Delhi University: history
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Shinjini Ghosh, April 30, 2022: The Times of India
New Delhi: As Delhi University completes its 100th year of existence, the vision laid out by one of its pre-eminent vice chancellors, Sir Maurice Gwyer, of the institution being a“field of ambition” has only gained more prominence. In August 1939, Sir Maurice had said in a memorandum to the government of India: “It (DU) should be a field of ambition, in which all classes, parties and creeds may labour together in a labour of love, working harmony for a common cause… Will the university command the lively sympathy and assistance of the public and be enabled to secure its place as a great ‘allIndia’ institution?”
In his article, ‘The University of Delhi: A Field of Ambition’, former VC Upendra Baxi noted that Sir Maurice’s memorandum related to a resource crisis for the university that had “practically lived from hand to mouth from 1922 till 1937”. Despite such straitened beginnings, a century later, several former VCs and academicians are satisfied that DU has secured its place as a “great pan-India institution”.
Speaking to TOI, Baxi, who was VC from 1990-94, said, “DU has played a very good role in maintaining a high standard of education and research. The thread lies with the students who come from all parts of the country. The university is a mini-India, a microcosm of cultures. ”
What began with three colleges and 750 students in 1922 is today an institution of higher learning with 91 colleges and 86 departments and over seven lakh students. Stating that it was Sir Maurice’s vision that inspired DU’s evolution, Sydney R. Rebeiro, DU’s first dean of alumni affairs, said, “It is a cardinal sin not to have given Gwyer his full, true and legitimate place in the history and tremendous evolution of Delhi. He was the one who brought the Oxford model of a threeyear honours programme. With DU emerged the city of Delhi in many ways. ”
Rebeiro also insisted that DU was not elitist. “Colleges like St Stephen’s, Hindu, Lady Shri Ram and Miranda House, among others, are elite and aristocratic in academia because they maintain high standards,” he said. Over time, DU’s vice-chancellors have contributed greatly in enriching the processes of institutional expansion. As Baxi noted, “While the initiation of the idea of multi-campus development owes a great deal to Dr Sarup Singh, his successors have nurtured it to make DU a modern incarnation of the early institution, not just in terms of architecture of buildings but also in making the South Campus a site of many fronti- er disciplines in science. ”
The university, established as an institution for imperial knowledge, soon be- came a reflection of political and social change in India, said Santosh Rai, professor in DU’s department of histo- ry. “When the principal of St. Stephen’s College became Gandhi’s host, it was apparent that DU would play a political role,” Rai said. “During the Quit India Movement, students of Indraprastha College for Women began participating in the freedom movement and a similar thing happened in Zakir Hussain College. The university gradually became a political space for the national movement. The real autonomy reflected not only in the statutes but also in actions and it was revolutionary. ”
Highlighting how the university soon became the haven for the “best,” Rai added, “British administrators like Gwyer emphasised on recruiting the best. When the best faculty was installed, the best students also followed. After independence, DU became a nationalist university. Its biggest asset is the pluralistic character which caters to all social groups and gender. Apart from vice-chancellors Gwyer and CD Deshmukh, vice-chancellor KN Raj was instrumental in introducing most of the ordinances and statues that democratised the administration. Another visionary VC, professor Dinesh Singh, wanted to follow an interdisciplinary approach and introduced the four-year undergraduate programme in 2013. ”
Emphasising that the university has kept pace with the times, Dinesh Singh, who was the VC from 2010 to 15, said, “The best quality of the university is that it attracts very talented students from all parts of the country and from all segments of society. DU generally gets the better crop of the country’s students most of the time. Over time, it has, thus, consistently remained one of the best universities. This is an important factor which keeps the university energetic and lively. ”
Talking about the time he introduced the four-year undergraduate programme at DU, Dinesh Singh said, “During my tenure, my cherished dream of fully implementing the four-year undergraduate programme remained incomplete even though the four-year blueprint was fully in place. There are reasons that I do not wish to dwell upon that led to this. Fortunately, the four-year programme has returned now in near verbatim fashion and will likely do the nation a great deal of good. ”
Rai said that the century has shown that DU is where it is on the strength of its curriculum, faculty’s knowledge and empowerment and the students’ capacity to adjust to rapid changes to the curriculum. “After a century of existence, the challenges before the university are: what is our vision for the future? Will we continue to cater to a plurality of students? And will the freedom that the faculty and students have been enjoying continue to remain or will we become another mere university?” asked Rai.
After a glorious 100 years, Delhi University’s aim is to now be among the 200 best universities in the world, asserted Yogesh Singh, incumbent vice-chancellor. “DU is a very old institution and it has served not only the people of India and the government of India, but also the entire humanity,” said Yogesh Singh. “It has done remarkably well in the last 100 years. It has participated actively in the growth and development of our country. ”
The VC said now is the time to think of the university’s next 25 years to the time when DU would be 125 years old. “Where would we like DU to be? I think our first target is to be in the top 200 universities of the world,” said Yogesh Singh. “I know that will not be an easy achievement, but we have potential and the capacity to reach that milestone. What is more, we are already working in that direction. ”
The VC added, “We also have to strengthen our infrastructure. While one segment of this process is the restoration and renovation work — which has already begun on a war-footing — the other is the creation of new infrastructure. The starting of new projects worth Rs 1,000 crore is on the anvil. ” Delhi University’s appetite to become a ‘field of ambition’, it appears, hasn’t diminished even after 100 years.
Sukrita Baruah, May 3, 2022: The Indian Express
The idea of a university
The idea for the university began taking shape in 1911 when it was decided to shift the capital of India to Delhi from Calcutta. The onset of World War I, differences over the nature of the would-be university, and lack of funds kept the idea from coming to fruition for another 11 years.
On January 16, 1922, the Delhi University Bill was introduced in the Imperial Legislative Assembly with the objective of establishing a unitary teaching and residential university in the capital of British India. At that time, Delhi had three arts colleges — St Stephen’s College, which was founded in 1882 by the Cambridge Mission; Hindu College, which was founded in 1899; and Ramjas College which was founded in 1917 — and Lady Hardinge Medical College. These three colleges were to become the first constituent colleges of the university.
The Bill was passed by the Assembly on February 22, and by the Council of States on February 28. The Viceroy gave his assent on April 6, and the DU Act came into force on May 1, 1922, with Viceroy Lord Reading as the first Chancellor and Hari Singh Gour as the first Vice-Chancellor.
DU began with just two faculties — arts and science — and eight departments — English, history, economics, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, physics, and chemistry.
At the university’s first convocation in 1923, Vice-Chancellor Gour said that at “the new Delhi now to be the Imperial capital of a reformed and regenerated India…a new university should be created which should serve as an inspiration to its new hopes and signpost to its new born aspirations”.
Struggle in the early years
During the its first decade of its existence, significant additions were made to the university: the Faculty of Law was established in 1924; Delhi College — which traced its history to the 17th century — was revived as Anglo-Arabic College that same year and was affiliated with DU (today’s Zakir Husain Delhi College); Commercial College, today’s Shri Ram College of Commerce — began in 1926; and Lady Irwin College was inaugurated in 1932.
In this transitional phase, the university shuffled between rented buildings — it was housed in the Ritz Cinema building, in Curzon House on Alipur Road, and in a portion of the Old Secretariat building. It was finally allotted its current home in the Viceregal Lodge and Estate near the Ridge in 1923. DU was beset with troubles in these early years. In her essay ‘The Foundation and Early History of Delhi University’ in the volume ‘Delhi Through The Ages’ (ed. R E Frykenberg), historian Aparna Basu wrote, “Delhi University had failed to receive any substantial measure of public confidence because of competition and rivalry between the colleges and because of internal strife and factionalism in university affairs.
“As a result the university played a very small part in the life of the capital and no part in the life of India as a whole. It did not attract undergraduate or postgraduate students from other parts of India, and had very little academic society of its own. It remained scarcely known outside Delhi, and even there, it inspired little confidence.”
Maurice Gwyer and his vision
In 1938, Sir Maurice Gwyer, who was appointed Vice-Chancellor in 1938 and after whom the university’s oldest men’s residence, Gwyer Hall, is named, presented a memorandum to the Government of India, outlining a vision for an all-India character for the university. Basu wrote that he conceived of DU as a “miniature Oxbridge” with a “cluster of small residential colleges around the core of the university”. According to Gwyer, “Such a University might and should prove one of the greatest unifying influences in the New India. It would promote the wider outlook which contact with the life of a capital city can alone provide; it would become a clearing house of ideas and of intellectual progress; and it might profoundly influence those who may in future become responsible for the Government of India.”
Among the measures Gwyer suggested were the establishment of a number of professorial chairs and readerships; scholarships to encourage “young men of real ability” to come to Delhi from different parts of India; the transfer of constituent colleges to the University area; and fixing three years as the length of the ordinary degree course. These had a lasting impact on the nature and character of the university.
St. Stephen’s moved to the new site of its college in what would become North Campus in 1942, and was soon followed by Hindu, Ramjas and SRCC.
Post Partition, growth and spread
With Partition, the city’s demography and character underwent major changes.
The need to accommodate displaced students from West Punjab led to the start of new colleges like Hansraj College (1948), SGTB Khalsa College (1951), Deshbandhu College (1952), and Kirori Mal College (1954).
As colleges were added over the years, some of the most recently founded were intended to cater to students living far from the centre of the university’s centres — Aditi Mahavidyalaya in Bawana, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College in Dwarka, Keshav Mahavidyalaya in Pitampura, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College in Yamuna Vihar.
Shinjini Ghosh, May 3, 2022: The Times of India
NEW DELHI: As Delhi University completes its 100th year of existence, the vision laid out by one of its pre-eminent vice-chancellors, Sir Maurice Gwyer, of the institution being a “field of ambition” has only gained more prominence. In August 1939, Sir Maurice had said in a memorandum to the government of India: “It (DU) should be a field of ambition, in which all classes, parties and creeds may labour together in a labour of love, working harmony for a common cause… Will the university command the lively sympathy and assistance of the public and be enabled to secure its place as a great ‘all-India’ institution?”
In his article, ‘The University of Delhi: A Field of Ambition’, former vice-chancellor Upendra Baxi noted that Sir Maurice’s memorandum related to a resource crisis for the university that had “practically lived from hand to mouth from 1922 till 1937”. Despite such straitened beginnings, a century later, several former VCs and academicians are satisfied that DU has secured its place as a “great pan-India institution”.
Speaking to TOI, Baxi, who was VC from 1990-94, says, “DU has played a very good role in maintaining a high standard of education and research. The thread lies with the students who come from all parts of the country. The university is a mini-India, a microcosm of cultures.”
What began with three colleges and 750 students in 1922 is today an institution of higher learning with 91 colleges and 86 departments and over seven lakh students. Stating that it was Sir Maurice’s vision that inspired DU’s evolution, Sydney R Rebeiro, DU’s first dean of alumni affairs, says. “It is a cardinal sin not to have given Gwyer his full, true and legitimate place in the history and tremendous evolution of Delhi. He was the one who brought the Oxford model of a three-year honours programme. With DU emerged the city of Delhi in many ways.”
Rebeiro also insisted that DU was not elitist. “Colleges like St Stephen’s, Hindu, Lady Shri Ram and Miranda House, among others, are elite and aristocratic in academia because they maintain high standards,” he says.
Over time, DU’s vice-chancellors have contributed greatly in enriching the processes of institutional expansion. As Baxi noted, “While the initiation of the idea of multi-campus development owes a great deal to Dr Sarup Singh, his successors have nurtured it to make DU a modern incarnation of the early institution, not just in terms of architecture of buildings but also in making the South Campus a site of many frontier disciplines in science.” The university, established as an institution for imperial knowledge, soon became a reflection of political and social change in India, says Santosh Rai, professor in DU’s department of history. “When the principal of St Stephen’s College became Gandhi’s host, it was apparent that DU would play a political role,” Rai says. “During the Quit India Movement, students of Indraprastha College for Women began participating in the freedom movement and a similar thing happened in Zakir Hussain College. The university gradually became a political space for the national movement. The real autonomy reflected not only in the statutes but also in actions and it was revolutionary.”
Highlighting how the university soon became the haven for the “best,” Rai adds, “British administrators like Gwyer emphasised on recruiting the best. When the best faculty was installed, the best students also followed. After independence, DU became a nationalist university. Its biggest asset is the pluralistic character which caters to all social groups and gender. Apart from vice-chancellors Gwyer and CD Deshmukh, vice-chancellor KN Raj was instrumental in introducing most of the ordinances and statues that democratised the administration. Another visionary VC, professor Dinesh Singh, wanted to follow an interdisciplinary approach and introduced the four-year undergraduate programme in 2013.” Emphasising that the university has kept pace with the times, Dinesh Singh, who was the VC from 2010 to 15, says, “The best quality of the university is that it attracts very talented students from all parts of the country and from all segments of society. DU generally gets the better crop of the country’s students most of the time. Over time, it has, thus, consistently remained one of the best universities. This is an important factor which keeps the university energetic and lively.”
Talking about the time he introduced the four-year undergraduate programme at DU, Dinesh Singh says, “During my tenure, my cherished dream of fully implementing the four-year undergraduate programme remained incomplete even though the four-year blueprint was fully in place. There are reasons that I do not wish to dwell upon that led to this. Fortunately, the four-year programme has returned now in near verbatim fashion and will likely do the nation a great deal of good.”
Rai says that the century has shown that DU is where it is on the strength of its curriculum, faculty’s knowledge and empowerment and the students’ capacity to adjust to rapid changes to the curriculum. “After a century of existence, the challenges before the university are: what is our vision for the future? Will we continue to cater to a plurality of students? And will the freedom that the faculty and students have been enjoying continue to remain or will we become another mere university?” asks Rai.
After a glorious 100 years, Delhi University’s aim is to now be among the 200 best universities in the world, asserted Yogesh Singh, incumbent vice-chancellor. “DU is a very old institution and it has served not only the people of India and the government of India, but also the entire humanity,” says Yogesh Singh. “It has done remarkably well in the last 100 years. It has participated actively in the growth and development of our country.”
The VC says now is the time to think of the university’s next 25 years to the time when DU would be 125 years old. “Where would we like DU to be? I think our first target is to be in the top 200 universities of the world,” says Yogesh Singh. “I know that will not be an easy achievement, but we have potential and the capacity to reach that milestone. What is more, we are already working in that direction.”
The VC adds, “We also have to strengthen our infrastructure. While one segment of this process is the restoration and renovation work — which has already begun on a war-footing — the other is the creation of new infrastructure. The starting of new projects worth Rs 1,000 crore is on the anvil.” Delhi University’s appetite to become a ‘field of ambition’, it appears, hasn’t diminished even after 100 years.
Shinjini.Ghosh , May 4, 2022: The Times of India
New Delhi: Whether it is Sir Maurice Gwyer’s vision in introducing the Oxbridge model at Delhi University leading to the introduction of the three-year honours programme or the introduction of the four-year undergraduate programme almost a century later, the university has played a pioneering role in higher education in several aspects.
While the establishment ofDelhi University in 1922 should beseen, according to professor Shalin Jain of DU’s history department, in the larger European epistemology, or thestudy of human knowledge, two vice-chancellorswho contributed to the institutions academic stature were Sir Maurice andDinesh Singh. “Gwyer not only redefined thegraduate curriculum, but also theinstitutional bodies and Singhhad a 21st century vision for DUand India,” explained Jain. “Thelatter’s vision is also reflected inthe National Education Policy,which is almost a verbatim reproduction of the four-year undergraduate programme introduced inDU in 2013. We require to democratise knowledge with interdisciplinary knowledge and FYUP wasthe first in that direction. ”Over the years, DU has not onlystrengthened itself academicallyin the country, but the establishment of the international divisionhas also added new dimensions totranscontinental relations withforeign universities after 1995. According to a 2003 universitydocument, “The virtual launch ofthis university’s internationalacademic services was in September 1998 when about 15 DU scholarsselected through due academicadministrative processes by departments left the shores of Indiato attend programmes for a termor semester in the University ofCalifornia, beyond the Atlantic. ”Referring to the several MoUssigned with universities acrossthe world, the document adds,“These envisage faculty and student exchange on semester or session basis, where the heavy financial burden caused by sharp imbalance in forex rates will also be reduced to the extent possible. ”Academics and research apart,the university over time has alsohelped students gain experiential knowledge andprodded them to discoverthemselves, said MalashriLal, former dean of colleges and academic activities. “Several learning curves were introduced, including innovation projects,” recalled Lal. “We identified the needfor undergraduate students to gain experiential knowledge andover 900 students and 100 facultyand staff had been a part of fiveGyanodyay Express journeys. ”Lal, an English professor, saidgroups of students are sent to different parts of the country on the Gyanodyay Express train journey forexperiential learning. “Apart fromgeographical discovery, culturaldiscovery is also important. Manystudents were travelling for the firsttime without their families. Thetrips ended up being about discovering the country and enhancementof personality and relations withthe peer group. Students also imbibed multiculturalism,” said Lal. A decade ago, DU also began innovative projects to help undergrads understand the value of research. As Lal remembered thefirst forays. “Each project group had 10 students from different disciplines and teachers teaching different subjects. This ensured a multi-institutional and multidi- sciplinary approach,” said Lal. “While one group worked on how to track pollution, another looked at the economy of Delhi’s weekly markets. There was a great deal of emphasis on data analysis also because then VC Dinesh Singh said that students must back up what they’re saying with data. ”
Stating that a strong desire to excel was a precondition for DU’s forward movement, Deepak Pental, VC between 2005 and 2010, said, “DU’s contribution to the education system has been huge. But it is crucial for the desire for excellence to exist. We passed the proposal for a four-year undergrad programme during my tenure, but did not go forward with it because we thought it should be done at a national level. Only now are we doing that. However, the time has passed when students were pigeon-holed into set programmes and courses. DU has a good faculty to teach all kinds of programmes and they need to have an open mind about this. ”
Recognising the need for a flexible system for students, incumbent VC Yogesh Singh said that beyond the implementation of NEP and FYUP, the university also plans to provide more options to students in designing their own programmes. “After successfully implementing FYUP, we want to open it up further,” said Singh. “Students should be able to customise their degree courses. It may not be easy immediately, but if we are successful in the major-minor concept under the four-year concept, which we will be, then we should be able to implement that as well. There should be total flexibility in the system. ”
Singh added, “People say that students are not experienced enough to make such choices. But their seniors, teachers and others are there to assist. Based on interest, capabilities and aptitude, they should be able to customise their degrees. There should also be a provision for them to change their courses. Students can earn a degree based on courses of their choice and combination. ”
Four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP)
Sequence of events 2013-14
Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh's attempt to synchronise DU's undergraduate course with international norms met with fierce resistance and the FYUP was scuttled in June 2014 after a year-long conflict between its supporters and opponents.
Here is the background and sequence of events:
10 things you must know about Delhi University’s four-year undergraduate programme
The Times of India TNN | Jun 25, 2014
Since 2013, Delhi University's four-year undergraduate programme has been in the news for various reasons. City-wide protests by students and teacher organizations, the fact that DU in fact admitted students into the programme in 2013 despite the uproar, and finally the stepping in of University Grants Commission (UGC) to scrap FYUP are the key highpoints underlining this controversial programme.
In June 2014, Delhi University colleges, slowly but surely started switching back from the controversial four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) to the three-year course. 57 of the university's 64 colleges quietly communicated to UGC that they were moving back to the three-year course.
Here are 10 facts about the controversy surrounding DU's FYUP programme:
1) The Delhi high court in June 2014 fixed the petition on the FYUP-UGC issue for hearing on July 1.
2) 57 of the university's 64 colleges have 'quietly' communicated to UGC that they were moving back to the three-year course. These colleges include Hindu College, Lady Shri Ram, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Miranda House, Venkateswara and Kirori Mal. UGC followed up by asking DU authorities to immediately write to these colleges to begin admission under the three-year programme.
3) Meanwhile, UGC's missive to DU to ask colleges to begin admission under the three-year course could result in another war of nerves. Late in the evening, VC Dinesh Singh, pro-VC Sudesh Pachauri, registrar Alka Sharma and other officials reportedly met to plan their next move. University authorities, sources said, refused to take UGC's latest letter.
4) Responding to the anxiety of BTech students, whose course will be scrapped under the three-year graduation system, UGC said, "Students who feel they will be denied a BTech degree if the three-year course is introduced should not worry. Their interest will be fully safeguarded. They are being egged on by the DU authorities to agitate."
5) Delhi University administration's refusal to officially clarify anything relating to the current admission mess is leaving many DU hopefuls — especially those from other cities-in the lurch. DU admissions were to begin on June 24.
6) The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a petition challenging the University Grants Commission's direction to Delhi University to scrap the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP). Instead, a bench comprising Justices Vikramjit Sen and S K Singh suggested to the petitioner, Aditya Narayan Mishra, who is an assistant professor at Aurobindo College, to approach Delhi high court first.
7) Delhi University VC Dinesh Singh's fate hangs in the balance as it is not clear whether he has resigned or not. DU spokesman Malay Neerav texted a one-line message which said, "VC has resigned". This was followed by 'news' of the resignations of DU proVC Sudesh Pachauri and dean Umesh Rai. Since the VC's resignation had to come to the HRD ministry, officials there got into a huddle to finalize their next move. But as minutes and hours went by, Singh's resignation did not reach the ministry. "DU VC is playing a mind-game and successfully managed to spend another day without bothering about the fate of students," said a ministry official.
8) Protests continue to take place in DU. Those in favour of FYUP want to keep the pressure on; so they — mainly teachers' group like Academics for Action and Development (Aditya Mishra) — sat on a hunger strike. As news of the VC's resignation — which later turned out to be dubious — spread, there were celebrations and exchange of congratulatory messages.
9) Many are shocked at UGC's U-turn on FYUP that came into force in the last academic session. UGC along with a set of HRD officials, led by present education secretary Ashok Thakur, was at the forefront of celebrating FYUP last year. Not long ago, UGC chairperson Ved Prakash at a function in DU campus showered praise on VC Dinesh Singh and FYUP.
10) There seems to be no agreement between the central and state leaderships of Congres on the issue of rollback of FYUP. Senior Congres leader Ghulam Nabi Azad described UGC's directive as a decision taken in "haste" while another Congres leader, Manish Tewari, accused the NDA-led Central government of "trampling (on) and trifling (with)" the autonomy of a premium academic institution like Delhi University.
How the FYUP was scuttled: June 2014
Old letter won UGC FYUP war
Akshaya Mukul New Delhi
The Times of India Jun 28 2014
In the war of nerves that played out for a week, a single letter of July 30, 2013 written by a junior HRD ministry official to the registrar of Delhi University helped the University Grants Commission win the battle over the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP). In the letter, the junior woman official raised questions that seniors in the minis try had overlooked or willfully ignored. Reminding the registrar that ordinances of university are submitted to university court and the visitor after the approval of the executive council, she told the university that it was not clear if approval of the EC in May and June, 2013 was placed before the university court.
She also told DU registrar that Baccalaureate degree under FYUP exists in booklet of ordinances despite the fact that the university had informed the ministry that such a degree is being dropped. DU was asked to clarify on these matters and also send resolution of the academic council/executive council and university court on the amendments to the ordinanc es. On its part, the DU administration chose to completely disregard the ministry’s letter. Visitor’s approval would not have happened without these documents.
It also made FYUP illegal.
In the current imbroglio, every time UGC asked DU to furnish proof of Visitor’s approval or reply to HRD’s communication of July 30, 2013, university obfuscated it by stating that it is a Left conspiracy. “We were on facts, DU alleged conspiracy. We knew it will be a tough battle. DU ignored our repeated directives and tried to expand the scope of the subject by bringing in issues extraneous to FYUP. For commission it was an illegal course and had to be scrapped,” one UGC official said.
However, on Thursday, UGC nearly succumbed to the proposal of some academicians considered close to vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh. The proposal was for blending three-year undergraduate courses with FYUP. After intense discussion, the commission felt that in the larger interest of students it should accept the proposal for three-years honours/pass course and keep some courses, especially in science and technology, under FYUP.
After being finalized, UGC’s reply was shown to a lawyer who asked how can the commission declare FYUP to be illegal on one hand and accept parts of it on the other. More discussions followed and it was decided that DU proposal should be rejected completely. UGC took few more hours to firm up its directive to DU. With students and teachers agitating on the streets and more than a lakh admission-seekers facing Delhi heat and uncertainty in DU, the university administration finally succumbed on the morning of June 27.
BATTLEFIELD CAMPUS|Jul 14 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)
2019: Article on Naxalism junked, concessions in other subjects
Mohammad Ibrar, August 2, 2019: The Times of India
For the third time, an article by sociologist Nandini Sundar has been removed from the syllabus of Delhi University where she teaches. The professor’s 2011 article titled ‘At War with Oneself: Constructing Naxalism as India’s Biggest Security Threat’ was included in Michael Kugelman’s ‘India’s Contemporary Security Challenges’. The political science department has removed it from its syllabus. This was revealed in a document accessed by TOI that was submitted to the university’s Executive Council (EC) on July 20.
The English, history and sociology departments have also revised their syllabi for DU’s learning outcome-based curriculum framework after a series of protests by members of the right-wing National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF) and ABVP.
Sunil Sharma, member of DU’s Academic Council (AC) and NDTF, had objected to Sundar’s article in an AC meeting on July 16. He had said, “In the political science syllabus, Naxalism has been shown as a social movement despite the government banning all Maoist organisations. It is urban Naxals like Nandini Sundar who put this in the syllabus to sully the minds of young students. It is not a social movement but a violent and bloody movement.”
Responding to the news, Sundar said, “Whoever is objecting is not objecting on academic grounds. I have nothing more to say.” She added that along with her piece, the entire aspect on the Maoist movement had been removed from syllabus—a fact borne out by the documents accessed by TOI that says that a whole sub-unit on ‘Maoist Challenge’ was removed.
But Sharma said they had an “academic argument” and “we informed that Naxalism should not be taught due to its bloody nature”.
A member of the political science department confirmed the development to TOI but the department head did not respond to queries.
The fracas over syllabus started on July 11 when contents of four course were objected to by NDTF members during a meeting of the standing committee on academic matters. In the July 16 AC meeting, there was ruckus with ABVP members entering the venue as well, protesting against “leftist” content in the syllabus.
BA history honours syllabus was hauled up for a paper on ‘Left Movements; Peasants’ and Workers’ Movements’. According to the EC document, it has been split into two — ‘The Indian Left’ and ‘Peasants’ and Workers’ Movements’. Sunil Kumar, head of history, said, “A course can always be improved. But this revision has been made into a negative process as it is due to politics.”
Since the opponents claimed the sociology syllabus had a “lack of Indian ethos”, the department added ‘Idea of India during Ancient Times’ and ‘Nation Building in India’ as part of its core papers.
The English department has also revised its syllabus. It has dropped a Gujarat riots story, shifted the ‘Literature and Caste’ paper from core to optional, and also removed readings from the Puranas in the ‘Interrogating Queerness’ paper, the latter because it was accused of hurting religious sentiments.
“We have passed the syllabus twice through the faculty and the committee of courses. I am hopeful that the oversight committee will approve the syllabus,” said English department head Raj Kumar.
The final call on the syllabus will be taken by the oversight committee. Maharaj K Pandit, the head of the committee, told TOI, “We have received the syllabus from the departments on Wednesday and we will review and come out with a final decision in the next couple of days.”
A historic overview: 1926-2022
May 23, 2022: The Times of India
It was the mid-1960s. KabirBedi had joined St Stephen’s College as a studentof history and became amember of its famed Shakespeare Society. He was soonbusy with acting, directingand producing numerous plays — but one particular performance stands out in hismemory. “My production ofJulius Caesar had Kapil Sibalas Caesar, while I played thelowly Roman character Casca. Later, a students’ magazine commented that Caesarhad been murdered twice —once by Brutus and the otherby Sibal,” he chuckled. Over the decades, DelhiUniversity has been the training ground for manypassionate young actors who-’ve made a mark in the worldof film, television and theatre. From Bedi, AmitabhBachchan and Shah RukhKhan to Lilette Dubey, ManojBajpayee and Konkona SenSharma, DU’s college dramatics societies have launchednumerous careers. Even today, many creditthe university with helpingthem realise their love for theperforming arts. “DU had avery active, thriving and vibrant theatre scene, with great productions and actorssuch as Roshan Seth and hisbrother Aftab. They were formative years and the university shaped me in many waysto become the person I became,” said Bedi. In his final year, Bedi fractured his spine while rehearsing in a play at Miranda House, which resulted in him missing his exams. “The play wascalled ‘See How They Run’. While running off the stage, Imissed my footing, did a somersault and landed on myback. I had to lie flat on myback on a plank for threemonths,” he recalled. The accident didn’t deter Bedi fromtheatre. In fact, he joined Delhi theatre doyen Joy Michael’s Yatrik group after recovery and even directed a shortplay for it. Shakespeare Society wascreated in 1926. DuringBedi’s years, plays were largely in English by the likes ofOscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare. “Idid my first Indian play onlyafter I went to Bombay and acted in Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq,” he said. After Miranda House wasstarted as an all-girls college in 1948, St Stephen’s only admitted boys from 1949 to 1975. The two colleges often provided male and female actorsfor each other’s productions. This is why Bedi often actedwith designer Ritu Kumar,politician Brinda Karat (thenDas) and her sister Radhika,and also performed at LadyIrwin College. “It was a timeof wonderful friendships, learning, debating, acting and,of course, flirting,” he said. This tradition of jointproductions continued evenlater. In her memoir Sach Kahun Toh, Neena Gupta writesabout meeting Satish Kaushik through common friends,while studying at the girlsonly Janki Devi MemorialCollege in the mid-1970s. Kaushik, a senior whostudied at the boys-only Kiro- ri Mal College, was lookingfor women to act in his production, Mohan Rakesh’sAadhe Adhure. After working together, they becamegood friends and Gupta followed Kaushik at NationalSchool Drama. “We were bothfrom very humble middleclass backgrounds, both passionate about drama with parents who were supportive,but also sceptical about ourcareer choice,” she wrote. KMC’s dramatics society,The Players, counts many talented actors and directorsamong its alumni, includingBachchan, Vijay Raaz, RaviBaswani, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, and the recent talents,Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub,Sushant Singh and directorsKabir Khan, Vijay KrishnaAcharya and Ali Abbas Zafar. Ayyub, who has acted infilms such as “No One KilledJessica” and “Mission Mangal”, said it wasn’t just a coincidence that nearly one-thirdof his peers went on to pursuecareers in this field. “Eventhough we weren’t earningany money, we were all focused on our art and learningmore. When we reached college, we’d go to the auditoriumrather than class so in a way Igraduated in theatre ratherthan Bsc,” he added.
Most productions wereadaptations of classics such as“Lord of the Flies” in Hindi,but the play closest to his heartwas “Dhappa”, in which hebagged the lead role for thefirst time. “It was the story of aschool student and a commenton the education system. Itwas the first time I went on sta- ge, which gave me a lot of confidence that I could become anactor,” said Ayyub. Even during inter-collegiate competitions, there was aspirit of learning. “We neverthought about why they gotthe award, but discussed ways to make plays better withother college teams. It was life-changing. I was an engineering aspirant from Okhlaand never thought I could create anything, but DU made itpossible,” Ayyub said. He also credits The Players’ veteran staff advisor Keval Arora, who helmed thegroup for over four decades. Past and present memberscontinue to be connected on aWhatsApp group, and someyears ago many joined a funding drive to repair their beloved college auditorium. At Hindu College, the drama scene was very vibrant,recalled actor Tisca Chopra,who studied English there inthe early 1990s. “All of us werefull of energy,acting in Chekhov and Shakespeare or attempting thegreat classicswith huge enthusiasm. Westitched clothes,made props anddid the lightingand music all by ourselves,”she said. Chopra also wrote, directed and produced her ownplays. “We had a play calledDTC bus and another called 363, named after the bus Itook from Noida to NorthCampus. There was a play weperformed in the canteenusing tables and street playson women’s rights,” she said. Chopra’s contemporaries included actor Arjun Rampaland director Imtiaz Ali, whowent on to start the Hindidramatics society “Ibtida” acouple of years later, and returned to the college to shoothis film “Rockstar”. The actor, who turned director during the pandemic,said the seeds of her careerwere sown in college. “I knewI was going to do somethingin the performing arts, butbeing a part of the dramaticssociety made sure it was acting,” said Chopra. Lady Shri Ram College’sdramatics society, too, boastsof illustrious alumni such asLilette and Lushin DubeySakshi Tanwar, Rasika Dugaland Tilottama Shome. Shome, who made her debut in Mira Nair’s “MonsoonWedding” just before shestarted her master’s degreein English literature at DU,said the hallowed auditoriumof Lady Shri Ram College,where she studied Englishfrom 1996 to 1999, was “the place where it all began”. “Piyush Mishra put us ina spell as he moved from onecharacter to another in hisone man show. I was hookedto this magical world, but itwas the seniors of the Dramatic Society, the sisterhood ofincredibly powerful women,that harnessed that awe intoopportunities to express myself,” she recalled. As part of the dramaticssociety, she often went for inter-college festivals at Pilaniand Kirori Mal College andalso joined Asmita Theatre. Shome’s contemporaries andseniors included puppeteerAnurupa Roy,film directorMeenu Gaurand actor AditiRao Hydari. Shome’smost cherishedrole from thisperiod was thestage version ofBibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay’s “PatherPanchali”. “The part of Sarbojaya became my shield, behind which I began to transform from the stammeringyoung woman to someonewho had found somethingelemental in spite of herself. While this was in English, wealso did Hindi plays and a lotof street theatre of the agitprop kind,” she said. Bedi, who went on to star in the James Bond film “Octopussy”, Italian TV shows and thepopular soap opera “The Boldand The Beautiful”, said he never expected to become an actordespite his love for the stage. “Nobody in those daysthought of becoming an actorand after St Stephen’s, theyeither joined the administrative service or some big multinational company. But college helped me realise my love for acting and theatre, developed my craft, got meplays in Bombay with AlyquePadamsee, and, in turn, led tomy becoming an actor in Bollywood and going abroad,”Bedi recalled.
Savarkar, Bose and Bhagat’s busts installed without permission
Shradha Chettri & Mohammad Ibrar, August 21, 2019: The Times of India
Students walking to their classes in the arts faculty at Delhi University on Tuesday morning might have wondered about the flurry of activity behind a tent at the gate. It was only at lunch break did they discover that behind the green sheets was a sandstone pedestal topped by the white marble busts of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose. By then, the university was already in a tizzy, for the statues had been erected without permission of the civic authorites or the university.
The DU authorities were informed of the “unveiling” of the statues around 9am. The busts atop the lotus capital of the pillar had apparently been installed by Shakti Singh, the outgoing president of Delhi University Students Union (Dusu). Tuesday was the last day of his tenure.
Police were called in and the North Delhi Municipal Corporation informed too. But the civic body did not take action, its commissioner Varsha Joshi explaining that “there was too big a crowd there for us to inspect and come to any conclusion”. The university asked Singh to have the statues removed, but did not make an official statement except to say that action was being mulled against the Dusu president.
Singh’s parent organisation, ABVP, did not support the act. Ashutosh Singh, mediain-charge of the R S S-affiliated student organisation, however, said, “Dusu and ABVP are ready to have the statues removed from their current site, but only if the DU administration earmarks a respectful location for them on the campus.”
No permissions, Dusu prez ‘ready to face action’
Highlighting the clandestine nature of the statues’ erection, a senior municipal corporation official explained that to install a statue on public land, it was mandatory to get the permission of a committee headed by the mayor. In the absence of such a permission, the installation had been carried out in a furtive manner.
A tent had been put up at the gate and filled with chairs and tables. While everyone thought an event was being organised, the red sandstone pedestal was quietly raised. Singh disclosed that the busts were sculpted in Delhi, but did not reveal the cost incurred and the time taken to have them made. The black granite plaque on the pedestal has the name of Singh and August 20 as the installation date inscribed on it, though both Singh’s name and August are misspelled.
While Singh said that the statues of Bhagat Singh, Netaji and Savarkar had been put up in consultation with the students, left-wing student group AISA and Congressbacked NSUI condemned the move, especially the clubbing of Bhagat Singh and Bose with Savarkar. The outgoing union president said he was ready to face any action the university was thinking of taking against him. “Hum rasthravichar dhara seh atey hai (we have a nationalistic ideology),” he said. “To respect the acts of Bhagat Singh who was hanged at 25, Netaji who went to a foreign land and formed a liberation army and Savarkarji who was sentenced to 50 years of imprisonment by an international court, I am ready to suffer any punishment.” Narrating the backstory, Singh claimed, “When I became Dusu president, I learnt that there was a room in the vice-chancellor’s office where Bhagat Singh had been confined to for nine days before his hanging. It took us a lot of effort to visit the place. We requested that the university should have his statue.”
Singh said that at a meeting vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi on March 13, he had reiterated the need to erect a statue of these three figures.
“We got no response, so we met him again on March 18 and told him about our plans on the statues. The VC praised me for the initiative,” he claimed.
“I again wrote a letter, but got no response. Since today was my last day, I had to take concrete strong steps.”
Savarkar bust removed
August 25, 2019: The Times of India
Savarkar bust removed from DU campus
The busts of Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose, installed at Delhi University’s Arts Faculty on August 20, were removed early Saturday. While the ABVP claimed that they assisted the administration in removing the busts, the DU administration denied that it had anything to do with it. Outgoing DUSU president Shakti Singh, who had put up the busts, called a protest march against the removal of busts that he claimed were carried out by the university authorities.
VC vs. pro-VC
Shradha Chettri, October 22, 2020: The Times of India
The drama of the absurd unfolded at Delhi University with two vice-chancellors, two registrars and two directors of South Campus in the saddle at the same time. Or so it seemed, shorn of the legalities. This was the fallout of a power tussle between vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi and pro vice-chancellor P C Joshi which threatens to disrupt the functioning of the university.
VC Yogesh Tyagi approved — and through the joint registrar (establishment) — notified the appointment of PC Jha of the department of operational research as director, South Campus, and acting registrar. “He is being appointed in place of Suman Kundu of the department of biochemistry with immediate effect,” the letter read.
Kundu had been appointed by Joshi in the absence of Tyagi, who was undergoing medical treatment.
Pro VC cannot preside over an EC meeting: DU teachers
Joshi had himself been appointed by Tyagi as pro VC on June 28. The position is co-terminus with that of the VC. Going by the university statute, the pro VC looks after the day-to-day functioning in the absence of the VC.
As Jha took over as registrar, he postponed the executive council meeting scheduled for Wednesday. In his letter, he said the agenda items has not been revised as asked for by the competent authority, i.e. the VC.
Joshi, however, had other plans. He wrote a letter to Jha, titled “Illegal occupation of registrar office”. It read: “You are hereby directed to vacate the office of the registrar, which has been illegally occupied by you since the morning of October 21. The act on your part is hampering the functioning of the university. In case you are not vacating the office immediately (sic), you will be forcibly moved out of office and action initiated against you.”
He signed the letter as “vice-chancellor (acting)”. Meanwhile, police landed up at the Viceregal Lodge, which houses the VC’s office. Nothing came of it. “The acting vice-chancellor is appointed by the visitor of the university, who is President of India. No such appointment has been made. And, when the appointed VC is still in office, why is there a need for an acting VC?” asked a university official who didn’t wish to be quoted. Undeterred by the new registrar’s letter, Joshi went ahead with the EC meeting. The agenda included appointment of registrar and finance officer, promotions in various departments, and appointment of principals in many colleges. According to sources, the EC had to also nominate two members for the search committee for appointment of the new vice-chancellor. Tyagi’s term ends in March 2021.
At the meeting, Joshi notified that Vikash Gupta was to be appointed as registrar and Girish Ranjan as finance officer. A resolution was moved that Kundu will function as director, South Campus, and registrar till permanent/ new appointees joined the university.
Teachers and former members of the statutory body said that a pro VC cannot preside over an EC meeting. An EC meeting had been stopped midway on October 10 as well. Shriram Oberoi, former DUTA president who has now retired, said: “As far as the law is concerned, vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi is still in his post and not on leave. Statue 11 H (5) states that “subject to the control and supervision of the vice-chancellor, the pro vicechancellor shall perform such duties and exercise such functions and powers as the vice-chancellor may specify generally or in individual cases and shall assist the vice-chancellor on all matters academic and administrative. This means that for a pro VC to chair a meeting of EC, the VC’s authorisation is needed, and that has not happened.”
Joshi didn’t respond to several calls and messages. Tyagi too didn’t respond to messages.
Speaking to TOI, the new registrar, Jha, said: “P C Joshi is a pro vice-chancellor and no one has appointed him as acting vice-chancellor. Since the morning, Prof Tyagi has also appointed OSD, programme implementation; joint OSD, vice-chancellor office; and a consultant in special project. All this is being done by vested interests. As a registrar, I am the member secretary and I did not attend this EC meeting which cannot be put on record.”
The academic community was critical of the entire row. “This is absolutely the worst day in the history of the university. Vice-chancellor Yogesh Tyagi should have attended the meeting today. Had he formed a stable team for nearly four and a half years, such a situation wouldn’t have arisen,” said Ashwini Shanker, chairman of INTEC, a teachers’ group. “After a long time, promotions had begun in the university and its colleges, an issue that is now hanging fire. The visitor of this university must intervene and uphold the rightful claims of the officials.”
DUTA president Rajib Ray said: “The university can be governed only through the provisions of its act and statutes. Prof Yogesh Tyagi should take responsibility or else allow the university to be governed by other officials as mandated by the act. The university cannot be pushed into a mess.”
Stories by SC writers dropped from Eng syllabus
Shradha Chettri, August 26, 2021: The Times of India
‘Draupadi’, a story by Mahashweta Devi, and the writings of Bama Faustina Soosairaj and Sukirtharani, both Tamil Dalit feminist writers, were removed from the English syllabus in Delhi University. Despite the resistance of 15 elected members, the Academic Council approved the chop.
Some teachers expressed surprise at this decision of the university’s oversight committee which they allege had no representatives from the English department, the head of the department being only a special invitee. The panel considers syllabus changes that are contentious.
Mithuraaj Dhusiya, AC member who signed the dissent note on the syllabus change, claimed, “The restructuring of the syllabus has been ongoing and has been democratically done at various levels. A year ago, the AC formed the oversight committee to look at controversial syllabus changes. But the committee does not have a locus standi to alter anything. There were political reasons for removing certain texts. We 15 elected members expressed dissent, but the English changes were still approved.”
The dissent note reads, “In a core paper titled Women’s Writing in semester V, the oversight committee has committed the maximum vandalism. It first decided to remove two Dalit authors, namely Bama and Sukirtharani, who were replaced by upper-caste writer Ramabai. Second, the committee, as an afterthought, suddenly asked for the deletion of the celebrated short story of Mahasweta Devi, ‘Draupadi’.”
M K Pandit, chairman of the oversight committee, asserted, “The oversight committee is appointed by the Executive Council, the highest decisionmaking body of the university, and is an empowered committee. This panel has been working for over six years now and was specifically created to look at matters of syllabuses particularly when the AC and EC meetings aren’t held.”
Dhusiya described ‘Draupadi’ as a seminal text discussing the exploitation of tribal women. “It is in the syllabus since 1999 and is a part of the UGC template. We don’t know why DU removed it,” she said. ‘Sultana’s Dreams’, a short story, has replaced it.
The dissent note added, “In a discipline-specific elective paper titled ‘Pre-colonial Indian Literatures’, the oversight committee has instructed the department to replace ‘Chandrabati Ramayana’ with Tulsidas, thus removing a feminist reading of the Ramayana. Similarly, in another DSE paper titled ‘Interrogating Queerness’, the committee has arbitrarily deleted sections from the units at the expense of the academic rigour of the paper.”
In 2019, there was controversy over the removal and alteration of English texts on the riots in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar from the reading list. In history too, there was an objection to Naxalism being taught as part of the ‘Democracy at Work’ paper. In sociology, a chapter from Nandini Sundar’s Subalterns and Sovereign: An Anthropological History of Bastarran into trouble, but was later retained.