DUB Speak

How ‘free’ and ‘independent’ is our University?

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Our country has been independent of foreign rule for 67 years now. We’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in an India whose laws and policies are made by its own people. We’re even more fortunate to be a part of a small section in India that can read and write. And while we’re counting your blessings, maybe we should also consider ourselves lucky to be part of a miniscule population of young people in India who are able to manage a decent University level education. Now that we are thinking along these lines, lets think about what it’s like to be part of the ‘best’ University in India. Think about what we really know about the University of Delhi. How ‘free’ is this University we go to? How ‘free’ are we?

Are we free enough to choose not to study a particular language to match up to a certain standard of ‘Indian-ness’? Are we free enough to walk up to our Vice Chancellor, tell him we don’t agree with him? Or even our Principal? Are we free to decide what papers are ‘foundational’ to our Undergraduate education? Are we consulted every time there is a fee hike? How many protests have made a difference? How many of us actually care enough to participate in the Student’s Union elections – possibly our first experience of active democracy?

What is freedom to this University if something as essential as a new syllabus is made without consulting a body of teachers who have been teaching the subject for half their lives? What does technology mean to students who don’t even have enough chairs and tables in their classrooms? We’ve celebrated Independence Day in most colleges of the University, we’ve garlanded statues, remembered martyrs, but we’re not even slightly aware of what this freedom is meant for.  We – the future of this country; we – the torchbearers of the best university in the country; we, belonging to a University famous for producing the greatest contemporary thinkers this country has seen.

Freedom obviously comes at great cost. Its funny how being from a privileged, educated and well read India, many of us still haven’t been able to experience what it really means to be free. Many of us may never know.  The very establishment of Delhi University in 1922 took place as an attempt to free young minds of the country. 67 years after achieving formal freedom, it’s only upsetting this Grand University is being colonized by its own officials. From the Four Year Undergraduate Programme to the DUSU Elections, from hunger strikes to petitions and memorandums – teachers, students and administrative staff have no reason to celebrate freedom, no reason to feel free in a space ‘’where the mind is meant to be without fear, and the head is supposed to be held high.’’

Bani’s love for books, people, travel and writing defines who she is and everything she does. An idealist at heart and a student of political science, she wishes to accomplish some fantastic journalistic work in her lifetime.

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