“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” Judging by the current fiscal situation, these lines from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge fit the University of Delhi quite well. While state-funded educational institutions in India are struggling for funds, Delhi University has a different problem – it is unable to utilise the given endowment.
Recently in March, Delhi University had to return Rs 108 crore to the University Grants Commission (UGC) because it was unable to spend it. Between 2012 and 2017, an amount of Rs 300 crore was given to DU, of which only 100 crore was put to use. From the remaining Rs 200 crore, Rs 105 crore lapsed as this amount was time-bound. The remaining Rs 95 crore was to be spent by March 31st, or else would be terminated. As this realisation drew upon the officials, they proposed to use the remaining Rs 95 crore to buy Delhi Development Authority (DDA) flats across Delhi which will be used as hostels and living quarters for staff. This abruptly-planned proposal is already being contested by Residents Welfare Associations and the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Other than this, an amount of Rs 56 crore designated to Faculty of Management Studies for expanding the buildings is also about to lapse. In their defence, the officials have reasoned that the building of Management Studies is in the Ridge area and the University could not get environmental clearances for the revamp. However, this fund was allocated ten years ago so the varsity had enough time to look for a solution.
Of surplus and scarcity
In February, Lady Irwin College was forced to increase its fees because the UGC reduced its bankroll. So while on the one side there is surplus, on the other there is scarcity. Besides, it is a well-known grievance how clubs and societies in various colleges suffer while seeking the meagre ECA grant. Even the workers, non-teaching staff, ad-hoc teachers as well as the lab attendants who protest frequently against low wages and delayed bonus are told off on the grounds of “insufficient fund”. Therefore, in this situation it is nothing but ironic that a university is unable to utilise the allocations. The officials can put forth many excuses in their defence, but the truth is that lack of accountability and sheer laziness are the reasons why this problem exists.
Image Credits: India Today