GCC asks LG to reconsider J&K Public Universities Bill

GCC asks LG to reconsider J&K Public Universities Bill
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Srinagar, Dec 31: The "Group of Concerned Citizens "(GCC) Jammu & Kashmir, a non-political , civil society collective , has in a memorandum to Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha asked for review and recall of the proposed "J&K Public Universities Bill".

The GCC pleaded that the extant laws governing the University system in J&K provided enough space for revamp and reform, precluding the need for a new law like the one the proposed Bill envisaged.

The memorandum asserts that each University in J&K has " acquired a distinct entity, ethos and eco-system of its own consistent with the mandate enshrined in their respective Acts and Statutes.”

Given their overall credentials and contribution , the very idea of repealing “their respective enactments would seem misconceived, ab initio.”

On the contrary, the Universities in J&K, like in rest of the country, deserve to be allowed to function and flourish further within their respective Acts and Statutes “which have , by far, stood the test of time".

The GCC also invoked the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which acknowledges " limited teacher and institutional autonomy" as one of basic challenges in higher education and , to overcome that, favors "moving towards faculty and institutional autonomy". The GCC cites certain other postulations of institutional autonomy in NEP 2020 that include: “all HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) to gradually move towards full autonomy---academic and administrative. The autonomy of public institutions will be backed by adequate financial support and stability ".

"The new regulatory system will foster the overall culture of empowerment and autonomy. Regulation of higher education institutions has been too heavy-handed for decades ; too much has been attempted to be regulated with too little effect . The mechanistic and dis-empowering nature of the regulatory system has been rife with very basic problems".

The GCC memorandum adds that, putting aside the NEP 2020 concerns on institutional autonomy in higher education, the Bill puts forth ideas and elements that might only tend to " constrain autonomy and thereby stifle free thinking , supplant independent expression, inhibit intellectual growth, and impair overall academic vibrancy ".

Buttressing its line of argument by reference to constitutional provisions , the GCC memorandum explains that " Education , as a Subject in the 'Concurrent List' of Indian Constitution, envisages as much of a plenary role to states , as that of the Centre, in legislating on Education , as also in policy planning , development , regulation and control of an entire educational sector in respective states.”

“It is important that a duly elected political executive in states is vested with a rightful role , relevance and responsibility vis-a-vis the University system. The proposed Bill is , per se, doing quite the opposite, for instance by substituting " Chief Minister" with " Lieutenant Governor" wherever existing in the given Acts/ Statutes."

The GCC however supported some of the changes sought to be “brought about in the (proposed) new law in matters related to Selection and Appointments, Finance/Audit & Accounts, and overall Administration to bring about more of transparency and credibility in the system."

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