DU: Academic Council Approves Bid to Name Colleges After Savarkar, Jaitley

New Delhi: The academic council of the University of Delhi has approved the names of Hindutva icon V.D. Savarkar and late BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, among others, to name new colleges and facilitation centres to be built in the near future.

In another concerning move, the council is also reportedly moving to accord vice chancellor P.C. Joshi the power to unilaterally take decisions over any matter without consulting either the academic council or the executive council. Until now, all decisions were first approved by the academic council and then by the executive council before being passed by the vice chancellor. Now, if the executive council clears the current proposal – to be discussed on Tuesday – the VC will have absolute authority over all decisions. The executive council, according to The Telegraph, is likely to give the proposal a green light.

The list of other public personalities, which the academic council has cleared, include names such as Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Savitribai  Phule, Swami Vivekananda, Vallabhbhai Patel, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and so on.

In an exclusive interview with India Today, Joshi said, “All the names which have been cleared are being proposed on the basis of their contribution to the society. The academic council has cleared these names following the due process.”

The proposal comes at a time when the university has allotted 16 acres of land to build two new colleges. The first college, according to India Today, will open in South Delhi’s Bhati village and the second college will open in Raushanpura, near the Najafgarh village.

As for the names being recommended, Joshi justified the list. On the inclusion of Savarkar, he said, “He was a well-known freedom fighter and if you will go to Andaman and Nicobar, the Cellular Jail is still there where he had been kept for years. Even I went there and realised his contribution in the freedom struggle.”

Furthermore, on the addition of several BJP leaders, he said, “All of them made contributions for the country and there are many others whose names are there in the list like Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, first CM of Delhi Chaudhary Brahm Prakash and famous Dalit leader Jyotiba Phule. Hence, we tried our best to be inclusive. Now, after it has been cleared by the academic council, we will put it before the Executive Council (EC) of the University for Final Approval.”

DU faculty members, however, are not happy with the proposal.

The Telegraph quoted former executive council member Rajesh Jha, as saying, “This list is politically biased. It seems it has been prepared to appease the ruling party of the day.”

He also questioned the decision to give VC all the powers. “Usually, the names are chosen (after discussions) on the basis of local conditions, the connections the personalities had to the area, and suggestions received from funding agencies such as the Delhi government,” Jha said.

Santosh Kumar Rai, a history professor, told the paper that the naming of institutions had always been tied to political preferences. “Naming is always a political act…. However, it’s always history that judges the personalities, and the justification and symbolism associated with the naming of institutions,” Rai said.