The University Grants Commission (UGC), through a notification issued on 2 May 2018, dropped more than 4000 magazines from its list of approved journals. Among them there are many unknown and little known journals. The magazines that have been ousted from the list include Forward Press, the online edition of Economic and Political weekly, Samayantar, Hans, Vagarath, Jan Media, Gandhi Marg etc. It is pertinent to mention here that there is hardly any research work on humanities that does not quote from any of these journals. UGC has also delisted a host of magazines that present Buddhist, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes discourses. This means that the researchers whose papers are published in these magazines would not benefit from additional points for publishing research.
We are consistently publishing articles on this issue to apprise our readers of its seriousness and implications. Read below the reactions of Abhay Kumar Dubey, Vibhuti Narayan Rai and Prof Veer Bharat Talwar.
Abhay Kumar Dubey: ‘Sociological analysis in English language is bogus’
The government certainly wants Dalit, OBC and Adivasi communities to change. However, it does not want to make the principles of social justice or the ideals of Ambedkar as the basis of this change. It wants to follow its own agenda using Hindutva methods. The government is doing it to garner votes, but neither will it get votes nor will the higher education get any better in the country.
Abhay Kumar Dubey says that the delisting of Forward Press makes it clear that the current (Modi) government wants to break the consolidation of the Dalits, OBCs and the Adivasis. This is an attack on the Ambedkarites of the country. It is an attack on the emerging Dalit power in the country. It is clear that the government is trying to crush the OBCs, who have emerged as a force to reckon with. The government is working in a planned manner and it is following a well-thought-out process. One should not just see what the UGC is doing, but also try to understand that the commission is only a tool in the hands of the government.
The moot point is that cultural and educational objectives of the government need to be probed. The UGC is simply following the government’s diktats. It is called an autonomous body but it has no autonomy. It is trying to prove that it is more loyal than the king.
What the government wants the UGC to do needs to be understood – I am saying this from an academic point of view. Since Independence, attempts are being made to unite the SCs, the OBCs and the Adivasis. As a result, they have become politicized. The government wants to get their support, but not as Ambedkarites or from the perspective of social justice but as Hindutva foot soldiers. So, it is necessary to dismantle the arithmetic of votes that has resulted from their politicization.
The government wants to eliminate all those who may come in their way – whether it is Forward Press or Hans or other magazines. The idea is to drop them from the list of approved journals so that their spirits are dampened.
This is one thing. Second, if the quality of higher education is to be improved, first the dominance of English language in the social sciences should be brought to an end. It has no value anywhere in the world. Read a recent report and you will understand the condition of the social sciences in the country. In India, the discipline itself has been ruined. The social scientists in English from India are considered baseless and no one wants to quote them or refer to them. Barring a few who can be counted on fingers, Indian social scientists are considered worthless with no prestige left to the discipline. Are we still slaves to the English language that we only study Western theories? But we are oblivious to the vast wisdom that is spread across the country. We only read what is written about our country from the point of view of the Western social theories. It is incredulous. We don’t even have a critical view of their writings, we just read them and believe them. We should also criticize whom we like. But, we will have to read them first in order to criticize them. The quality of higher education can improve only when we get rid of such theoretical failings.
Generally, academic intellectuals of the world back the establishment. They somehow speak against the ruling class but do nothing tangible. Sometimes, some intellectuals come forward, join the campaign, speak against the government and issue appeals, but do not go beyond that. They won’t launch a movement against the government.
Abhay Kumar Dubey is the editor of social science magazine Pratiman. He has translated works like Antarangata Ka Swapn, Nationalism vs Patriotism, Rashtravad Ka Ayodhyakand, Bharat Main Rajniti – Kal Aur Aaj, Bharat Ke Madhyawarg Ki Ajab Dastan and Bharatnama. He has also edited many issues of Samay Chetna, besides translating Sampradayikta ke Srota, Aaj ke Neta: Rajniti ke Naye Udyami and a series of eight books.
Vibhuti Narayan Roy: ‘Attempts will be made to buy accreditation’
Vibhuti Narayan Roy says it is foolishness to derecognize the magazines, it is a matter of concern and it needs to be understood. I can see that the issue is related to a specific community. I think that the government wants to crush all those who oppose it or do not function the way it wants them to. I leave it to the government to explain its intentions. But it is clear that the UGC and other institutions of the higher education are following the way shown by the RSS. They are hiring people who are willing to toe their line and there is nothing ambiguous about it. Now the government is reducing its expenditure on higher education, it is slashing grants and not releasing enough funds. Education is the main responsibility of the government, it should recognize that and must come forward with more funds and should interfere to push it forward. Instead, the government has pushed higher education to the brink of starvation. It is handing it over to the private sector. It is obvious that the poor will not be able to study anymore. It is a bad policy of the government. Now tell me, does it make sense that the government does not attach any importance to Pehal, and keep out magazines like Forward Press, Vagarth and Hans?
Roy believes that now the accreditation can be purchased to start a magazine and one can get printed whatever they want by paying to such magazines. Whatever it may be, but it is surely a bad beginning.
Born in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh in 1951, Vibhuti Narayan Roy is the IPS officer of the 1975 batch of the UP cadre. He came into the limelight when his book Shehar Mein Curfew hit the stands. This book has been translated into English, Urdu, Assamese, Punjabi, Bengali and Marathi. He has also depicted the social and political condition of the country in his book Kissa Loktantra Ka and Tabadla. He has held many government positions and has been writing on current issues.
Veer Bharat Talwar: ‘Magazines are our strong platforms’
Veer Bharat Talwar expressed his regret at the UGC taking out these magazines from the list of accredited publications.
Talwar says, “I am really shocked because these are very respectable magazines in the intellectual sections of the Hindi world. Almost all intellectuals of the Hindi world used to get associated and would contribute to these journals and it was a matter of great honour to get published in these magazines.”
He adds that Forward Press is a bearer of consciousness and the main voice of the Dalit community and the deprived classes. Similarly, there is no journal like EPW in the country. He says that he is surprised at who makes these lists of accredited journals and who makes changes to that list. He holds that Vagarth is such a good magazine and besides it is also harmless, but it too was removed from the list.
Talwar says that all these are magazines of intellectual discourse and these are the ones that have been sidelined – it is similar to demolishing a platform. The fact remains that such magazines are more in need today especially when these have been removed from the centre stage. The opposition has become weaker. Kumar Prashant has rightly said that it happened only after citizens’ freedom has become weaker. The government is using this opportunity.
The fact is that taking away these magazines is a regressive step, it is moving backwards. The universities should be a strong platform for all intellectual discourses. If the government thinks that it will be able to discredit these publications, it is wrong.
Born on 20 September 1948 in Jharkhand, Prof Veer Bharat Talwar is a renowned intellectual. After completing his education at Jawaharlal Nehru University and retiring from there, he is busy in the field of writing. He is also contributing to keep the consciousness of the Adivasi community alive and dynamic. He has been the chairperson of the Centre for Indian Languages at JNU.
Translated: Pramode Mallik; copy-editing: Saumya/Lokesh
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