WHERE WE STAND NOW:
As the monsoon session of the Parliament progresses, the possibility of the HECI Draft Bill being tabled before our legislators becomes more and more imminent.
The proposed HECI, as you know, will replace the UGC. It is a means to increasing government control over colleges and universities across the country. It also paves the way for privatisation of higher education through graded autonomy, threats of defunding and closure. (See here for a detailed discussion of the same by multiple commentators).
Following the brief period of accepting suggestions and criticism from members of the general public, the MHRD has told the media that they are reconsidering various elements of the draft bill before putting it in front of the Parliament in the monsoon session.
While the MHRD’s attempt to engage with stakeholders and the general public is commendable, the possibility of the Bill being tabled at the moment means that it has been, yet again, pushed through without participation in detailed deliberation with educationists, teachers, students, and academic staff. It is our contention that such unseemly hurry in bringing forth what is a structural transformation in higher education in India can only lead to unforeseen consequences.
WHAT WE MUST DO NEXT:
Under the circumstances, we must request our legislators – especially members of the Opposition – to urgently engage with the MHRD on the matter, raise our concerns in the Parliament and demand that the Bill be immediately sent to the Standing Committee for wider consultation.
As our elected representatives in the highest decision-making forum of the nation, it is imperative that the Hon’ble Members of Parliament vehemently oppose the Bill on the floor of the House and ensure that the Draft Bill is sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for nation-wide debate and discussion.
Prof. Sugato Bose (TMC MP) and Dr. M. Thambidurai (Deputy Speaker) have already set the ball rolling by addressing the matter in question hour on 23 July, as per media reports. This is heartening, and we hope to take our e-mail engagement process a little further this time, engaging with our MPs and urging them to debate the matter, ensuring that the HECI Draft Bill is not pushed through in a rushed manner.
HOW WE WILL GO ABOUT IT:
We have drafted a letter addressed to the Hon’ble MPs, which we now intend to send forth in the following ways. This will requires roughly ten minutes of your time, but it might save the future of millions of Indian students.
1) This is a list of e-mail IDs of Opposition Members of the Parliament (LS and RS) who often play a major role in debates in the Parliament. Copy them all (or make changes as you wish, and if spam filters cause a problem then feel free to break it up in two emails):
2) Open your e-mail client. In the “to:” field, paste the list of mail IDs.
3) In the “subject:” field of your mail client, copy and paste: REQUEST TO OPPOSE HECI BILL 2018
5) Press send.
There is more! Once you are done with this e-mail, we need you to send ONE MORE EMAIL (volume matters!), this time to the MPs of your respective states. This is a list in progress, and we will keep updating this as and when we have them prepared. As of now, we have only managed to prepare lists of Opposition MPs’ emails for a few states, and translations of the letter are also on the way. If your language of choice is missing here, please bear with us while we try and get hold of more translations. If your state list is missing here, again, we are working on it.
We are working very hard to produce a list of MPs for the rest of the states, as well as translations in other languages. As of now, we have a working list of MPs from Tamil Nadu, so we request you to kindly send them an email of the English language draft of the letter until we are able to obtain a Tamil translation of the same. Please go here and follow the steps listed to email MPs from Tamil Nadu.
WHAT MORE CAN BE DONE?
Keep talking about it. Keep sharing it. Keep tweeting at your MPs, since all of them have active social media profiles. In short, make noise!