Kolkata: Jadavpur University, one of the premier educational institutes in West Bengal, is among several universities in West Bengal that has rejected the University Grants Commission (UGC)’s suggestion to encourage students to take a ‘cow science’ test that is to be conducted nationally by the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog, a government body under the ministry of fisheries and animal husbandry.
“It has been decided that we are not going to encourage students to take this test. We are not doing anything about it,” said a top official of the university administration.
He did not want to be named because formally declining the UGC’s proposal in the public “could go against the interest of the varsity”.
However, the decision not to do anything about the UGC’s proposal was taken on Saturday, February 20, during a meeting between the authorities and teachers, according to a professor who did not want to be named.
Meanwhile, a statement issued in the name of the ‘Jadavpur Fraternity’ came into circulation on social media from Monday morning stating that the varsity had “straight off rejected” the proposal of conducting the cow science examination.
“The university authorities and teachers are of the view that the university has always upheld a scientific and secular form of education since its inception. Holding this examination will be a compromise with its eternal philosophy,” the statement says.
“The Jadavpur Fraternity would appeal to other colleges and UGC to rethink the unscientific direction this examination will give to the education system of the country,” it adds.
A senior official of the university administration said that the statement was not issued by the authorities. “We have not issued any formal statement,” the official said.
Partha Pratim Ray, joint secretary of Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (JUTA), said that though the statement was neither issued by the varsity authorities nor the teachers association, “it reflected the sentiments of the teaching fraternity”.
“As many as 250 projects have got stalled midday because the Centre has not released grants amounting to Rs 60 crore since April. Research scholars are not getting paid. Encouraging students for such an exam is nowhere near our agenda,” Ray said.
The statement in circulation says that COVID-19 has adversely affected the nation, in general, and universities, in particular, due to lack of funds. Therefore, university teachers feel that research should be conducted in “scientific disciplines well-funded by the government”, without any scope for diversion aimed at undermining science.
The statement alleges that the proposed cow science exam “tries to push a particular unscientific philosophy on the current generation of students”.
It also refers to two examples of “unscientific data cited in the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (the organising body) study material for the exam”.
The first example says, “The study material mentions that people who had cow dung put on their walls remained unaffected in the Bhopal Gas tragedy.” The second example says, “The study material mentions that a particular place where cows have been killed continuously for some years are more prone to earthquakes.”
The proposed online test, named Kamdhenu Gau Vigyan Prachar Prasar Exam and Competition, was originally scheduled to be held on February 25. The UGC had written to all vice-chancellors urging them to ensure wide publicity for the exam and encourage students to take the test.
The exam has now been postponed, and the new dates are yet to be announced. A ‘mock test’ was to be conducted on February 21, but it did not take place.
About five lakh students from schools, colleges and universities across the country had registered for the exam. The Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog, however, did not give any reason for the postponement of this exam.
In Bengal, no state-run university has taken any step towards towards encouraging students or even publicising the exam.
“No teacher or student in our university took any interest in this test. We have done nothing about it,” said a senior official from Kolkata’s Rabindra Bharati University, who did not want to be identified.
No step was taken at Calcutta University as well, teachers informed. Gour Banga University in north Bengal and Vidyasagar University in southwestern Bengal responded similarly, according to faculty members.