New Delhi, July 26: We are herewith releasing the text of the note containing the opinion of the CPI(M) on the proposed Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) Draft Bill. This note was sent to the Prime Minister this morning, with a copy marked to the HRD Minister.

The NDA-II Government has repeatedly targeted Public-funded Higher Education and Research in the last four years. Its hostility against the culture of democratic debates and rational social enquiry in premier universities, by demonising and mobilising negative public opinion against sections of students and faculty, its authoritarian challenge to academic and intellectual autonomy, and its aggressive promotion of mythological beliefs and supremacist bias against scientific and historical facts constitute one dimension of this attack. The other, more systematic, way in which it has tried to bring Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) down on their knees is by continuously slashing budgetary allocations to the UGC, asking public-funded HEIs to generate a part of their costs through internal resources and loans, drastically reducing seats and fellowships for M.Phil. and Ph.D. research programmes and promoting short-term contractual employment of faculty and administrative staff instead of permanent recruitment.

Higher Educational Reform under the NDA-II Government is guided by twin concerns that threaten to destroy the foundations of Higher Education in independent India and impede the salutary role it has played, over decades, in empowering the common people with learning, jobs and social confidence. These twin concerns are (i) Privatisation, and (ii) Social Exclusion. The twin agendas of Privatisation and Social Exclusion are strongly reflected in the Draft Bill on the HECI (Repeal of UGC Act, 1956) Act, 2018 that the MHRD proposes to introduce in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.

The CPI(M) will approach all secular, democratic parties, educationists, intellectuals, teaching fraternity, students and all other concerned individuals and organisations to build a broad resistance against this.

Text of the letter of CPI(M) General Secretary to the Prime Minister

Dear Pradhan Mantriji,

I am constrained to draw your attention to the draft legislation prepared by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for establishing the Higher Education Commission of India replacing the existing University Grants Commission which had been earlier established by the Parliament of India.

After carefully going through the provisions of the proposed Bill we, from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are compelled to come to the conclusion that if the Bill is enacted in the present form and with the approach that its provisions suggest, it will have a major adverse impact on higher education in the country in general and public funded higher education in particular.

As it is often said, it does not require an external enemy to destroy a country; destruction of its education system is more than adequate to ensure that outcome. I am afraid that the present draft Bill needs to be withdrawn to avert that eventuality.

In order to substantiate my argument, I am attaching herewith our comprehensive understanding about the proposed legislation.