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How advice became an ‘order’

New Delhi, June 24: An “order” issued last week by the University Grants Commission (UGC) to Delhi University suggests the Centre was instrumental in bringing the four-year course row to a head.

Excerpts from the letter sent by the UGC to Delhi University, which suggest the commission was acting on a directive from the central government

The order issued on June 20 by Vikram Sahay, UGC director (administration), to the DU registrar says the “central government… issued directions” to the commission on the same day to ensure that no university “violates the academic structure of 10+2+3 in respect of undergraduate programmes”. (See excerpts above)

The central government — or the HRD ministry headed by Smriti Irani — has so far desisted from publicly siding with those seeking a return to the three-year system although privately the government has supported the demand.

Officially, the government’s position is that it has no role in a matter between two autonomous bodies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweets on most matters, has not yet commented on the mess affecting thousands.

Less than two weeks ago, on June 13, the UGC had issued a mere “advisory” to DU. The June 20 communication makes it clear that the “advisory” became an “order” after the central government issued the “directions”.

When the UPA was in power, the UGC had sung a different tune. On May 1 last year, then UGC secretary Akhilesh Gupta had written to DU vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh that the duration of the programme may vary.

“While the duration of the programme may vary from university to university and even within the university, it may vary from discipline to discipline as recommended by the Education Commission 1964-66,” Gupta had said.