations, lest the posterity blames us for being mute spectators to this devastation.
UGC has removed magazines like Hans, EPW and Forward Press from its list of approved journals.
I am not an academician. However, as an ordinary and thinking man, I can say that the present dispensation is determined to ruin the democratic system, instead of trying to better it. It is violating the basic principles of our constitutional democracy in the name of reforms. You carry out reforms to improve something – not to make it worse. The government has destroyed the fundamentals of democratic spirit and the inherent philosophy that drives every institution. The RSS is taking control of all institutions including the UGC and the UPSC. The government is also interfering in the affairs of autonomous bodies and educational institutions like the ICHR and the NCERT. These institutions are being brought under the direct control of the government. They are trying to turn the stream their way. The UGC has been saffronized. They are trying to saffronize the entire country. I don’t think, any government in the country so far, was so driven by its ideology. This is happening for the first time. Even the Vajpayee government did not surrender to the Sangh philosophy. It was not as driven by this outfit, as the present government is. The coalition parties are committing a historical blunder by supporting the Modi government. There is no justification for this government to continue in power. The political parties supporting the government are doing so only because of their lust for power – pure and simple.
(As told to Kamal Chandravanshi)
Translation: Pramode Mallik, copy-editing Zeeshan Ali
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