Hyderabad: The new University Grants Commission Guidelines for Women’s Studies 2019 has created an uproar in the country as the funding for women’s centres has been drastically reduced by 40 per cent by the Central Government.
There are 170 Women’s Studies centres in the country, of which six centres are in Telangana State, where undergraduate and postgraduate courses are offered. Research scholars on women’s subjects also carry out studies at these centres.
The new guidelines have changed the content of the objective role and also the nature of Women’s Studies and the funding pattern for it.
The established centres are divided into different phases like phase I, II, and advanced centres, with salary budgets ranging from Rs 40 lakhs to Rs 60 lakhs. Under this scheme, phase I centers receive Rs 47.5 lakhs per annum, phase II centers receive Rs 64 lakhs and the advanced centers receive Rs 75 lakhs per annum.
However, the new rule, which was declared on March 13, states that the budget will be fixed at Rs 35 lakhs for each center and Rs 25 lakhs for each college. There is no mention of phases.
Rekha Pande, the head of Centre for Women’s Studies and a professor in the Department of History, University of Hyderabad, explained, “The new pattern of funding has almost halved the budget for Universities. Only Rs 15 lakh has been earmarked for the salary of the staff. This drastic reduction in the budget will have a huge implication on the teaching, research, outreach, staff deployment, and other activities of the center.
The new guidelines talk only about certificate courses and the incorporation of undergraduate courses. But there is no mention of postgraduate courses and M.Phil programs which are offered in more than 50 Universities and colleges.”
The Women’s Studies Centres have been designed to act as catalysts in promoting the empowerment of women through teaching, research, action, fieldwork, and extension.
The new UGC guidelines of 2019 are vague and confusing and belittle all the work that has been done over the last 39 years.
The emphasis has shifted from teaching and research to extension. The new guidelines, in fact, are going to discourage the University system from teaching courses in Women’s Studies.
Women's Studies have questioned hierarchical structures at home and otherwise patriarchy, capitalism, and fundamentalism. Although the interdisciplinary subjects of Women’s Studies have often got a raw deal, women have still found these centres as a hope to pursue them.
This attempt of the government is being condemned across the country and academicians have come together to fight it out, demanding that it must be withdrawn....