PHOTOGRAPH: Sapna Mathur

LSR: The Promised Land

“There is a place, like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery and danger! Some say to survive it you need to be as mad as a hatter”

Mad Hatter’s statement in Alice in Wonderland is a fitting reference to Lady Shri Ram College for Women. Entering LSR seems like a dive into a vast sea of oestrogen to the untrained eye of a new student who has only been educated in co-ed schools. A discovery channel enthusiast may compare the first day at college to visiting a zoo where the cliques/herds of different animals are clearly segmented and the survival is only of the fittest. A new student is like a lost sheep trying to find its way around the college campus while simultaneously wondering what differentiates a canteen from a café.

PHOTOGRAPH: Sapna Mathur

A day that begins at 8.45am and ends at 4pm with back to back classes is not what one has in mind when they picture college especially if they have grown up watching Karan Johar movies. It takes about a week into college to realize that one has been tricked by their mother as the 12th std. board exams are definitely not the last time one has to study with superior concentration.

For an outstation student settling into a new city, a new college can be tiresome. Parents, friends, distant relatives and the media don’t leave any stones unturned in making sure that you arrive in the rape capital of the country armed with a pepper spray and a prejudiced mind.

The stereotypes people create precedes them; contrary to popular belief the favourite hobby of men in Delhi is not rape just like the conversation in a girls college and more specifically LSR doesn’t always revolve around hair, shoes, boys and nail paint. Surprising as it may be male bashing and feminism are not compulsory concurrent courses offered in our curriculum.

Jokes about the sexual deprivation of the students of LSR which were once only a feature of lunch time conversations of college students have now become a part of stand-up comedy acts of Vir Das. Ironically, LSR students find these jokes equally amusing. The lack of testosterone in college leads to women dropping all their pretensions (almost). Thus, the sight of women dressed in their snow man printed pyjamas soaking up the winter sun while sipping on some hot chocolate is not an unusual one. It is hard to fathom that these unglamorous pyjama clad girls were once the inspiration behind the Punjabi rap song ‘Kudi LSR Di’ by the Triple Aces.

Touted as one of the best colleges in the country, the atmosphere at LSR is a competitive one. In throes of self-pity students often think of the college as a ‘military boot camp’ and imagine their over achieving classmates as hamsters on steroids running an endless race. But it is these very people who constitute the mystical ‘magic of LSR’. When existential and economic crisis seem to get the better of us it is these people who come to our rescue as we try and find catharsis in mulling over about our fleeting woes together. The differences in our personalities, ethnicities and interests brings us together as we try to find our individual niche in the protective bubble that is LSR.

Living in Delhi and studying in LSR are both acquired tastes. Sure, the winters are harsh and the curriculum is taxing but they both grow on you with time. There is a method to the madness in this city and in this college; all you have to do is discover it in the process of discovering yourself.

Pragya Lal 

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

58 thoughts on “LSR: The Promised Land

  1. Anon

    Unfortunately, the one important thing LSR’s students don’t do well is taking criticism without either getting offended, or offending the critic in return. Academically speaking, the institution is on a decline. And when I’m speaking of academics, I’m not speaking of university scores (it’s easy enough for anyone with basic, CBSE-type intelligence to do well). I’m speaking of the lack of original academic work. Nothing of academic value has been produced- no innovative papers, no good written work has emerged for years now. And that was LSR’s strength some years back.

  2. Cow

    Hi Anon. We love criticism and would love to improve. Please do link to us to some of your academic work for inspiration. :)

    Brilliantly written Pragya Lal :)

  3. Anon

    Lol, Cow, there’s the problem I talked about. The ad-hominem against any critic. In this case, the ad-hominem takes the form of the critic’s having to have produced original work in order to criticize LSR’s lack of production of original work. Bad argument, my friend. What I do or do not do, is independent of the fact that a few years ago LSR was producing excellent academic work (for instance, by the Menon sisters) and is not doing so anymore. Forget what I have done or not. That’s irrelevant to our assessment of this institution.

  4. Anon

    And if you were to reply that it’s inspiration that you’re looking for, then obviously, there’s no such requirement that the inspiration must come from my work only (unless, like I said, your sole purpose is to jettison the critique through an ad-hominem). In which case, JSTOR is a brilliant place to start :)

  5. Swati

    The work you have done constitutes your credibility to criticize others. If you haven’t done any, kindly go crib somewhere else!

  6. Anon

    Swati, that’s the problem. And if this is what all LSR debates have come down to it’s shameful. You’re completely Ad-homineming your way out of this. I do not need to prove my credibility as an academic to criticize LSR’s credentials as an academic institution. In fact, I will go one step further and admit my mediocrity and inability to produce academic worth. And you are free to criticize me for that. But perhaps, it is excusable for me to not have produced anything, but you cannot excuse an entire institution like LSR for having failed to produce good academic writing for several years now. So let’s stop focusing on criticism of the critic, and try and assess the institution instead.

  7. Anon

    And no, unlike most LSR critics, my criticism is not based on a LSR-bashing for the heck of it perspective. It’s based on a twofold concern. The first obviously being this institution’s historic contribution to the academic world in the country, which is on a decline. The first concern is thus, purely for the academic scenario of this country. The second is based on the fact that LSR has produced interesting, un-cliched feminism in the past, but has stopped doing so. There is absolutely nothing new in terms of Feminist theory, or feminist writing emerging from LSR anymore. Thus, the second concern is for the feminist movement of its country, which I hope to see this institution contributing to (@DU Beat: Would an article on this be in order?)

  8. Swati

    Dear Anon as you put it, even if LSR indeed is on a way to its academic decline I don’t see what’s the big deal. Every functional unit in human world goes through ups and downs. What’s the big blunder even if the number of publishing faculty has come down. Secondly, just because LSR is a women’s institution does not mean we are responsible for contributing heavily Indian feminist discourse. Women’s movement in this country is a larger issue and has to muster support from all nooks and corners. An educational institution can’t make or break it. Besides as you would know, the few of us who indeed turn out to believe in and propagate feminism are inevitably infamous as a part of the ‘LSR-bashing’. Those of us who are already pursuing this path no more care about these irrational comments, but directly or indirectly it does stunt the growth of feminism in the institution. So, instead of blaming us for not being feminism enough, it would rather held if you make the same plea to other colleges in the university as well and help them be more receptive to feminist understanding.

  9. Anon

    Swati, firstly, why do I see a problem with academic decline in an academic institution is quite obvious. And if you see no problem with that, I think there’s one of the major contributing factors of the problem. My sense is (and this is not just the problem with LSR, but also in Hindu and Stephen’s) that the climate conducive for publishing, and production of original writing no longer exists. We’re alright with unoriginal, quick-fix essays these days, and thus there’s no urgency to rectify that problem. While LSR in itself is not entirely to blame, it must share in the blame. All good institutions have to build mechanisms where it strengths are enduring, and are insulated from ups and downs as you put it. As for the contribution to feminism, I see you getting highly defensive on this one. Contribution to the feminist movement is expected of LSR not because it’s a female institution, but because it has historically contributed to the feminist movement in political as well as academic ways. And that was because its feminism was original, constantly pushing the boundaries, not just an obligation every LSR student felt to unquestioningly adopt. The recent years show a freeze in LSR’s feminism. It hasn’t produced anything original. And if you are concerned for the country’s feminist movement, you would definitely want LSR to go back to its original, radical ways of the past decades. And as for the irrational comments stunting the growth of feminism, I don’t think you’re being fair to your own institution by saying that. The institution faced even stronger criticism and irrational comments in a society that was even more patriarchal and opposed to women’s political movements 2-3 decades ago. But that was the time LSR was making major contributions to that movement. Let us not underestimate the criticism and the conditions under which they did it then. Thus, I wouldn’t see that as an excuse. And yes, I’m equally concerned about other colleges not contributing enough. Why would you think I don’t make the same plea to them? But as of now, we’re focusing on LSR. I wish you wouldn’t have the “Why don’t you show us what you did” “Why don’t you tell others” “Why don’t you show us how others are any better” kind of attitude. That’s just not healthy debate. And it’s of no consequence to our assessment of LSR.

  10. (?)Anon

    “The stereotypes people create precedes them; contrary to popular belief the favourite hobby of men in Delhi is not rape …”

    LOL, Prago.

  11. D

    Very nice.
    Also, i cant believe despite three years in LSR..and two out of it… I haven’t heard ‘Kudi LSR di” :P

  12. Red!

    I think you should market the product of the college then the “ENVIRONMENT” . When you transcend as contrary to ascend there are bound to be a babbling baboons. Capiche!

  13. Vandana

    Lets not ruin a piece of work done here. Someone who has been in the college will relate it much better than anyone else who has just read this article right now. If LSR is on a decline , the first post i read , it will be visible with less intakes in coming years. Just let the upcoming undergraduates decide who shall have an opinion too as to what they want. I am sure there is space for everyone to breathe and choose.

  14. Anon

    (@Moderator: ignore previous comment)

    ” If LSR is on a decline , the first post i read , it will be visible with less intakes in coming years.” Bad argument. The intake will obviously not decrease. For several reasons. The first being that LSR is still one of the better colleges for humanities in India. Now don’t take this to mean it’s not on a decline, or that it’s flourishing. Being in the top 3 colleges in India doesn’t mean it isn’t declining. Moreover, the number of people going in for higher education is increasing. And seats are limited. Thus, there is no question of the intake become lower. But the problem is not with the intake. The numbers may increase 10 times. But if our best institutions are producing that many more mediocres, then there’s a real problem there. And I’m not trying to say this piece is incorrect, or that there’s something wrong with it. It portrays one side of LSR, and I’m trying to offer another one. One that is not based on sentimental connection with one’s institution (which often precludes self-reflexivity and criticism of the institution), and is instead based on concern for academic life in this country. I’m not asking people to suddenly start hating LSR, or even mildly disliking it- but simply to recognize that there are real flaws (that are not exclusive to LSR) that need to be looked at, and rectified. What is surprising me is, how not a single one of us here, has even bothered to try and take seriously the argument, that perhaps there is something wrong with our best institutions not producing the kind of work they did earlier. What I see instead is absolute, unthinking, unquestioning “no my college is just fine. you shut up, there’s nothing wrong with my college” type of response. That’s a very unhealthy trend.

  15. Anon

    When it comes to higher education institutions, it is oft better to judge them by their ability to produce individuals who do not continuously exalt and praise their institutions, but individuals whose mental faculties have been sharpened enough to be able to criticize them. That is the mark of a good institution, which can produce free thinking individuals. Sadly, I don’t see that. Not from one person.

  16. S

    Feminism and male-bashing are not the same thing at all. That the two are often mentioned in the same breath, as in this article, makes me wish feminist theory WAS a complusory concurrent course at LSR.

  17. ordinaryguy

    Anon, I think you have made your point( obviously ad hominem does not negate your views) but now you are trying too hard to stand your ground. :)
    I have a general question though. Assuming LSR offers courses in subjects like Stats, Econ, Maths… is it possible to include any feminist discourse in the curricula of these subjects? I don’t think so
    And secondly could anybody here suggest links to the feminist literature contributions made recently or in the past by people from LSR?

  18. Another Anon

    Anon you have replied to every single person . How come you have so much time on your hands?

  19. Vanz

    Well… lovely article! Just thoght of how wonderful this college is!! I’m glad to have spent those 3 lovely years of my life there!!

  20. Shadow

    Dude, Anonymous, did LSR throw you out or something?
    You seem to have a bad case of hatred. Without reason? I think not.

    Good work, Pragya Lal! :)

  21. Anon

    There we go again. How do I have so much time? Did LSR throw me out? Bad argument, girls :) I’ve still only been ad-hominemed. Like I said, if this is the general level of argumentation students from LSR can offer, no wonder there’s no original work being produced. I keep coming back to this page in hope of finding some argument, other than a personal attack. I’m still optimistic of finding one. As for past work produced by LSR, you only have to look into stuff written by the Menon sisters for instance. Btw, sarcasm, no matter how powerful, cannot replace an argument. Unfortunately, the rhetoric of sarcasm seems to be a good enough response on this thread. Not good.

  22. anks

    @anon….get a life!!if u r part of the college u would have known what it has given to us…n if u r not….u have no right to judge it.

  23. COW

    I’m too lazy to read all of the above anon, Seeing you have so much time on your hands, could you please squeeze it all into two sentences? Maximum three. Thanks

  24. ordinaryguy

    @anon: The google search provided some articles written by Nivedita Menon, is she one of the Menon sisters you mentioned about? Could you mention who is the other Menon?
    There is one article by Jisha Menon on Jstor which deals with gender issues.Though I am not sure if Jisha is from LSR. Then again she is all through been a lecturer in English and Drama in different Universities.
    Ritu Menon has been a women’s activist for ages, but she was from lady Irwin College.
    Anon, I have never studied in DU or LSR, but I have enermous interest and some knowledge in feminist literature, and hence also have secondary interest in this debate.
    Could you be more specific about the remarkable contributions from LSR in the past and in the present, so that, a more critical comparison can come up from this debate.
    Just saying that “Quality has fallen/ risen/ just check Jstor” is not taking this debate anywhere

  25. Anon

    @Ordinary Guy,
    Finally, some semblance of a civilized discussion. I welcome that. The other sister of course, is Nivedita’s sister, Pramada. Some very fine work has come from both these women. In feminist theory by Nivedita, and feminist/queer theory by Pramada. Then there’s Sengupta as well. All three of these women have apart from contributing to theory, made important contributions in the field of activism as well.

  26. LostAnju

    Anon makes very valid points, I think. The article, at least the way I read it, walks a fine line between being sincere and tongue-in-cheek. It really was not a detailed analysis of the academics in LSR(not that this disqualifies Anon’s critique).
    And I dunno if LSR’s campus life is really that rosy though. There are obvious cracks in the seemingly ‘perfect’ picture. I myself have felt undercurrents of xenophobia, classism, casteism and sexism as well. LSR is quite diverse but it does throw a few fault-lines in society on the spotlight by being so. But I do believe that everyone has a place here. For many people this institution has been nourishing and many of us wouldn’t think, behave or live the ways we do had it not been for LSR and the atmosphere it provides. I have changed for the better and I have my teachers, friends and colleagues and LSR to thank for that.

    “I’m speaking of the lack of original academic work. Nothing of academic value has been produced- no innovative papers, no good written work has emerged for years now. And that was LSR’s strength some years back.”
    Anon, I’m relatively new to LSR and not particularly acquainted with the institution’s publishing history so could you please be more specific here and no, the vague “Menon sisters” will not suffice. Couldn’t you have at least identified them by their first names on one of your posts? Publication dates and names, please? I mean no sarcasm. I intend to engage with your criticism and for that I would need something more solid to respond to.

    “The second is based on the fact that LSR has produced interesting, un-cliched feminism in the past, but has stopped doing so. There is absolutely nothing new in terms of Feminist theory, or feminist writing emerging from LSR anymore. Thus, the second concern is for the feminist movement of its country, which I hope to see this institution contributing to.”
    This I agree with. I have heard of LSR’s contributions to the feminist movement in India and it’s something I’m extremely proud of as a member of this institution. I think we need to think in new ways about Gender and activism as students. Maybe it’s because we used to be ahead of the curve but sometimes I feel a certain staidness to the discourse around feminism here. A kind of “institutionalised” feeling where the same, non-threatening and nearly-drained-of-radicalism statements are touted over and over again. The mainstreamisation of LSR feminist discourse where “You Go Girl” slogans replace thought or action. I know I’m being very vague but again this is just a feeling. And this is not to say that I’ve been thinking radically or engaging with gender myself, I guess I too have fallen in the same repetitive rut where the words like “patriarchy” seems to have lost its sting when I use it to talk about gender (not in society or my life, mind you, but just in the way I think about gender!!). Again, this is also a massive privilege. I think many of us would never have started thinking about gender and how it affects our lives, let alone openly have conversations around it, had LSR not provided peer groups and a healthy atmosphere for conversation. I’m an active part of the Women’s Development Cell in college and we really do try to engage with gender issues critically and this sometimes contribute to action as well. Maybe not prominently but yes, conversations that WDC facilitates has changed a lot of us. We had a take back the night walk last year which saw great attendance. And this is to say nothing about the support LSR gives wherein individually we try to negotiate our feminism, our lives and horrible realities around us. You seem rather dismissive about that.
    To declare feminism “frozen” is horribly premature to say the least. The issue maybe visibility. And how exactly can one gauge LSR’s radical politics anyway? Not to mention that the present neo-liberal, India-rising narrative, squashes alternative voices. Patriarchal forces haven’t gone away or decreased in strength they’re there in new forms be it the state which pretends to care for women or the new media and commerce(both being totally interchangeable) where empowerment and exploitation are confused for the other. LSR is situated in this milieu as are the rest of us and the sooner we break out of this, the better. The challenge against women raising their voices has not gone away as you seem to presume. Our foremothers succeeded in getting their’s heard and I hope we succeed one day too. But individual engagement with gender continues on many levels and I remain confident that LSR will contribute to both the movement and academically.

    I know little to nothing about the academic work the college has contributed regarding feminist theory so I cannot comment on that. I’ve read Nivedita Menon’s “Gender and Politics in India” but that’s it. Help, please?
    Also, the argument that DU’s and JNU’s publication credentials have gone down seems to be commonly accepted wisdom. I don’t think anyone will deny that. Something needs to be done and fast. You seem to speak from a position of experience and knowledge so why not extrapolate instead of responding to the inane ad-hominems? You’ve got me thinking and it would be nice if you would make more solid points instead of repeating how LSR cannot take criticism.
    /the whole post is rather a rant than a thought out analysis. I was intrigued by Anon’s comments and was more or less thinking aloud.

  27. LostAnju

    OrdinaryGuy, one of the Menon sisters is Nivedita. An LSR graduate(if I’m not mistaken she was LSR student body president when she was in college as well :D ), later an LSR teacher in the Political Science department and now teaching in JNU. She’s widely published and is a frequent contributor on the site, Kafila. What I’d like Anon to tell me is whether the majority of her major publications happened to be when she was in LSR or JNU. I really wish she/he would be a little more specific in their criticisms. Oh, and the Women’s Development Cell in LSR recently had Dr. Menon talk on gender in a lively session. Feminism is not dead here yet. ;)
    If she is one of the Menon sisters Anon referred to, then the other has to be Nivedita’s sister, Pramada. Pramada Menon, to my knowledge, works extensively on gender and sexuality issues and is a very well-regarded activist. I have no idea if she’s extensively published since I’m not familiar with her work at all. Neither do I know if she’s from LSR.
    Hope this helps, OrdinaryGuy. :) I, too, have an enormous interest and sadly very little knowledge about feminist literature.

  28. Anon

    LostAnju, thank you for that post. It definitely adds to this debate. I did not want to seem dismissive of LSR’s efforts towards gender equity- especially those of the WDCs. Nor am I trying to call it frozen; surely no institution with new members every year can remain frozen. But I am calling it slow in responding to the new context within which it has to formulate a response; and I am calling it unoriginal as compared to its predecessors. This is exactly what your referred to as the institutionalization of sorts of non-threatening, tradition-says-it radicalism. (I will emphasize here, that this is not simply limited to LSR, but at the same time, LSR is not exempt from this criticism). I also agree with you when you attribute a shift in our (LSR and everyone else’s) attitude towards politics, activism and gender. However, I could still reasonably expect LSR to build a space, at least inside its college, where alternative voices exist. I have been talking to some of my friends at LSR about the students’ politics, the elections etc. I was surprised to see the extent to which the politics were apolitical where politics is good, and political where political means bad. And this is not rhetoric. The argument here is that even within the college itself, there is not enough desirable political activity, that at least attempts to provide a space for alternative voices. For instance, nobody in the students’ elections, I found out, was speaking to/about the karamcharis. In fact- and this is sense I got from most of my friends in LSR itself- the politics in college was not the kind that could take on the administration, even where required. Now if that is true (and here, you and I can only rely on precedents and peoples’ perception), that’s not a good sign. That’s definitely not fertile ground for radical politics or activism.

  29. LostAnju

    OK, I had not seen Anon’s reply to OrdinaryGuy when I posted my reply to OrdinaryGuy. Moderation problem?
    And which Sengupta are you talking about, Anon? First name please?

  30. LostAnju

    Hmmm, maybe Anasuya Sengupta?
    OK, Anon, again please tell me when Pramada and Nivedita Menon’s and Sengupta’s works were published? Were they in the capacity of faculty in LSR when they did so? I think Dr. Nivedita taught in LSR during the late ’90s-early ’00s. Maybe she wrote ‘Gender and Politics in India’ then. But the others I’m sure came during her time in JNU, no? I think your point still stands. I’m not aware of any major publications by LSR faculty in the past 3 years but maybe that’s my ignorance.
    Or are you speaking about contributions of alumna? Again, much criticism, little specificity.

    Could you please reply to my comment, Anon?

  31. LostAnju

    Anon, thanks for the reply. You’re right. I too remember nothing being discussed about the karamcharis this election. I think there’s a section of LSR which feels that since we’re not part of the ‘muck and mess’ of the larger DU elections the ‘politics’ here (which is really not that political)is somehow more exalted or ‘pure’. I also think that the college has blinders on when it comes to issues of caste. Not open discrimination but just perhaps an unwillingness to talk about issues regarding caste. Maybe I missed them….I dunno but there’s not a lot of engagement when it comes to that. Even when talking about feminism it’s the usual sloganeering. Rid of all context, as if there’s this imaginary monolith of women fighting the imaginary, monolithic patriarchal forces. Conversations about caste, class, capitalism, sexuality, consumerism, media etc don’t seem to figure often when talking about gender. Maybe it’s my problem in perception. Another may have a different view altogether.

    I definitely think the administration now reigns supreme. There were even murmurs about banning shorts in college. People who talked in corridors were getting their I-cards confiscated etc. Completely scary big-brother tactics. And the student body does seem really really small when taking on the Goliath-like administration. Maybe the Student body itself has become institutionalized. Maybe the larger DU-ethos are creeping up here in the LSR administration as well. Especially with the rather embarrassing obsession (I don’t want to call it that but…)with the stupid India Today rankings..
    OK, I’m revealing too much with a prematurely chosen ‘Name’ here!
    I’ve a lot to thank LSR for but I’d also like to leave it a better place. I thank you for your criticism. May we soon see a turn-around at least politically. Academically, I don’t know what’s to be done since the problem is similar to that faced by DU and JNU as well. But student politics is something that can definitely be MORE POLITICAL! Maybe we’ll see some of that in future. I remain hopeful.

    I thank you for the critical input. Were you ever a part of LSR before? You seem to know a lot about its history. Anyway these are things to consider and talk about.

  32. Shubhangni

    Mr. Anon, first of all, as to all the big words and catchy phrases you have been using in your ‘criticisms’ as you put it, what I would like to know is: what is YOUR definition of ‘decline’, ‘flourishing’ and ‘original’. And kindly do not refer to a dictionary for this purpose. I would like to know your interpretation of these words, along with supporting examples if you may, so that we may carry this ‘constructive criticism’of yours forward, and you may not be… say ‘troubled’, by any ad-hominemism, that my fellow mates here have to offer.

  33. Anon

    Yeah, Anusuya. And I’ve read Nivedita’s publications from the late 90s (her LSR days), especially on themes of gender and the rise of the right-wing. (Gender and Politics in India came out in 1999). I have hard copies, but I’ll try and find corresponding links. And contribution by the LSR faculty has either declined, or hasn’t been enough to catch the attention of the academic world, like Menon’s did.

  34. Anon

    @Lostanju: No, I was not. But I’ve followed the history of activism and politics (especially students’ politics) in DU very closely. I think that’s one area that definitely deserves more academic attention. And I follow this area closely because I don’t believe in the hard-determinism logic often thrust upon students’ politics in the logic of neo-liberal contexts: that this is how even these politics will be. There are instances, and there are politics in students’ institutions that have shown that students have the ability to override that logic. (maybe it’s something inherent in the concept of a ‘student’, as opposed to a businessman/politician/professional, and an obvious mix of rebellion, idealism. I’d love to share some of these recent examples with you, if you could let me know your email ID. I too, like you, remain more hopeful of the emergence of greater politics in students’ politics.

  35. LostAnju

    “And contribution by the LSR faculty has either declined, or hasn’t been enough to catch the attention of the academic world, like Menon’s did.”
    My knowledge about the topic is very limited but I’m not aware of any publications in recent years either. But the second reason you give seems to be equally plausible. Has the quality gone down or is it because of diminishing resources that only few (which may not even be meritocratic)publications “catch” the attention of the academia?
    I can find the links myself, thanks. :) I’ve read quite a few of Dr. Menon’s essays on the internet and all her books are available in our library. I just had a doubt whether the bulk of her work came during her time in LSR or DU, JNU. I think she edited Gender and Politics when she was in LSR. The majority of her work came when she was in DU or JNU. At least I think so. I could be wrong. I also remember her thanking her FORMER colleagues (some of whom I know!)in the preface to “Sexualities” which came out during her time in JNU, I think. Anyway I’m a huge admirer of her work and I hope LSR contributes more such people.

  36. Anon

    Shubhangni, I cannot restart this debate again. If you look at my discussion with Lostanuj, it’ll become quite clear to you what conceptions of decline, originality etc this critique was premised upon. Some of these are the responsiveness of the current activism to the current context, the responsiveness of the politics in the institution coupled with its ability to be radical (or at least, to not behave in a subservient manner) and finally, original works published by academics from LSR. And before you start attacking me for dismissing LSR, I would like to clarify for the umpteenth time now, that I’m not doing that here. There is a decline in these criteria- and there is a decline in almost every liberal arts institute in the country in these. And it’s upto the students and faculty in each of these to try and do something about it.

  37. LostAnju

    OK, I can’t believe I’ve missed this but there’s Dr. Krishna Menon who is highly published as well. I don’t know how much attention she has got from the academic world (hmmm, who is this academic world :D )but she is extremely respected and well-regarded for her work. There’s also Sunalini Kumar, who I’m not sure if she’s highly published but is known for her writing in kafila and other media.
    There’s Dr. Sharada Nair who won the Katha Prize for Translation some years back. I might be missing others…
    Perhaps you could ask some of your friends in LSR, anon? Just because big names like Nivedita Menon aren’t around anymore need not mean that LSR is producing nothing of quality.
    And a correction regarding my previous post, the preface in one of Dr. Nivedita Menon’s books is from “Recovering Subversion”. I got the two confused.

  38. Shubhangni

    Sir, I am not trying to attack you or undermine any of your arguments. I merely wish to understand what has caused you to so aggressively pursue this topic. I am highly interested in studying human behaviour, and your responses interest and amuse me. I am not really bothered about your factual consistencies at the moment, but rather the intensity of these responses, and the reason why you have continued to be an ardent debater on this forum, when it may not have even been the most appropriate or even the most effective forum.

    In fact, you have been time and again trying to dismiss any sort of moderating opinion on the subject (example: the response by Vandana). Any attempt to maintain the sanctity of the article or attempt to shift the discussion elsewhere has been lost on you. I would like to know why. And please note, this is not an attempt to demean you, I can assure you I find no pleasure randomly picking on people I don’t know, neither wish to know.

  39. LostAnju

    I’m a little wary of identifying myself by my email id here but this is a conversation I would love to have. Can you provide your email id, first?

  40. Anon

    @Shubhangni: Aggressive? Really? :) If you feel I’ve been aggressive in this debate, I wouldn’t want to have any conversation with you, since it would apparently be lost upon you. As for why I’m pursuing this discussion is because of concern for the lack of effective political activity and original academic work in our best institutions. You may not find this a topic worth pursuing, or spending time upon, but I do. Let’s respect that. And as for this not being the most appropriate forum, I’ve been able to find someone like LostAnju with whom I’m glad I can engage in a mutually beneficial conversation. And one that can help me gain a more nuanced understanding of the institution(s) that are the subject of my critique. And Vandana’s opinion was that I’m dismissing/ruining this article, and I clarified that I had no intention of doing that. This shows one side of the institution, and I wanted to discuss another aspect of it. These are not mutually exclusive. The ‘sanctity of this article’ is thus maintained, and there is no attempt to erode it.

  41. Anon

    @LostAnju: Bypassing the disguised ad-homineming happening here, there is another issue which I would like you to look at. The lack of self-reflexivity. And you too hinted at this in your “India Today” comment. And I see this with most of our best institutions today (Stephen’s does this. Hindu does this too). And not only is there a lack of self-reflexivity, there is in fact almost active intolerance towards criticism of our institutions. A kind of ethnocentrism. An institution-centrism, if you will. Where not only do we refuse to criticize our college (in public fora), which translates into lack of dissent or activity against the authorities, but take it almost personally if someone from the ‘outside’ does it (or by excommunicating insiders who do).

  42. ordinaryguy

    @lostanju: You really have infused life into this discussion, though I got a gut feeling that you went into a defensive fearing somebody may infer your identity. Regarding exchanging emails with anybody unknown, I would advise you to open a new email account for this correspondence. This would safeguard your interests.
    @shubhangini: I still think that a section of posts here have been pretty rude about dealing with Anon’s queries and there have been apprehensions about his “actual” intentions. But I do not think that Anon has any other intentions than pursuing a healthy debate. I myself am interested in studying human behavior, partly because of my profession. I would think that Anon is interested in pitting her/himself against the brilliant minds of the top girls college in our country- that would explain his persistence on the topic.
    @anon and lostanju: You guys seem well read on gender studies in India. Could you suggest online links(scanned lectures and stuff) on these works? I am unable to access any Indian library due to geograhical reasons, but, I do have access to JSTOR. If you guys have anything interesting on contemporary gender studies or politics in India, I would be very glad to hear from you or read you. My email id is

  43. Shubhangni

    Sir, the fact that you have found someone with whom you are able to pursue this ‘fruitful’ discussion does not imply that is the most correct place to have this discussion. Your criticism would have been very well appreciated, I assure you, had it been relevant to the topic being discussed in the ARTICLE. Even if your claims of academic redundancy in LSR are relevant, it does in no way pertain to the subject of student life or personal outlook of the college being pursued in this article. Hence the opposition. Kindly pursue your debate on articles that pertain to your argument. Starting off with a debate that doesn’t critically analyse the given text, makes you look ignorant and frustrated, even if I take your word for it that you are not.

    And yes, from a third person perspective, your responses do look aggressive, really :) Read back all your comments with a cool and detached mind, and you will understand exactly what I am talking about.

  44. Anon

    Shubhangni, they look aggressive to someone who holds so dearly to their institution-affiliations that any criticism whatsoever, is seen as an almost personal affront. Else, you would only see debate and argumentation, not aggression.

    And if you feel this is not the appropriate forum to debate anything apart from the article, then perhaps making this argument in this forum is equally illegitimate ;) The point is that this is one of the best fora for reaching out to students, teachers and alumni of LSR (no, meeting personally and doing that is of little use- the debate ends in me getting shouted down). Like you said, this article talks about student life. I’d like people reading this to also consider another aspect of the institution.

  45. dazzStar

    well being an aspiring girl to be a part of LSR, such articles definitely give me a boost….

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