The past week witnessed inspection teams comprising of two to four staff members from Delhi University armed with notepads, surveilling the colleges in South campus. The group was shadowed by teachers and staff of the colleges answering the inspector’s queries and also guiding the tour.
While the inspection was well and good, with students being asked to make themselves scarce from various hangout points. It is the behind the scenes of this inspection that primarily concerned us. In the weeks previous to the inspection, the campus of various well known colleges in the South campus underwent some serious modifications.
Lady Shri Ram College was among the ones privy to these once in a blue moon changes. Says a student of the college, “Wi Fi in the college was working for only those days when the inspection happened. People who were coming out of the kitchen were wearing plastic caps and gloves, however I have never seen them wear those again.” While all students in the college are provided a unique password for availing the Wi Fi internet facility, it is a rare occasion that the facility itself is actually made available. This serves as an inconvenience for the students who require internet for not just communication but research purposes. The college lawns were also sealed off for students for the days.
Gargi College witnessed a cleaning drive in its campus and a sudden improvement in the quality of the food being served. There were also more covered dustbins visible around the campus.
Mentions a student of the college, “Corridors and rooms which had never been touched were now being cleaned fervently.”
Kamala Nehru College on the other hand while providing fully functional Wi Fi to it students, provides quite low standards of cleanliness in some of its washrooms with lack of basic facilities like soap, water in its cisterns, empty sanitary napkin dispensers and irregular cleaning of the loos. But the inspection team probably did not get to see this, for the toilets were scrubbed clean, gleaming with emptied dustbins and toilet paper roll in every cubicle as the cherry on top of this highly sanitary cake during their visit.
What was also disappointing was the temporary measures employed in the cafeteria of all colleges including Gargi College. The cooks at every stall wore hairnets and gloves for an entire period of two days before they reverted back to their original protection less glory and not a peep was heard from the administration for this blatant disregard of health standards.
The problem that emerges in this scenario is the hypocrisy of college authorities to harp about ‘Swach Bharat Abhiyan’ and indoctrinate cleanliness in its students while completely turning a blind eye to its responsibility and duty. The changes that occurred for two days clearly states that a) we are aware of the health standards and b) that we are also capable of implementing them.
Either the college does not have the required funds or labour to implement these measures constantly and periodically or there exists no system of checks and balances to keep a constant watch over the implementation of these policies.
Quoting a Union member of one of the colleges in South campus, “The Proctoral committee is responsible for the sanitation facilities in college. The problem is not the cleaners but the students who do not throw the trash in dustbins. Also, the lack of female cleaners is an issue.”
While the irresponsible behaviour of the students might be a slight factor, colleges cannot shrug of their responsibility by blaming it on the students. After all, students are not expected to come to college armed with soap, water and toilet paper.
Is it too much to demand that all cooks wear gloves and plastic caps while preparing or serving the food?
One solution to this situation could be that when colleges sign contracts with these vendors, they include a health standard clause which needs to be abided by at all times. Colleges can also create a committee comprising of students and teachers which will not only be responsible for keeping a tab on the implementation of these clauses but also improvising new mechanisms for improving food quality.
With slight changes and a stricter checking mechanism, colleges will not have to rely on the hurried damage control mode before the next inspection.