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Freedom of Academic Institutions UPSC NOTE

 

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has directed universities and colleges to display the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao logo on their premises, seen as an attempt to restrict academic freedom.

  • This directive is part of a series of government diktats, including previous ones requiring activities like generating awareness on G-20 meetings and Swachhatha campaigns.

  • The UGC's December 1 letter additionally mandated colleges to create selfie points featuring the Prime Minister, indicating an increasing trend of government insistence on academic institutions promoting political propaganda.

  • The Article suggests that such actions jeopardize the traditional role of universities as spaces for free thought, with the current ruling establishment ironically employing tactics reminiscent of the Emergency in the 1970s.

  • Instances from the past year, such as the cancellation of a discussion on the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and fines imposed for protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), exemplify attempts to suppress academic freedom.

  • Resignations of scholars from Ashoka University, following a paper critical of the ruling party's 2019 Lok Sabha poll performance, raise concerns about the role of dissent in a democracy.

  • The Article emphasizes the vital role of academic institutions in fostering discussions, regardless of ideological differences, and warns against restricting the expression of opinions, which could negatively impact academic work and research environments.

  • Despite the government's pride in upholding democratic values, the passage notes a lack of concern for the freedom of civic discourses necessary for participatory democracy to thrive.

  • India's declining academic freedom, reflected in its low ranking in the V-Dem Institute's indices, is highlighted, with a score lower than Pakistan's and comparable to the Emergency years.

  • The government's intimidation of scholars is outlined, citing instances of hindrances through sedition laws, misused clauses affecting religious sentiments, and defamation lawsuits against artists and academics.

  • The erosion of institutional autonomy, especially in the selection of Vice-Chancellors and heads of academic institutes, is discussed, noting the UGC's deviation from its intended role and its inclination towards political considerations over merit in appointments.

  • The passage suggests the inclusion of clauses protecting academic freedom in faculty contracts and the importance of global institutions incorporating "Academic Freedom" as an indicator in university rankings.

  • Drawing inspiration from the Education Act of New Zealand, the passage calls for universities to establish system-wide protections against limiting academic autonomy and freedom of expression.

  • In conclusion, the passage calls upon political parties to engage in consultations with faculty bodies and student associations to address the current state of academic freedom and autonomy in the country, reflecting on India's 75 years as a Republic and urging the realization of Tagore's vision of a nation where the "mind is without fear."

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Freedom of Academic Institutions UPSC NOTE
Freedom of Academic Institutions UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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