The University Grants Commission proposed a new syllabus for psychology earlier this week, which it said has “special relevance to the Indian context”, as the existing courses “were not rooted in the national ethos”.

In a letter dated October 5, sent to vice chancellors of all universities, the UGC observed that the contents of psychology courses in India right now were “neither keeping pace with the recent developments in the discipline nor fulfilling the societal needs”. A committee of experts has prepared model syllabi for the discipline, which the UGC has asked universities to adopt.

The new syllabus has been met by criticism from some academics, who accused the UGC of overreach, The Telegraph reported.

“It should be explained on what basis the expert committee concluded that the prevailing course content is not rooted in the national ethos,” Navin Kumar, associate professor of psychology at the Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, told the newspaper. He said Delhi University’s psychology syllabi already covered Indian psychology – study of how factors such as caste and communalism influence public behaviour in India.

“Every university has its board of studies, academic council and executive council to decide academic matters. The commission should not encroach on that sphere,” an unnamed Delhi University teacher was quoted as saying, while a psychology teacher at Jamia Millia Islamia University said that the psychology syllabi in India reflected the societal needs “well enough”.

Narender Chaddha, a former psychology professor at Delhi University, told The Times of India, “The syllabus at DU met all international standards and we must first look if the syllabi created by the experts even meet those standards.”