The University Grants Commission (UGC), on 2 May 2018, removed over 4,000 journals from its list of approved journals. The list includes many well known as well as little-known research publications. The UGC has accused these publications of publishing questionable and poor-quality research. However, it has used this excuse to delist some reputed publications that have been known for their proclivity for an ideology of resistance.
In this context, Forward Press has continued to publish writings to apprise you of the seriousness of the issue. Given in the paragraphs below are responses of editors of the publications delisted by the UGC.
Conspiracy to weaken the larger struggle for independence of citizens
- Kamal Chandravanshi
What has happened is that the journals that have been the conscience-keepers and the record-keepers of the society have been thrown out of the UGC’s approved list. This has caused concern in the academic and intellectual circles. These journals are a mirror of what is happening in our society and UGC’s exclusion only proves that they are on the right path. The truth, according to the editors, is that the government does not want to listen to any voices of dissent and thus the most effective way to fight this tendency is non-cooperation on every front.
Kumar Prashant: ‘They have dared because we have become weak’
Kumar Prashant, editor, Gandhi Marg, said: “Government, rather governments, have always wanted every strong group in society to operate with its consent. This government is no exception. The journals and magazines delisted by the UGC are primarily those that have been critical of the present government and its policies. It is a fact that governments do not like dissent. As the editor of Gandhi Marg, I feel that the steps taken by the UGC or the government are indicative of the fact that we are on “the right path”. In fact, the present-day functioning of the UGC is by no means that of an autonomous institution. And it shouldn’t be. In such a situation, the UGC and the intellectuals who are associated with it must realize that the work on knowledge and education cannot be carried out with government help. We will continue to face such attacks until our institutions (including the UGC) are autonomous enough to function without government support.
“They say they are concerned about the quality of research. Then, to begin with, the intellectuals (say, members of the journal-selection committee) should quit UGC and let the government clerks take over. Then we will see how it regulates universities. Gandhiji has given us the weapon of non-cooperation, which we so easily forget. Whenever you have a moral objection, you should use this weapon. We have accepted in our innocence that we can rely on the government as we do our work. But why would the government let you do this work that it abhors? The government is an institution that has to maintain its status. Voices of dissent sideline governments. Today, this government is working against us, tomorrow it will work against someone else. This is not a very big issue but it is still a conspiracy to weaken our larger movements for the citizen’s independence. We keep trying to weaken each other, hence these ill-intentioned governments manage to do their work.”
Prof Shambhunath: ‘This government is a protector of lies’
Professor Shambhunath, writer and editor, Vagarth, said: “It is said that “knowledge is power”. But now, it seems that power is knowledge. If power becomes a tool to understand reality, that is, if only what is said by those in power alone is knowledge, then knowledge remains displaced, no matter how established the institutions of education are. When power alone is knowledge, the latter becomes just a tool. It then becomes not a product of curiosity or investigation, but about following orders. Even those in power admit this. They promote falsehood as knowledge. Everywhere, there are fireworks of insinuations and lies. Lies spread like fire and the truth lies smoking under the ashes. This is what the culture of today looks like.”
Condemning the UGC action, Prof Shambhunath added that this government was protecting communal forces and that he was trying on his own to deal with them.
Gyanranjan: ‘Increased responsibility for intellectuals’
Gyanranjan, novelist and editor, Pahal, said: “It is not very difficult to understand the motives of the UGC and the government. The government’s intentions are pretty clear – not just in the case of journals but also with regard to democratic institutions, appointments and universities. Their (the UGC and government’s) cultural and ideological leanings are suspect. They are delisting important journals like Forward Press, and removing vice chancellors and appointing RSS members in their place. They are appointing RSS members to university faculties. The intellectuals must view this very seriously. Having seen the signs of this tendency in this and earlier governments, I have never approached the UGC for recognition nor has the UGC contacted me.”
Anil Chamadia: ‘Killing the primary sources of knowledge’
Anil Chamadia, senior journalist and editor, Jan Media, said: “Without these [blacklisted journals], one cannot talk of Indian society. Actually, the work on Indian society has been based on secondary sources. Work based on primary sources is what Forward Press or other such magazines and newspapers – or the activists – do. These publications are what a researcher should look at. The truth is that guidelines for research have not been developed keeping in mind these primary sources. In any field of research, it is necessary to pay attention to these journals and what they focus on. It is quite clear that the intention of the government is to finish the role and relevance of not just the UGC but also other institutions. Ideally, they should have expanded the role of the institutions and developed them. Instead, they seem to be ready to destroy them.”
“They say that everything in the world follows a principle of natural justice, yet the government and the UGC are flouting these very principles. No investigation was carried out before blacklisting the journals. Keeping in mind India’s social system, the government should have made an arrangement for these magazines, which have found their own way of serving their spheres, to maintain the respect they have earned. These journals are not just engaged in publishing but are also working in society. This should be most important criterion against which they should be judged. It is true that the quality of research should improve. But let the government come up with concrete suggestions towards making this happen. Our magazine focuses on a stream within our social system. Forward Press brings the Backwards, SC, ST, Adivasis and other marginalized sections to the forefront.”
Pankaj Bisht: ‘Propagating False Myths’
Pankaj Bisht, editor of the monthly Samayantar, said: “This action of the UGC once again underlines the dishonourable character of the present government. It also shows to what extent it abhors progressive thinking and scientific temper.
The leaders themselves indulge in laughable and ignorant speeches, confused and deluded about their own shastras and the realities around them. For instance, they says things like “ airplanes flew in ancient India”. The chief minister of Tripura even said that there was internet during the Mahabharata. The government is in fact trying very hard to push the country back into ignorance, destroy facts and propagate false myths.”
Sanjay Sahay: ‘Getting ready to murder ideas’
Sanjay Sahay, editor of Hans, said: “The government wants to close all avenues of expression. This is even more dangerous than the Emergency. That was at least a ‘declared’ emergency. The present government is creating the same conditions, unannounced, in which no opposition or dissenting voice can rise. It is nothing but a preparation to ‘murder’ ideas. This should be opposed. For that, all small journals and newspapers must come together.”
Translation: Maitreyee Saha; copy-editing: Anil
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