Brij Pahwa


Recently, the University of Delhi ordained that the security guards employed by it would not be given any infrastructural aid while they would be on duty. As a matter of fact even chairs are not being provided by DU and it has closed down all the guard rooms.

Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA) in its press release has categorically condemned such a decision and has called it savage. The reasons behind this order are still unknown, although there are some speculations. According to DUTA, when they asked for a reply for the same, the university did not give satisfactory responses. It transfered the burden on the contracting agencies and said that it has nothing to do with same and is only plying to the rules given to it by the agencies.

When DUTA posed more questions to DU, one of them being, “Why aren’t the guards who are employed by DU without a contractual agreement not being provided with infrastructural facilities?”, the University had no answers for the same.

“Such a mandate is outrageous and barbarous”, said Nandita Narain, president of DUTA. “University must give clear answers for the same.”, she added.

It is Francis Lawrence making you delve into the world of science fiction again with the sequel of Hunger Games –  Hunger Games : Catching Fire. Adapted from the novel by Susan Collins, part two of the proposed four part franchise certainly leaves you hungry for more. Although being a sci-fi, this particular movie connects more with the public sentiment than the previous one, specially due to its dark satire on those in power. It highlights the fact that people’s minds are run by the state and it could do anything in order to resist change. Yes, it always wants the status quo to be maintained for its own benefits. A certain example of exercise of power given by Steven Lukes.

Unlike the previous part, which focused more on the deadly game, this one is an amalgamation of ‘The Mortal game’ and with it, squalid politics. Focus is on the role of Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen) whose initial anxiety in the movie is shown in the form of a trope, i.e. sitting in a vacant compartment looking out of the window, as if stuck in a cobweb.

Having won the last hunger games, she has again been manouevered by the state to play the next years’ games, so as to silence the revolution of District 12 against the Capitol. While she competes with the reality, she hasnt been able to overcome her past. And with the capitol wanting more from her, will she be able to resolve her anxiety issues and see things clearly and instead of  supporting the capitol, will she be able to lead an uprising? Yes, the end leaves you in a state of dilemma, to think about what comes next.

The cast also includes Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) who partners Katniss in the game. Along with some great sets and costumes, the cinematography is of an excellent level giving a synergic effect. The computer stimulated graphics too take the movie to an unprecedented level.

The shift to the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) in Delhi University also led to the incorporation of the much hyped and criticised Foundation Courses. The University also sanctioned some books and extra classes in adherence to the same. The courses sublimed into the regular college hours easily and students accepted them as a part of their curriculum. But now, with the culmination of the 1st semester exams, many eyebrows are being raised on the mere basis of these courses.

The emerging concern here is with respect to the questions that propped up during the examinations. As we approached the students to gather their sentiments on the same, one could easily figure out the angst in them. “I came to college to receive education of higher quality and learn things my school life prepared me for 13 years, not to do things as juvenile as writing a paragraph on national harmony”, said Saptarshi Lahiri, pursuing political science from SGTB Khalsa College. The questions which came in the exams merely connoted themselves to the respective courses.

For example, a student had to write an essay on the ‘Importance of festivals in integrating different religions of India’, in the exam of FC-Hindi, something which he/she could have written on the basis of mere general knowledge. Not only Hindi, but various other FCs had similar questions.

“Anyone could have answered them (questions) without even attending a single class”, said Roopali Handa, a student from SRCC, while referring to a question, ‘To write an article on social networking sites’ which came in the exam of Information Technology. Similar reactions were seen from those who came out after giving the exam for FC – Maths. ‘The material provided in the book and questions asked in the exam were irrelative. For example, Q5 required a person to make a bar graph or pie chart for which there are few methods, which were though not mentioned in book’, said Kalee Kapoor of Matreyi college.

One can easily figure out the increasing rage pertaining to FCs among the students. With DUTA demanding a rollback and the rising sentiments of students who are unhappy with the inclusion of FCs, along with 44 colleges against the FYUP, the Foundation Courses as well as the FYUP seem to be in deep trouble.

With just months to go for the state elections, in October, the Congress-run Delhi government had proposed a revolutionary plan in favour of the students having their domicile in Delhi. The plan offered an average of 68 percent reservation in 28 colleges of the University of Delhi. Not leaving behind in the race to polls, the Bhartiya Janta Party too joined the track by claiming the decision as being instigated by its own party agenda. Nonetheless, the stakes are high and whether its a serious reservation docket or a fantastical poll mantra is still a matter of debate.

If passed, this plan would ensure that not less than 90 percent of seats would be reserved in colleges fully funded by the state government and about 50 percent in those partially funded by it. With the state elections nearing and taking into context the huge number of seats being reserved, this might eventually be seen as a politically-driven manoeuvre or even more less, a mere rhetoric.

Though, even after a month, the decision is still being condemned by various student bodies and has flared up the reservation debate once again with many terming it as a directed political twist. “It is a populist stunt and a political gimmick.”, said All India Students’ Association’s (AISA) National President, Sandeep Singh. “The state government should better take interest in improving the primary and medium level education system.”, he added.

ABVP is too flowing in the same wind. “DU is a central university, and state goverment should refrain from using it for its own poll agenda.” said ABVP’s National Executive Member, Raj Kumar Sharma. When asked about the similar poll agenda by BJP, he made a clear distinction between the two parties saying that ABVP works in interest of students and has its own perception.

The Bhartiya Janta party too came out all guns blazing, with Dr. Harshwardhan, the Chief Ministerial hopeful from the party referring this to as indirect plagiarism. “Our party’s national president Shri Rajnath Singh ji has already raked up the issue several times and Congress has just taken a leaf out of his book.”, he said.

Though, Congress is getting support on this from the party’s students wing National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), with President Rohit Chaudhary fully supporting the plan. “Certain DU colleges are funded by the state government and hence Delhi students must have the advantage of reservation.” he said.

Aam Aadmi Party, the first time contender in the State elections refused to comment on the issue.

With varying approaches to the issue from the different contesting parties, it might be adhering to poll tactics keeping in mind the large vote bank of young voters in the stake.

Image Credit: Sahil Jain