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Through the Pages of History: University of Delhi

Let’s look back at the history of those red walls that we have been unable to even visit. Read ahead to know more about the University of Delhi.


Note: The information presented below has been taken from the History section of various College sites. To read anecdotes from the olden days of the University, one can check Zikr-e-Dilli which is doing a marvellous job of documenting Delhi’s past. 

Being at home for more than a year now, when the supposed task that should have been for me was to roam the streets of Delhi, visit fests of all colleges, find libraries to visit and know the University that has been there in the city for decades which has shaped so many lives and discourses, I let out a sigh.

So apart from being miserable the most expected task from me was to try, to not just be patient, but to try to know the University and the city of Delhi from here, this screen. So after visiting many pages, sites and blogs I bring to you some chunks of the history of the University of Delhi. 

Original Sites:

A lot of colleges of the University were never located at their current positions. For Hindu College, its journey began in 1899 when it was located at Kinari Bazar (Chandni Chowk). A boarding house served as a student residence. Then in 1908, the College shifted to a building donated by Rai Bahadur Sultan Singh in Kashmiri Gate. And it was only in 1953 when it found its current building. Even the colleges got to move unlike us. 

Talking about Shivaji College, it was originally formed to educate the youth of the rural area of Matiala. The Government of Delhi then took the trusteeship into its possession and relocated it to Karampura in 1967. It then found its current place in 1976 only. Whereas the Lady Shri Ram College was situated in a school building in Daryaganj originally. 

Meanwhile, Dyal Singh College has the most interesting story to share. It was originally established in Lahore in 1910 and moved to Karnal after the Partition of India and then came to Delhi in 1952 and only after ten years did it find its present location. (Too much travelling!) Kamla Nehru College as well was located in Defence Colony previously and then moved to Hauz Khas.

Even a lot of colleges like St. Stephens, Hindu College, Lady Hardinge Medical College for Women and Ramajs College were affiliated to the Punjab University.

Renaming Names:

Yes, places, colleges and things were renamed even before Yogi Adityanath made it trending, but with a difference in motives. Kamla Nehru College at the time of its inception in 1964 was called ‘Government College for Women’. After three years it got the name ‘Modern College for Women’. In 1972 only did it get the name Kamla Nehru College. 

It was in 1920 when the Commercial College was set up under the Commercial Education Trust in Delhi by Lala Shri Ram. On the occasion of its Silver Jubilee in 1951, it was named what we know today as the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC).

Participation in the Freedom Movement:

If you think it’s now that student politics at the University of Delhi is very active, we are obviously unaware of its participation in the struggle for Independence. 

The Government even cancelled the wheat permits of hostels of three colleges Indraprastha College, Hindu College and SRCC for their active participation. This ban continued until 1942 and as reported by The Hindustan Times the reason behind it was, 

The immediate cause of cancellation of the wheat permit of the college seemed to be the fact that the girls of the college had participated in a ‘rakhi’ expedition. They had sent rakhis to their Muslim brethren to emphasise Hindu-Muslim unity and communal harmony.

During the Quit India Movement on August 10, 1942 “a vociferous gathering of Hindu College students and ladies from Indraprastha College collected outside Stephens’. The crowd marched down Alipur Road, passing en route IP College whose authorities had shut the gates to prevent the girls from joining in. They resourcefully jumped down the walls assisted by willing Stephanian hands and the procession continued down Chandini Chowk, shouting slogans.

Ajit Bhattacharya, late veteran Journalist.

The students of IP College remained involved in the freedom struggle to this extent that they did not organise any academic or entertainment programmes in 1942 as told in the book  University of Delhi (1922-1997) by Dr Aparna Basu which sketches out the history of the University in those years. The students of IP College even organised a Charkha association against the orders of their Principal. Classes and assemblies were boycotted, marches were organised and national flags were hoisted regularly at the University. 

Read Also: “Editorial: On Revisiting the Past and Creating History

Featured Image Credits: Zikr-E-Dilli (@zikredilli)

Kashish Shivani

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Kashish loves capsicum, art and talking. A.k.a. Aloo Bukhara, she is a self proclaimed performing artist keen on change and introductions.