Patna: Amid the political din over chapters on freedom fighter and socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan being removed from the political science post graduate syllabus of a Bihar university named after him, the state education minister Thursday ordered a reversal, and sought action against those responsible for the decision.
“The chief minister was so upset that he called me immediately and asked me to take measures (to rectify the situation),” Education Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary told ThePrint Thursday.
Choudhary said he had ordered the chief secretary to rectify the mistake and also take action against the officials responsible for the change.
“Universities do not have the right to change the syllabus on their own. The state government has to be apprised,” he said. His department’s officials have now also been tasked with finding out if similar changes were made at other universities.
The issue came to light Wednesday, when a vernacular newspaper reported the syllabus change. The names of socialist icons Jayaprakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia were dropped, and instead, those of BJP icon Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Subhas Chandra Bose were included.
Governor Phagu Chauhan, a former BJP MLA, is the chancellor of Jai Prakash University (sic), located in Chhapra.
The issue grew into a controversy after Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief and former CM Lalu Prasad Wednesday tweeted about the change, calling the Nitish Kumar government a “Sanghi” government.
मैंने जयप्रकाश जी के नाम पर अपनी कर्मभूमि छपरा में 30 वर्ष पूर्व जेपी विश्वविद्यालय की स्थापना की थी।अब उसी यूनिवर्सिटी के सिलेबस से संघी बिहार सरकार तथा संघी मानसिकता के पदाधिकारी महान समाजवादी नेताओं जेपी-लोहिया के विचार हटा रहे है।यह बर्दाश्त से बाहर है।सरकार तुरंत संज्ञान लें pic.twitter.com/t3Hpxz7bLh
— Lalu Prasad Yadav (@laluprasadrjd) September 1, 2021
“I established a university in the name of Jayaprakash ji in my ‘karmabhoomi‘ Chhapra 30 years ago. Now, at this very university, the ‘Sanghi’ Bihar government and officials who follow the Sangh’s ideology are removing the names of JP and Lohia from the syllabus. This cannot be tolerated. The government should immediately take action,” Lalu had tweeted in Hindi.
The Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) is part of the BJP-led NDA both at the Centre and in the state. Both Nitish and Lalu are followers of JP and Lohia.
‘JP University did not follow rules’
Choudhary said he talked to Governor Chauhan, who appeared to be in the dark about the changes, though according to protocol, they would have had to go through his office.
Further, the minister claimed that JP University did not follow the rules while changing the syllabus.
“If the current Governor cum Chancellor of universities, Phagu Chauhan, did not know about the change in syllabus, it is because the problem has emerged from his predecessors,” said Choudhary.
He explained that in 2017, on the advice of the University Grants Commission to universities to review syllabuses, an academic committee with experts from both Bihar and outside the state had been set up. The exercise started in 2018 under the governorship of Satya Pal Malik, and continued under Governor Lalji Tandon in 2019.
“There were several sub-committees for various subjects and after it was finalised, it was sent to the universities with a rider that 10 per cent of the recommended syllabus can be changed to meet the local needs and aspirations. Say that the university in Darbhanga wanted to introduce Maithili poet Vidyapati, they could do so under this rider,” said former professor of Patna University B.K. Mishra, who was a member of the academic committee which reviewed the syllabi of universities in Bihar.
“In Patna University, the syllabus remained unchanged,” Mishra pointed out, indicating that the change in syllabus at JP University happened at the university level.
BJP leaders, though, dismissed the issue. A party minister, requesting anonymity, told ThePrint, “If anyone is to be blamed for the mistake, it is the JD(U), which has held the education portfolio for the last 16 years. Syllabus change can happen only after the university’s senate approves it. Every senate has government representation. They could have stalled the move then and there.”
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)