Published: 07th December 2019
Should students be able to veto their teachers or decide if they are qualified to teach them?
The critical point here is — should students have a veto, or a say, in the initial appointment of teachers? Can they actually decide among themselves?
Steve Jobs had something like a 90% approval rating from his employees. You hear stories about him being a short-tempered and aggressive person, which he was. But he was in pursuit of making people around him better so that the product they created would be better too.
- Ashton Kutcher, American actor, producer and venture capitalist
As co-founder of Apple Inc, Steve Jobs did not need ratings from his employees to retain his job. But the above quote reflects the popularity of ratings, such as those in TV shows. It is widely used in the corporate world to assess and reward or punish employees. Rating teachers, however, isn’t normally carried out — except when renewing contracts or considering promotions. Yet, we have recently witnessed an unpleasant case in which a newly appointed professor was harassed by students when he tried to teach at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). The whole drama was traced by Namita Bajpai in The New Sunday Express (24/11/19) and excerpted here.
The protests by students of BHU’s Sanskrit Vidya Dharam Vijnan (SVDV) over the appointment of Professor Firoz Khan as an Assistant Professor of Sanskrit may soon die down on its own as another opening has emerged for the concerned professor in the Ayurveda Department at the Institute of Medical Sciences in the same university.
Prof Khan had applied for the post of Assistant Professor of Sanskrit in the Ayurveda Department and now his name tops the list of merit holders who were interviewed on November 29. The protesting SVDV students had been demanding that the varsity administration shift him to the Arts faculty, where ‘Sanatan Karmkand’ was not required to be followed while teaching.
An earlier report filed by Express from Jaipur is also relevant. The small hamlet of Bagru, about 30 km from Jaipur, had erupted in joy when the locals heard that their ‘own Firoz Khan’ had been appointed to the prestigious faculty of Sanskrit at BHU. The protests which followed his appointment, however, ‘killed’ their spirit. ‘How could they,’ is what the people of the small town kept saying. Firoz’s grandfather, Ghafoor, used to sing bhajans of Radha-Krishna and Sita-Ram at Bagru’s Jugal Durbar temple for years. His father, Ramzan, has also worked hard at the local Gaushala, singing bhajans and carrying forward the legacy of his forefathers. “I have trained my sons to sing and learn Sanskrit,” says Ramzan.
The mixing of religion and scholarship, the invoking of ‘Sanatan Karmkand’ and the professor’s family singing bhajans and having a Sanskrit background, all seem highly irrelevant. For all you care, the professor could be an atheist or agnostic. The critical point here is — should students have a veto, or a say, in the initial appointment of teachers? Can they actually decide among themselves, whether or not the allocated faculty is appropriate or ‘qualified’ to teach them?