New Delhi, Feb. 23: The UGC has asked universities to sensitise students on human rights to check the spread of radical ideas on campus but sociologists have warned that the idea might backfire.
Such sensitisation programmes would check the “radicalisation” of youth who often resort to violence to protest against injustice or inequality, the higher education regulator said.
It also suggested that technology and science students be asked to take social science courses so they become aware of such issues. Neither of the two suggestions are, however, binding on the universities.
The December 17 decision was communicated to vice-chancellors of all universities last month by the UGC’s education officer, R. Manoj Kumar. The universities are free to chalk out their own sensitisation programmes.
The initiative comes as a follow-up to suggestions from the National Integration Council (NIC), which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The NIC, in a meeting in September 2011, had discussed the problems of terror and left-wing extremism that many view as off-shoots of inequality, injustice or caste and religion-based discrimination.
Singh had said at that meeting that “institutions and instruments of democratic polity allow sufficient opportunity for articulating differing points of view without recourse to violence. But no civilised society can tolerate or endorse loss of innocent lives in the pursuit of any ideology”.
The NIC had also harped on creation of new opportunities for productive employment of the growing labour force.
“The NIC made certain suggestions for consideration of UGC. One of the suggestions was to stop radicalisation of youth for which effective programmes should be launched in all educational institutions at regular basis,” the UGC letter said.
Reacting to the initiative, Kushal Deb, a sociologist at IIT Bombay, said sensitising students on human rights would make them more radical.
“Sensitising students on human rights and values may lead to more radicalisation among youth. Radicalisation refers to knowing the rights and protesting against inequality. If students get to know more about human rights and violation of human rights, they will become more radical. The problem is in society and that should be addressed first,” Deb said.
G.G. Wankhede, a sociologist at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said the measure may not be implemented properly since vice-chancellors are mostly political appointees.