Admissions 2020

DU Brings Back ECA Admissions Without Trials

In a decision taken on Monday, the administration of Delhi University (DU) has decided to bring back its Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) quota for its 2020 admissions.

On Monday, 20th July 2020, Delhi University (DU) has reversed its earlier decision to curtail admissions under the extra-curricular activities quota. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the varsity had announced to discontinue the ECA, sports, and other performance-based categories for admissions. Only students with NCC and NSS certificates were eligible for the selection process. The sports category was eligible only by merit certificates. The authorities cited the improbability of the verification process of ECA certificates and conducting in-person trials as their primary reasons. Many pointed out that there was no reliable way to authenticate that the ECA certificates were government-approved. 

However, the decision attracted a lot of objections from student groups and public figures such as Birju Maharaj and Geeta Chandran. Many perceived the issue as a direct loss for arts and culture in the varsity, that has for long been known for its various cultural societies. M. Venkaiah Naidu, the Vice President and Chancellor of the University received numerous requests, elaborating on the issue. The Vice President subsequently attended a meeting with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the Dean of Colleges, DU, to discuss the various issues of the academic year in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The Vice President finally appealed to the DU admission committee to retain the usual ECA procedure.  

According to minutes accessed by Times Of India, the admission committee went over extensive discussions regarding the ECA issue. The meeting was held to reconsider the earlier decision and to estimate a ‘credible and viable mechanism of inclusion of all subcategories of ECA’. On Monday, the Standing Committee took back its mandate to discontinue admissions on the basis of the ECA category publicly. This deliberated decision was met with mostly (but not all) positive responses. Standing committee member, Arun Atree, objected to the reversal and suggested online trials. Other members pointed to the lack of experts and proper infrastructure as the problems. Atree added that this may be unfair to deserving candidates and lead to impersonation cases. He argued that there was no way of authenticating ECA certificates, unlike sports, as there are no government-approved institutions issuing such certificates, he said. This would make it unfair to deserving candidates and may even lead to cases of impersonation. The students too, have argued against lack of trials being an ineffective medium to consider admissions under the ECA Quota.

View this post on Instagram

Many of us have read the news of ECA being restored and welcome this update, but is it really a victory? On 20th July, Monday, a standing committee rebuilt the admissions based on Extra Curricular Activities which were earlier completely done away with. According to the Hindu, "admissions under this quota will now be based entirely on certificates submitted by applicants". While many celebrate this new development, it is imperative to realise the questions of authenticity and transparency it raises. "Standing Committee member Arun Attree objected to the decision, arguing that there was no way of authenticating ECA certificates, unlike sports, as there are no government-approved institutions issuing such certificates, he said. This would make it unfair to deserving candidates and may even lead to cases of impersonation, he said". The only acceptable way to move ahead with ECA admissions is to restore the 25% weightage to certificates and 75% to trials. But in this time of pandemic uncertainty, how can trials be conducted? Amongst the several suggested alternatives, 'online' trials have popped up quite frequently. According to the Times of India, Atree suggested holding online trials. "But committee members cited lack of experts and infrastructure as the reason for doing away with even online trials," he said. Even if the University manages to establish a satisfactory framework, the problem of inclusivity still remains. DU promotes 'advance diversity and equity' but trials based on the presumption that all candidates can afford proper internet connection and will not face hindrances in acquiring them goes completely against such beliefs. There are regions that do not have proper connectivity due to severe weather conditions and political policies and cyber cafes are not accessible in many areas due to regional lockdowns. Hence, there needs to be sufficient deliberation and the standing committee needs to come up with a solution to hold fair trials while keeping inclusivity in mind. Meanwhile, we have a couple of suggestions: [Contd. in the comments section]

A post shared by #BringBackECA (@bringbackeca) on

Amongst the several suggested alternatives, ‘online’ trials have popped up quite frequently. According to the Times of India, Atree suggested holding online trials. “But committee members cited lack of experts and infrastructure as the reason for doing away with even online trials,” he said. Even if the University manages to establish a satisfactory framework, the problem of inclusivity still remains. However, online trials continue to remain as unachievable a dream as OBEs in the manner that not all candidates can afford a proper internet connection, due to a varied number of reasons.

On Instagram, @bringbackeca– who has been advocating for the varsity to reinstate the ECA quota for its 2020 admissions, suggested alternatives.

Postponement – It is extremely improbable that the University of Delhi will begin their academic session online seeing the hardships students faced in attending online classes earlier this year and the inability of a large mass to give online examinations. In such a scenario, it is safe to assume that no academic advancements will occur before traveling becomes safe and the institutions start functioning normally. All trials can be postponed to the time colleges reopen and they can be held physically in colleges as they normally would have. Meanwhile, aspirants can be suggested to fall back on their back-up or safety colleges. [And] regional outsourcing – If the above scenario doesn’t seem reliable in terms of how long the pandemic lasts, the University can hold trials regionally. With the help of educational and professional institutions, preliminary stages of trials can be held within well-defined regions to increase the inclusivity. Schools and colleges can serve as centers while keeping proper social distancing measures in place. This is our take on the situation.

@bringbackeca on Instagram

The admissions portal will be open for the duration of a month- from 1st August 2020 to 31st August 2020. Students may choose to apply here under their preferred category. DU has 5% seats reserved for sports and ECA quota in each college. The flow of admissions under the ECA quota is expected to see unprecedented numbers this year. 

Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Sushrut Yadav
student.sushrut@gmail.com

Author