As a suffice to its initiative of promoting the learning of North-Eastern languages, Delhi University organised a trip to North-East India in the ‘Dharohar-Gyanodaya Express’ in December 2014. The idea was to expand the research capabilities and interests of the students who have already been involved in many research activities related to North-Eastern India.
Each college was allowed to send in teams of maximum 10 students working on one of the numerous projects such as Endangered Languages, Gender issues, Flora & Fauna, Domestic Architecture, River Brahmputra etc. The trip itinerary included visits to Arunanchal Pradesh, Assam (Guwahati), Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
As many as 800 students travelled in the Gyanodaya express with some 200 faculty members, doctors, committee members, etc. Though the trip was ‘showcased’ as a roaring success by the University, the actual participants of the trip were left with mixed reactions.
As was the common opinion of numerous students on board, mismanagement was something that plagued the functioning of the tour. While certain plans from the itineraries were just uprooted away citing ‘security reasons’, the others were conducted with a confusing management. The entire team of 800 students was further teamed up into smaller groups- each group assigned a different North-Eastern state to visit. While the officials from the university tried earnestly to ‘show’ how successfully the trip was faring out, the students were left feeling unhappy about the organisation.
One of the possible reasons, as explained by a student, was that around 60% of their time was spent in travelling. Independent movements and interactions of the students were highly restricted which failed their purpose of learning about and exploring the places they were introduced to.
The group visiting Assam was certainly impressed by the visit to the Kaziranga National Park and Swalkauchi (a not-so-popular silk town of Assam). But the fact that they had as many as 5 temples to be visited as per their itineraries clearly came as no surprise as the entire theme of the trip was designed by the current government at the center.
The trip left many students feeling as mere tourists as the whole idea of ‘researching, exploring and learning’ didn’t quite come out as it was promised by the University earlier. The students felt that the trip could’ve been more field work oriented rather than just visiting and observing the sites. However, at the same time, it wouldn’t be wise to ignore the ingenuity of the concept and the participation of students from all colleges, making it an impactful experience.
Manav Seth, a participant from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, said that, “though the idea was brilliant, but bringing it down to a mere formality defeats the purpose and potential of the whole concept.”
Photographs Courtesy: www.du.ac.in