New Delhi: Teachers' outfit Democratic Teachers' Front has demanded the withdrawal of the mandatory registration and attendance for a certificate-cum-refresher course on Srimad Bhagavad Gita being offered by Delhi University's Ramanujan college.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Left-leaning body said that teaching and non-teaching staff of the college are being coerced into registering for the certificate course on Bhagavad Gita and called the move an "autocratic trait" on the college administration's part.
It alleged that the college is forcing the teaching and non-teaching staff to attend the course beyond their office hours.
Calls and texts to Ramanujan principal SP Agarwal did not elicit any response.
"Ramanujan principal SP Agarwal has abused the powers vested in him to dictate to all teachers and non-teaching staff to compulsorily register for and attend a refresher/certificate course on Srimad Bhagavad Gita," the DTF said in a statement.
"Illegally coercing teachers and non-teaching staff to remain engaged till 6.30 pm beyond official duties and the added burden of conducting the ongoing semester examinations of students is unacceptable," it added.
The refresher course, being organised by the Teaching Learning Centre, is being offered till January 9 by the college from 4.30 pm to 6.30 pm for all teaching and non-teaching staff in online as well as offline mode.
In an email to the teaching staff, the college principal said that the course is being offered in line with the Indian Knowledge System Centre proposed to be set up at the college.
"This course is in line with the setting up of the Indian Knowledge System Centre at the college. In view of this it is our responsibility to first sensitize ourselves through such programmes," the email read.
It further said that the college will hold such programmes not only for Bhagavad Gita but also for vedas which are part of the Indian Knowledge System.
A Ramanujan official on condition of anonymity said that the administration will not take any coercive action against teachers who don't attend the course. "The mandatory attendance is kept to ensure that teachers and other staff participate in the course."
According to the email, all newly recruited teaching staff in the last one year have to compulsorily register and attend the programme in offline mode along with non-teaching staff. Other senior teaching staff are given a choice to attend the course in offline or online mode.
The teachers' body alleged that offering such a course through the Teaching Learning Centre defeats the objective of the centre, which is to promote "independent, critical and creative thinking" and gives way to propagation of "sectarian beliefs."