Ramjas College

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India Today

CITY: New Delhi

Founded in 1917 by educationist-philanthropist Rai Kedar Nath, Ramjas College is one of the oldest colleges of Delhi. The college today boasts of a spacious campus, state-of-the-art infrastructure and an esteemed faculty of scholars trained at leading universities in India and abroad. It was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in its old campus at Anand Parbat. Many students of the college also participated in the Non Cooperation Movement.


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2016-17: Centenary celebrations

Deeksha Teri, January 19, 2017: The Hindu

Ramjas College under the University of Delhi saw scenes of laughter, fun and frolic as the institute concluded its year-long centenary celebrations. Ramjas College, situated on the North Campus, kick-started their celebration last January as the college completed 100 years of fulfilling their promise of quality education. “History of the 21st century will be written in Asia and Ramjas will contribute tremendously to that history,” said Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the college Principal.

Eventful lead-up

Ramjas College has had an eventful year with concerts, events, academic seminars etc. as part of their year-long celebration on entering its 100th year on January 17, 2016. “The energy that you see in Ramjasites, the zest with which we have celebrated our century, unifying each strata and every section of the society,” said Saguna Puri Singh, Centennial Coordinator.

The centennial celebrations started on January 17, 2016 with a small inaugural event. Former L-G of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, inaugurated the celebrations on January 18, 2016 by hoisting the college flag and unveiling the 100 years logo. Alumni of the college were invited to participate in the celebrations throughout the year. The highlight of the celebrations last year was the ‘buggy ride’ arranged for the students in which students took to North Campus and spread the word about the celebrations.

Artists like Astitva, Papon and the college band, Rangrez put in folk and fusion performances.

“There are certain things you want to carry forward from parts of your life, this centenary year has been wonderful and I will cherish these moments throughout my life,” said Utkarsh Raj, a student of Ramjas College.

Events feature celebrities

The celebrations were not limited to the month of January. An Indian musical night, Malhar, was organised on August 19, 2016. Similarly, an event titled ‘Centennial Dialogues’ was also organised which saw the participation of the alumni and staff, along with famous personalities like Ramchandra Guha, Saleem Kidwai, Saeed Naqvi and Shanney. Events like ‘Mosaic’ and ‘Rock on Concert’ were organised which saw the presence of bollywood stars like Alia Bhatt, Siddharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan and Farhan Akhtar. The students got a chance to interact with sports stars like Gautam Gambhir, Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat.

The art of resistance

Saleem Kidwai , The Art of Resistance “ India Today “ 13/3/2017

iIt was deja vu time. Amit Baruah, a former student of Ramjas College, dropped in for lunch. On his mind was his daughter Anushka, now a student at Ramjas. She was trapped in the seminar room under attack. Through the afternoon, as we reminisced about the 1980s, when Amit had been a student, she kept texting her father updates as the afternoon turned more violent. Even though she was under siege in a room with shattered glass panes, she kept reassuring her father that she was fine. I'm sure she will be. This baptism by fire will leave her stronger, more enlightened, as it did her father and his contemporaries years ago. When I joined Ramjas in 1973, it was by far the roughest college on campus. Overrun by rival student gangs, the college administrators bought peace with them as did the cops in charge of the university. The girl students would move through the college scared, in tight huddles. The college authorities thought it best not to hire lady lecturers. There was a single woman lecturer when I joined.

Things came to a head in the early 1980s, when my colleague Dilip Simeon, who was agitating against the victimisation of an elderly mali, was attacked to within an inch of his life by goons. Ramjas College erupted in protest. Students and staff from other colleges rallied around. Even though the culprits had confessed to their guilt in private, the courts did not find them guilty. The powers that be have always used goondagardi as an excuse and an option to suppress any dissent or questioning.

However, the movement against goondagardi radicalised an entire generation of students, not just in Ramjas but across the university. Without it, they might have spent their years uneventfully and 'peacefully'. Instead, they learnt life lessons that could never be taught in a classroom-that they must resist violence, in all its forms, peacefully. I can't help think of another deja vu moment from February 1988, when a meeting to be addressed by the late Bhisham Sahni, the author of Tamas was threatened by the ABVP. The meeting was successfully held because of the determination of the students and some faculty to resist intimidation. Matters have clearly deteriorated.

The movement against goondagardi made Ramjas a great place to work, for it created a bond between the teachers and students. It forced us into honest retrospection about our role as teachers and as students. It became much easier to inculcate in the students a spirit of independent thinking and the courage to question as well as experiment within the confines of academia. For instance, when the history syllabus was radically revised, the faculty of Ramjas along with some faculty members of Hindu, Miranda and IP colleges decided to pool our specialisation-resources and hold joint classes in each other's colleges. From the time when female students of Ramjas College felt afraid to the time when female students of other women's colleges came to attend classes in the college was a huge step forward towards the creation of a peaceful, academic and democratic space in Ramjas. Today, nearly half the faculty are women, and at stake is the reputation of Ramjas as a safe space for women. We also realised that the process of questioning authority had to begin with ourselves. A student-faculty committee was set up within the history department, where students could be critical of the faculty. Similarly, pressure was built within the staff association to force teachers who preferred not to take classes to opt for retirement. This student-faculty collaboration did cause some heartburn, but the morality of the demand could never be openly questioned.

The charges of being anti-national against my former colleagues Mukul Manglik and Vinita Chandra (as well as Nivedita Menon of JNU) would be laughable if they weren't ominous. In times where threats of rape are used to enforce 'nationalism', it is teachers like them that the nation needs, more than ever.

Historian, author and translator Saleem Kidwai taught at Ramjas between 1973 and 1993.

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