Devika Dutt


The Quizzing Society of Hindu College, Manthan organized its annual Quizzing Fest, Por Que 2010 from the 1st to the 4th of February. The fest had eight quizzes in total including a General Quiz, a Sports quiz, a Trivia Quiz and an Open Quiz which was conducted by quizmaster Mit Chaudhary. The fest also played host to several crowd pullers like the ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ quiz, the Tintin Quiz and the Stanley Kubric Quiz. Another quiz which saw wide participation was the Music, Entertainment, literature and Arts- abbreviated as M.E.L.A- quiz. A rolling trophy for the best quizzer was up for grabs over and above Rs 28000 as cash prizes. Soumya Pandey of Delhi College of Engineering trumped all other quizzers to claim the trophy for the Best Quizzer.

The Debating Society of Miranda House organized a parliamentary debate, “Manzar- 2010” from 30th January to 2nd February. The theme for the debate was ‘Deconstructing the Millennium Goals- Envisioning beyond 2015’. The format of the debate was a 3 member parliamentary with five preliminary rounds followed by the quarterfinals, the semifinals and the finals. The rounds of debating were interspersed with several seminars and talks that were conducted by eminent personalities on issues like poverty, hunger and child nourishment among others. The debate saw participation from several colleges across Delhi University.

The team from Ramjas College comprising Aanchal, Siddhart Thyagarajan and Karandeep Khanna won the debate while Phrithvi Rohan Kapoor from Ramjas College as well, was adjudged the best speaker.

The activists of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) held a protest demonstration against the Government of Australia for their failure to stop the racially motivated attacks on Indian students studying in the country. The protest demonstration was held in the afternoon of Wednesday, the 27th of January in front of the Australian Embassy.
Students shouted slogans and held boards which displayed slogans demanding action against the perpetrators of the attacks and better protection of Indian students there. They also requested the intervention of the United Nations for the protection of Indian students. The National General Secretary and the Delhi In-charge, Shanhnawaz Choudhary and the Delhi President of NSUI, Arun Yadav, were also present.
“Today, on behalf of all students of the country, the NSUI has staged a protest in front of the Australian Embassy (High Commission) against atrocities committed on Indian students in Australia. Indian students are being tortured in the same manner as the British harassed Indians a century ago. We appeal to our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh to involve the UN in order to ensure the security of Indians in Australia. If these attacks will happen again, the NSUI will stage protest all across India,” said Shahnawaz Choudhary, General Secretary, NSUI.
The protesters tried to march towards the Australian High Commission, but were prevented from doing so by the police stationed there. Since staging demonstrations in the vicinity of the Australian High Commission is not allowed, the protestors were lathi charged and arrested.

Change the Education System, and fast!

One rather very enjoyable movie that made news at the box office recently was “3 Idiots”. It could be one of those movies which everyone watches, has a lot of fun, buys the DVD and always remembers. Or it could be one of those movies that everyone watches, has a lot of fun, and forgets. However, all that aside, it was definitely one of those movies that raised a very important issue which can, under no circumstance, be dismissed and forgotten: our education system.

One of the major flaws in our education system is the characteristic of being extremely exam oriented. To quite an extent, classroom teaching at any level; be it primary, secondary or high schools or our colleges; is undertaken keeping in mind the “exam point of view”. Classroom discussion is minimal, and it generally takes place, if at all, at the beginning of the session and then too is quashed out in the race to finish the course before the exams. Students are, therefore, molded to care about the exam and marks rather than actually study a subject because they enjoy it. They are not encouraged to think creatively or to explore their subject in more depth, in fear of digressing from the prescribed syllabi. Learning is limited to what is in the textbook, and very few students actually think beyond them. Many of them lose interest and therefore the increasing trend among colleges to offer marks for attendance to make students attend classes. Another reason for this may also be because of a deeper social problem. Students are often forced to study disciplines that they are not really interested in, because society considers other disciplines worthless as they deviate from societal norms. Therefore classes are considered to be a burden. But even the students who choose a subject of their choice are often condemned to being incentivized only by marks for attending classes due to the poor quality of teaching. Learning then becomes learning about how astutely to attempt an exam and maximizing marks from it. Exams also then become a burden because students are forced to study something they are uninterested and uninvolved with. Students learn very little about the subject. Very few graduates actually remember what or why they studied a particular thing even though they spent 3-4 years studying it!

This does not mean we do away with exams. Quite to the contrary exams are required to test how well students their subject. But it shouldn’t be the sole purpose of the educational institutions. Teachers should be encouraged to make the subject they are teaching as interesting as they can. Students will then be encouraged to study and understand their subject and actually enjoy it. Marks in the exams will automatically follow. Exams should be therefore made more challenging. They shouldn’t just test the reading of a textbook, but the application of the subject.

Many efforts are now being made to include everyone in the education system by opening for schools and colleges and reaching out to the hinterland of the country. Changing the orientation of the system will ensure quality along with the increasing quantity, so that at the end of the day we have well educated individuals in our society
– Devika Dutt

Why blame the Education System? Change the Economy first.

Here comes another full frontal masala Bollywood flick with all its traits of ridiculously simplified problems accompanied by naïve and optimistic solutions, all leading up to a nice Happily ever after. Made in the clichéd scheme depicting the spectacular rise of the underdog and his subsequent victory over the authoritative bullies, this movie too contains the wish fulfilling aspect of all such feel good movies.
The problem of the education system has been uprooted from its socio-economic context and posited as an individual case of a ridiculous misguided authority figure, the Director of an institute, imposing his personal brand of competitive uncreative narrow minded approach to learning over the students. The answers to the problem are simple, follow your heart and the world will automatically ensure your well being. Practical concerns and true to life issues are passed over lightly with mere emotional drama. If the real world intrudes it is through the means of a stylized, exaggerated and hence comical representation of a poor stereotypical family.
Look at the method of learning that has been critiqued in the movie. Instead of simply stating that learning by rote is wrong, why not take a look at why this form of learning developed in the first place. The principles behind our education methods aren’t really to blame. Learning theory is a necessary basis before embarking on any practical application. If one does not remember the dates of a famous war one can scarcely understand why historical forces played out as they did at the time. Without remembering the theorems by which one arrived at a formula one can scarcely understand why the formula when applied in a problem will yield results. The reason we make fun of American Education and the reason why their learning centres are chockfull of Indians, Chinese and the Japanese is because they have got too focused on the practical education and lost sight of theory altogether. Hence the ideal solution would of course be to have a combination of both, learning theory and understanding application. However does it really work that way? When competing in a congested rat race of education for a few jobs and fewer resources do students have the time and leisure to think their subject through and approach it roundly? Won’t most end up taking the shortest route of bunging in learning by the shovelful to get ahead in the race and clinch a college, a course, a job? This problem is clearly uniquely Indian, and as such is it because the Indian education system is at fault or the Indian socio-economic system?
Why is the education ‘system’ being called a problem? What is this system? Isn’t the system merely a collective noun for us, all of us, every single one of us? In which case, how many of you, after seeing the movie, will actually go back and change your course or career based upon your interests? I am guessing very few will actually take this step, despite however much they enjoyed the film, for the simple fact that this is real life while the latter was a film. In real life this system exists because realities such as an income, a career and the need to earn a living exist. A job interviewer is not really going to hand you a job despite low marks and bad conduct reports simply because you have the guts to refuse the job they are offering. Indeed it is unlikely to even get a job interview under the circumstances if not for already being enrolled in an ‘elite’ course under an elite college, which he must have also done via good marks. Consider the difference between the film and the book upon which it is based. The Amir Khan character in Five Point Someone also chooses to follow his passion, but he becomes a research student with a tiny stipend. This outcome would have scarcely thrilled a good movie audience however, so the movie made the same character, not a moderately accomplished scientist with a stable government job, but a stupendously gifted one whom multibillionaire firms are after. One need hardly go into the improbability of such a situation. Not everyone can become a great tennis star or an actor simply because of one’s interests. Interest takes you only so far, effort perhaps a bit further, but there are frankly too many people in the world for everyone to be able to do what they please. Competition just can’t be done away with as long as there are fewer resources than there are people. Solve the problem of population, solve the problem of poverty and ensure basic facilities for everyone without the threat of starvation or the slums looming over our heads and we may be able to pursue our passions without care to monetary benefits. However as long as all companies prefer engineers over applicants from other courses and swimming stars of yesteryear end up driving buses to earn their keep, certain professions will always be preferred over others and the rat race to enter these courses will ultimately culminate in a struggle to hog learning rather than enjoying the course.

-Pragya Mukherjee

Human civilization has been progressing at an astronomical rate. As human population grows, we have started conquering previously unconquered territories on earth, taming them and converting them into urban concrete jungles. However, it seemed that the eyes could get a break from the grayish hues when we saw trees within our cities, inhabited by birds, bees and other arboreal animals. It seemed that if we tried hard enough, we could still get closer to the nature we chose to conquer to lay the building blocks of our civilization. However, this too now seems to be rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

A recent study revealed that bees, which pollinate almost all fruits and vegetables and in a way help sustain all life on earth, have started to disappear. The buzz of bees is being muffled by the buzz of vibrating mobile phones. This phenomenon of disappearing bees has been noticed in not only the US, UK and other developed nations, but closer home in Kerala. It seems that this is happening because of the electromagnetic radiations emitted by cellular transmission towers which hamper the bees’ navigational abilities and leads to a collapse of their colonies. A study also revealed that these radiations also result in thinner membranes of sparrows’ eggs and result in underdeveloped embryos and weaker sparrow chicks. This has already caused a decrease in the numbers of several species of birds founds in cities.

The way things are going, in the near future, all signs of nature- animals and plant life- will eventually disappear. It really isn’t as preposterous as it sounds. As civilizations have progressed we have slowly and steadily encroached upon the territories of already existing animals. Forests were cut down to make way for cities, so in order to make our homes we destroyed the homes of all the creatures that already lived there. For a moment it seemed we could co-exist. But this evidence proves otherwise as really nothing much can be done about it. Cell phones are absolutely indispensable today. So reducing the number of phones and hence towers is completely out of the question. Then we could consider moving the birds and the bees to the forests, but eventually those forests will also be encroached upon.

It isn’t really only about mobile phones either. It’s what they signify. They signify the changing necessities for the human race. Ten years ago, cell phones were a luxury, but today they cannot be done without. So what might be a luxury today and still can be done without if it, say, harms other creatures it can be done without. But ten years down the line, if it becomes an indispensible necessity. And when the essentials are considered, all aesthetic sense and the interests of all other creatures can take a backseat.  So as the human race moves forward it inevitably walks all over all other life forms. However, this disregard is bound to come around and prove catastrophic for humans. It’s just a matter of time.

Delhi University for a good number of years now has three percent seats reserved for students with disabilities. However, a large portion of these seats are left vacant. This speaks volumes about the conditions of the facilities for these students and their accessibility to the disabled students. This apathy of the university, which is clearly reflected in the state of these facilities, makes it difficult for an average student with a disability to fare in DU.

Says Mukesh, a first year visually impaired student, “Since I am new to the college, it is rather difficult making my way around. The bus stop is fairly far from the college which makes my task of travelling to and from college harder. As far as notes go, I record the lecture in the class and type it out later. My peers have helped me out greatly. However, there are very few course books in Braille, none in the library. This makes compiling my notes much more difficult.” He was unaware of the existence of a Braille Notice Board. Another visually impaired student, Yogesh, although aware of the recently installed Braille notice board pointed out that no substantially helpful notices have been put up on it yet, rendering it quite redundant. A similar situation exists in several colleges like Hindu college, Kirori Mal college, Hansraj College, St. Stephen’s College and others.

It is relatively easier for wheelchair bound students as there are ramps in most DU colleges. However, barring Lady Shri Ram College for Women, almost no other DU college has special washrooms for them. Even though there is very little regard for these differently abled students in terms of physical infrastructure, the condition of these students is somewhat ameliorated by the attitude of other students towards them. Most people are very friendly and helpful and treat them like any other student. However, this is a substitute for the essential facilities that the university is supposed to provide to its students.

The elected students’ body of Delhi University, the Delhi University Student’s Union (DUSU) organized a protest march on Thursday, the 12th of November and called for a University Bandh on Friday, the 13th of November to protest against the unexpected hike in the examination fee, bus fare hike, metro fare hike and shutting down of the DUSU office in North Campus.

Students' strikeThe student body, already two months into office, is yet to come out with a concrete agenda as to how they will fulfill their election promises. However, they have evidently already taken a stand on issues like the hike in examination fees and the metro and bus fare hike. As reported earlier, DUSU also protested against the DUSU office, on Chattra Marg in North Campus, being put under lock and key. The protest march therefore started from the DUSU office and moved on to Kranti Chowk, from where it progressed to Patel Chest Chowk, and finally, after passing through Mall road near Khalsa College went back to the DUSU office.

Manoj Chaudhary, the President of DUSU, in context of the examination fee hike said, “The University authorities should have discussed the matter of the fee hike with the students’ union before an implementing the revised fee structure. We need to protest against this commercialization of the university, as education is an investment in the national interest. We are students’ representatives, and we need to discuss the matters like these as they directly affect welfare of students of the University. The University has no right to undermine the Students’ Union.”

The DUSU also believes the hike in the fare of the public transport system of buses and the metro is uncalled for and hence staged the protest walk and called for a bandh. Incidentally the ABVP dominated DUSU panel called bandh coincided with the bandh called by the BJP against the hike in bus fares. As a result ABVP party workers also led a protest march from Deshbandhu College and ended in Nehru Place. During the course of this march, the party workers stopped buses, shouted slogans and burnt effigies of the Chief Minister. This disruption of the public transport system caused much annoyance to the various students travelling to and from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, as their fest, “Tarang” was underway. Says a student of the college on the condition of anonymity, “The DUSU claims that they work for the welfare of the students. I fail to understand how it’s achieving this by being a hindrance to something as essential as public transport. Instead of helping us, they are actually making things more difficult for us by creating such a ruckus.”

The office of The Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) on Chhatra Marg in North Campus is under lock and key and is awaiting demolition to make way for new lecture halls for students following post graduate courses in Delhi University. This is being done due to the dearth of space in the Arts Faculty to hold these classes.  The four member DUSU panel has, quite literally, nowhere to go.

Following the implementation of the reservation of seats for OBC candidates, DU has had to increase the number of seats it offers. However there is not sufficient space in the existing faculties of DU to accommodate these students. Therefore, a new faculty is being constructed for these students in place of the erstwhile DUSU office. The four member DUSU panel has temporarily taken up office in a few rooms of the Proctor’s Office. The new DUSU office is supposed to be built in between the Arts Faculty and the Campus Law Centre on Chhatra Marg in North Campus.

Says Kriti Wadhera, Vice President of DUSU, “Our basic aim is to work for the welfare of the students of Delhi University. Therefore, we have agreed to shift our office from the old one to the new one, when it is completed, even though it is less accessible and smaller as the students’ interests are paramount.” However, it seems that this new office that is being built is also temporary as there are talks of a Secretariat being built for DU which will reportedly house not only the DUSU office, but that of the Dean, the Proctor, Delhi University Teachers’ Association and so on as several other official buildings of DU are also slated for demolition.

However, the construction of the new office and the demolition of the old office was to be completed by the 15th of October so that DUSU could finally take up office at one place after Diwali, but these commitments have not been met, much to the displeasure of DUSU. Says Manoj Chaudhary, President of DUSU, “We were promised that we would be able to commence our affairs from the new office after Diwali, but the construction is nowhere near completion even now (16th October). So we will hold a meeting on the 20th to deliberate on the current state of affairs. If things continue this way, we will start a protest to get the old office reopened, probably from the 21st.”

Even though the wider perception about Delhi University is that it is completely chilled out, believe it or not, and most students will believe it, it gets pretty hectic sometimes. With attendance woes, several assignments and sometimes travelling long distances to college, everybody looks forward to a break. And what better way to take a break but by going on a trip with all your dearest pals from college? So all  the bright (not dull) Jacks and Jills in DU have been packing their bags and heading off on college trips.

These trips are known to be really affordable, a lot of fun, and obviously a magnet for scandal and gossip. Of course, they may also be educational. Most of the trips happened over the extended 15th August weekend or are going to happen in the upcoming October break. Most of the trips head off to hill stations to get away from the scorching heat. The Economics department of St Stephen’s college went to Dalhousie for 4 days and they only had to shell out Rs 2500. The students of BA programme went to Rohtang Pass while the History Department went to Gwalior and Khajuraho to admire the beautiful sculptures in the temples in the Madhya Pradesh village.

The trips that are scheduled to commence this October Break include the excursion of the Botany Department of Hansraj College to Dharamshala and Mcloedganj for almost a week at a very inexpensive price of Rs 3000. The English Department of Lady Shri Ram College will be going to an adventure camp, called Camp Bodhisatva in Rajgarh in Himachal Pradesh where the students will be able to participate in all kind of adventure sports. The cost is somewhere between Rs 3000 and 3500.

However some other departments have not been so lucky. For instance, the Economics Department of Hansraj College has not had a trip in a very long time. The annual trip was cancelled apparently due to misdemeanours of a few students some years back. The Economics Department of Hindu College has also not had an official trip in a while, though the students have organized unofficial trips themselves.

Delhi University has taken the mammoth task of educating the youth upon its shoulders. And in this endeavour, the university provides a wide range of courses. From a BA in Chinese to a B.Sc in Food Technology, DU has a lot to offer to its students. And now, it seems, the university has unintentionally added another course to its rather long list: that in animal relations. No, it isn’t official, but with the wide variety of animals on campus, students have no option but to deal with them and acclimatize themselves to their furry friends.

Almost all DU colleges have canine presence on campus. A stray nonchalantly wandering into a classroom whilst a class is in progress is a common sight. It hardly elicits a reaction beyond the initial sniggers. Only a classroom full of freshers, who are not yet used to such idiosyncrasies of the establishment of DU, are fascinated by it, and now, even they are getting used to it. Of course, like students, even the dogs have favourite haunts. A particular dog haunts the lover’s point in Hansraj College. Another in is permanently stationed in The Girls’ Common room there. While most students consider them part of the furniture, a lot of them are scared of them which actually serves as disincentive enough for not going to the GCR. However, Hansraj also has its fair share of dog lovers. Rumour has it that a student was allowed by a teacher to take her dog inside class and actually got double attendance for that class. A similar situation exists In Hindu College. A white dog with sparse black spots is found to be sleeping perpetually in the central foyer of the college. Different groups of students have christened the dog differently. Another litter of puppies has recently appeared in Hindu and can be seen wandering around campus. A few good samaritans can be seen petting and feeding these doggies.

However, the dogs In St. Stephen’s are close to almost all the students’ hearts. It seems there that everyone loves the dogs. Of course, some may disagree, but they keep this to themselves- such is the devotion to the four legged creatures. These dogs are well fed as they get the leftovers from the café. They also have unique names. Floppy, Pinky (who is actually back), Sicko are the well known ones. These dogs are integral part of the lives of the students here, especially the ones who live in the Residence.

On the other hand, Lady Shri Ram College for Women is known for the many cats that proudly walk about. These cats become alarmingly thin during the vacations, but are nourished back to health as soon as college reopens. There’s a really friendly tabby cat who is everyone’s favourite. Another ochre couloured cat is apparently drawn by the slightest whiff of food but vanishes as soon as anyone tries to pet it. There also an elusive black cat, who is said to be very beautiful, but is tricky to spot.

Jesus and Mary College has a small zoo within itself. With monkeys, cats and dogs scampering about the place, it is a haven for animal lovers. Delhi College for Arts and Commerce also has a monkey problem, but has a langur around to shoo away the lesser simians. However, students allege that the langur is kept in inhumane conditions in a small dark room. Stephen’s also has a langur, Chetak, but he doesn’t stay on campus.
But the prize for the most bizarre animal on campus goes to Dyal Singh College. They have pigs on campus! Some students are utterly disgusted as it definitely speaks volumes about the arrangement for keeping the college clean, or the lack thereof. However, students claim, that with the closing of a nearby drain, the number of pigs have significantly reduced.