Chennai: The clarification from Anna University's Vice-Chancellor M K Surappa that Philosophy, introduced this year for students of B.Tech Information Technology course, is only an elective subject and not a compulsory one has not helped. Critics, including the DMK president M. K. Stalin, continue to see the move as an attempt to saffronise the prestigious institution starting with the IT section and soon gobbling up the rest of the courses.
"Where is the need for Philosophy and Upanishads in a technical course? How will help engineering students?" wondered former VC, Dr E Balagurusamy. He felt it would have been alright to have lessons in Indian culture and philosophy but Upanishads seemed an odd choice for B.Tech students.
VCK general secretary and celebrated riter D Ravikumar said philosophy with Upanishads and Vedas was not only irrelevant for engineering students but also illegal as the move went against the Indian Constitution that guaranteed equality for all citizens. Besides, these subjects would challenge the scientific temper being inculcated in the technology students, said the Villupuram MP.
The move to introduce philosophy and Upanishads caused an uproar in social media with many interpreting it as yet another move from the BJP government at the Centre to inject Hindu religion and culture into campuses, thereby dividing the student community. Some of the twitterati demanded to know why only Upanishads and not Tirukkural, which is far better than Gita.
The new 'Regulations 2019' requires students in the second year of their course to study a course on Philosophy that has portions in Upanishads such as Brihadaranyaka, Chandogya and Taittriya, besides the Bhagwat Gita and some lessons in Chinese and Greek philosophies as well.
It all began with the All-India Councilfor Technical Education (AICTE) deciding to introduce new course structure for engineering education last year, requiring the engineering students to score at least 12 credits from the Humanities and Social Science Management Courses(HSMC) stream. A list of 32 subjects was sent to the universities and colleges to choose the subjects for their students. The Anna University's B.Tech (I.T)has prescribed five HSMC subjects, namely Philosophy and Ethics, Holistic Life, Film Appreciation, Technical English and Professional Communication. Students are required to choose any three subjects to earn their 12 credits to satisfy the AICTE norms.
VC Surappa has clarified that the HSMC paper will be elective and not compulsory. He has assured that the University "will not impose anything on any student". But then, the assurance has not succeeded to calm the outrage among the academics, particularly the Tamil activists and the Opposition political parties....