The academic council of Mumbai University will now look at ways to incorporate the heritage and history of the Northeast in its curriculum. This after the University Grants Commission (UGC) asked higher education institutions to change or modify the syllabus and include Northeast at the graduate and post-graduate levels.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has constituted a task force to promote educational opportunities and welfare of students from the Northeast. It has called for spending some time in the Northeast for students who are not from the region to “understand and appreciate its culture”. “Besides, regular cultural exchanges between institutions in the Northeast and other areas need to be built into the higher education system in the universities,” the task force said.
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It has also recommended a range of areas where the curriculum can be changed. This includes changing and modifying the syllabus of English literature at the university level to incorporate novels or short stories from the Northeast, translated from different languages at different universities, creative writing and post-graduate teaching courses. The circular to the universities mention the inclusion of history of the Northeast at the school, graduate and post-graduate levels. All these aspects will be deliberated by the academic council members of the university. “It is a good step taken by the UGC. Northeast is a special region of India from geographical and cultural point of view, and the younger generation must understand the region, culture, people, and their problems. We will put up the issue for discussion in the academic council,” said MU vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar.
In February, several Northeastern students from MU and its affiliated colleges, as well as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, had protested at Azad Maidan against the killing of Nido Taniam in Delhi. A major demand then was the inclusion of the history, cultural heritage and identity of the Northeast in the national curriculum.
“There is an isolation of people from the Northeast by society, flavoured with discrimination in various forms. The problem is lack of awareness about the area. Hence, the decision to include Northeast in the curriculum is a positive step and will help clear several myths and misconceptions, besides exposing students to the unique culture and history,” said S Jonathan Than Kho, general secretary of Naga Students’ Union Mumbai (NSUM) and a former MU student.