Devika Dutt


Politics and politicians- we all love to hate them. Be it at the national level or the Delhi University Students’ Union or our respective college student unions- we love to heap scorn on the nature of politics and raise our noses in disdain. The politicians don’t care about us, they are all just driven by their own personal agenda and just further them under the garb of doing acts for public welfare, we say. And an obvious consequence of this derision is considering our selves above this very popularly considered immoral, ignoble and unscrupulous activity. However, it is extremely hypocritical of us as we politicize almost every aspect of our own lives.

Basically the popular perception of a politician is a person who influences group opinion in his or her favor, irrespective of whether it will be beneficial for the group as a whole. Now, don’t we all do that? Except for the few people who are the epitomes of selflessness or are exceptionally blunt, we all engage in the very act that we all deride. Of course it is at a personal level. Various examples can be given on this count. Like scheduling a mass bunk on a day you really can’t come to college. Now why should everyone else not come if one person cannot? Why should everybody else suffer the missed attendances and the unfinished syllabus? But many a time we try really hard for this to happen. Of course to do this, you wouldn’t go about telling your classmates not to come because you have to get your hair dyed. You would go about lying, trying to give them to reason to not come when there really isn’t a reason. It would involve cooking up a story, which could be anything from a terrorist threat to calling an innocuous sneeze a definite symptom of impending death, depending upon the gullibility of your classmates, of course. Now, isn’t this wrong, immoral and unscrupulous in the very way politicians are infamous of being?

Another thing politicians are notorious for is doing whatever is possible and being in the good books of the people who can pull a few strings here and there, or somebody who could help you out. Well don’t we like to appease the people in the administrative offices of our colleges? Don’t we try very hard not to miff the person who makes really good notes? Don’t we all suck up to our teachers because they control our internals’ marks? Of course we will be bitching about them behind their backs, but as long as the sugary sweet façade is in place, the show goes on.

So, on the whole, we shouldn’t really just blame our politicians for being politicians. We all have a Machiavelli in us too and I think that’s what spices up our otherwise mundane routine. Acknowledge that politician in you and keep up the politics!

Disputes abound over proposed Fee Hike

The College Governing Body of St. Stephen’s College ratified the recommendations of the College Finance Committee which suggested a 40%- 57% increase in the fees, with effect from the current academic session, 2009-10. This move by the governing body has met with stiff resistance from several students, who consider the steep hike highly unwarranted.

The students have chosen to make a visible protest against the hike in fees by sporting black arm bands. A Third year student of the college says, “The magnitude of the fee hike is the problem here. A 10-15% increase in the fees would have been reasonable, but a 50% fee hike is outrageous. This may not affect the majority of the students, but we also need to keep in mind the people who will be seriously affected. We have to consider the students who will not be able to pay the raised fees and so we must protest against this unfair step.”

However, some teachers choose to take a different stand on the issue. Mr. Shankaran, a professor in the college says, “Several colleges like Khalsa College and Sri Vivekananda College have external funding from their respective affiliated institutions. However, the church which we are affiliated to, the Church of North India, does not provide us with funds. We are running a huge deficit and the situation is so bad, that we do not have enough funds to maintain day-to-day activities. We need to increase the fee so that the college can run smoothly and the infrastructure of the college can be maintained.”

Several representatives of students have had meetings with the bursar and the principal in order to clarify the reasons behind the fee hike and request them to reduce the amount incremented. The Bursar, Mr. Raghunathan, has therefore circulated a written explanation among the students giving reasons as to why the fee hike is justified.

The circular says that the increase in the fee is required simply because over the years costs have gone up while the fee has remained unchanged. The circular cites the example of the increasing price of books for the library, thus necessitating an increase in the library fee. Costs of scientific equipment too have seen a rise, resulting in a hike in the ‘Science Facility fee’. The ‘Student Aid Fund’ to help needy students has also been augmented while a ‘Development fund’ has been set up to help in the acquisition of more lecture and tutorial rooms and better laboratory facilities. The ‘Residence Fund’ of the college which is used to pay for salaries of the garden staff, security staff and mess staff and which is not covered by the UGC grant is also suffering a deficit which needs to be addressed. Moreover, the college has to pay the arrears of salary according to the VI th Pay Commission’s recommendations.

All this results in the minimum anticipated deficit to be over Rs 45 Lakhs and the situation is only expected to worsen during the course of this academic session. Says the bursar, “If the University undergraduate tuition fee is raised to Rs 100 a month, you can either choose to look upon it as a more reasonable amount than the original laughably small sum of Rs 15 per month, or you can choose to see it as more than a 600% fee hike. So what one needs to think of is the resulting total, rather than the amount by which the fee has been increased.”

Some students agree with the bursar. A Second year student says, “I don’t mind the increase in the fee since DU fees are in any case ridiculously low and moreover most kids are easily capable of paying the new fee, even if it means making a tiny compromise in the shopping department.”


North Indian Cuisine

As you hop down from the bus/auto and enter the swanky South Extension market, you will see a tiny, nondescript dhaba very close to the bus stand. This is the quintessential Delhi dhaba, with little space to sit, mouth watering food and dirt cheap prices all rolled into one.

Try the palak paneer if it’s vegetarian de rigueur for you. The naan is soft and good and the dal makhni scores decently as well. However I wouldn’t recommend the shahi paneer to those who are shy of food floating in oil.

Good service, reasonable rates and awesome food, this is precisely why one should come here.

The only thing you need to be careful about is hygiene, but then that is something you must overlook at a dhaba! The food can be a little too hot for the taste buds, however it is still worth it. Ask for extra helpings of pickles at this place, they are simply out of this world! In fact, they don’t even mind serving an extra helping of the main dishes without charging an extra penny. Bring on the food, we say!

On the whole, this dhaba is excellent value for money and an important stop over for Delhi foodies!

My rating: 4/5

South Indian Cuisine

dian food, but never have enough money on them to go to a Sagar, Saravana Bhavan or the likes, this is the place to be. This small dhaba located opposite the Jantar Mantar is one place that you simply cannot miss, crammed as it is at almost every hour of the day by hungry office goers out for a snack. You have to place your order with an authoritative man who in turn yells them out most incoherently to the cook. The cook, blessed with almost superhuman powers of comprehension, then proceeds to whip up anything you may have cared to order, from dosas to utthapams, in a matter of five minutes.

Idlis, vadas and a variety of other snacks, including a dessert called rava kesari, are also available and at a nominal price. The prices of the items range from Rs 15 for an agreeable quantity of upma to Rs 30 for atleast 15 different varieties of dosas. My personal favourite is the onion rava masala dosa. The portions of the idlis, vadas and dosas are enough to make it a meal in itself. Excellently prepared Sambar and coconut chuntey flow in copious amounts as there is no limit to the number of refills you may ask for. The place is also surprisingly hygienic for a dhaba, the premises is clean and the cutlery is washed thoroughly right in front of your eyes. The food is undoubtedly fresh and the number of regular patrons there suggest very few gastronomical hazards.

The only drawback is that there is no place to sit. There are a few stools randomly placed in front of the snacks centre but they are almost always occupied. People generally eat inside their cars and others improvise by sitting on other people’s cars. But there is ample space to stand and eat, which a majority of people can be seen doing. They also serve water there but for the more finicky customers mineral water can be purchased from the shop next door. In any case there is always an ice cream cart parked right outside doing brisk business.

My rating 3.5/5

Western Indian cuisine

I have lost count of the number of times I have read an article on India and come across the phrase “unity in diversity” or something along these lines. They say that India is a celebration of opposites living in harmony. A classic paradigm of this is Gujarati cuisine. Most Gujarati dishes are sweet, spicy and salty at the same time; a perfect balance between the vagrant tastes. Though most non-vegetarians aren’t a big fan of Gujarati food, vegetarian foodies often patronize this cuisine.

Most people often mislead by the name head towards Gujarat Bhavan to sample this cuisine. They return sorely disappointed because not only is the building in shackles but the food isn’t much to write home about either .In fact Gujarati food is served only two hours before dinner here! If you are on the look out to sample authentic and scrumptious Gujarati food, I suggest you give Gujarat Bhavan a skip as it is functions more as a guesthouse than a restaurant. Instead, treat your palette to Gujarati thalis at Rajdhani restaurant in CP instead.

A Gujarati meal starts with a specially prepared snack called Farsan accompanied with Chhas, a curd based drink very similar to the North Indian Lassi. Some of the popular Gujrati snacks here are Dhokla and Khandvi . The breads are different too.

Try the Thepla, a dried paraunthi that can be eaten even weeks after it has been prepared. My personal favourite is the Bajra ki Roti with Jaggery and lots of desi ghee. The Khichdi, here is delicious as well. Dessert favourites here are Aamras (mango extract) and Shrikhand (a milk based dessert with a slightly tangy taste).

It’s even popular among the college crowd because not only is the food delicious and cheap, its unlimited. Yes, you read it right. One can have unlimited helpings for a meagre 200 rupees per thali. Moreover, the food here is served with a genuine warmth and love that is uniquely Indian.

Eastern Indian Cuisine

Annapurna Sweets

The first thing you associate with Bengali food is probably Rosogulla. For the more erudite their knowledge might extend to shandesh, mishti doi, kachagola, chomchom or even kheer kadam. Can you see the patter emerging? An intricate part of their cuisine; sweets are also the most popular Bengali fare outside the boundaries of the state. This is evident from the number of sweet shops that have cropped up throughout the length and breadth of India, doing thriving business and popularizing the legend of the Bengali sweet tooth. One of the largest and most popular sweet chop chains has got to be Annapurna Sweets. Patronized by Bengalis and non Bengalis alike the place does brisk business as it dispenses mouthwatering sweets. The house favourites are the wide variety of shandesh and kachagola while the rosogolla and mishti doi see brisk business. Customers also swear by the salty snacks available there, especially the crispy shingara stuffed with diced rather than mashed potato in true Bengali style.

The authentic Bengali mishti and delectable snacks ought not to be missed by any true foodie or sweet aficionado.


1463, Chandni Chowk

13, DDA Market 4, CR Park

CSC, Market 2, CR Park

My Rating: 4/5

Contributed by Rachita Murali, Devika Dutt and Shraddha Gupta

Devika Dutt

One morning, as soon as I opened my newspaper, I was overwhelmed by the barrage of various, seemingly unrelated advertisements of diamond jewellery, mobile phones, ipods, cards, chocolates etc. A closer examination revealed a common link; all of them suggested “special gifts” for sisters on Raksha Bandhan. I immediately sprung into action. One look at the “special gifts” served as the impetus I needed to expedite the Rakhee mailing process, which I had otherwise completely forgotten. God bless the Festival industry!

As is evident nowadays, most festivals have been completely commercialized. Love or hate the fact, you certainly cannot ignore it. It makes perfect business sense as well. We Indians like to celebrate almost everything, from birthdays of a few hundred gods to familial ties, from homecoming   from exile to the evil hag dying in the fire instead of the innocent hero. All these celebrations generally entail huge amounts of expenditure on gifts and other rituals. So it was only a matter of time before entrepreneurs saw a promising new market in Indian celebrations. And they have capitalized, in every sense of the word, on our tendency to celebrate. Take raksha bandhan for example. Apart from the gifts mentioned above, other bizarre things like gold rakhis also take over the market before raksha bandhan.

Firms have also capitalized on the fact that convenience sells. So there are also several quick ways of sending gifts all over the world. So, while about a decade ago, brothers had to go visit sisters on rakhi to celebrate raksha bandhan, now a click of the mouse or the dialing of a number can do it. Various services give consumers the choice of sending gifts, both conventional and off- beat, anywhere in the world. Gifts include traditional puja thalis, candles on diwali, traditional mithai, flowers, electronic gadgets and packages like spa treatments. This has obviously worked as people find it difficult to visit other cities on every festival.

Certain capitalist enterprises have also single handedly introduced non- religious, international observances like Mothers’ Day and have completely established those times of the year as good times for business. This way, they have capitalized on the globalized Indian, who wouldn’t mind adopting a more western holiday.  As most of these holidays are dedicated to a person, it gives us an extra opportunity of telling how much that person means to us. Who would mind telling their father that he is special and loved on Fathers’ Day. Of course it isn’t just restricted to telling him that. They can be accompanied by all kind of presents- wacky, thoughtful, self made, expensive, useful- but all of them are likely to fill the coffers of the people who in a way brought these holidays to India. And the most amazing part is that internationally, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Friendship Day, Daughters’ Day etc have no particular date associated with it. So it is, in a way, decided by gift shops as to when these days are. Like Mothers’ Day is celebrated in India on the second Sunday of May, it is celebrated in Norway in February, in April in Nepal and so on.

So gift shop chains have completely established themselves, spread their tentacles all over the country and gripped India tightly so as to earn maximum revenue by capitalizing on human emotions. After all, it’s just good business!

In this digital age, online social networking has taken the world by storm. It is an easy and effective way of finding and staying in touch with friends and family and the perfect forum for expressing oneself. Most importantly, it is the best place to waste any surplus time on one’s hands. Facebook, the ruling King of networking sites has seemingly come up with the most innovative, though unproductive way of doing so – quizzes!

Every Facebook member takes these sometimes funny, almost always unimaginably silly quizzes. They range from “What does your birthday month say about you?” or “What historical character are you?” to “When will you die?”, and “Are you girly, a perfect princess or a tomboy?” or something to that effect! The common link in all these quizzes is that it reflects a human need for attention, if not from people, then from computer programmes. Everyone loves being analyzed and branded as something, even if it makes them more like everyone else in a time when everyone wants to be different just for the sake of it. Take for instance the quiz which analyzes people on the basis of their birthday month; there are only 12 months as compared to the thousands of people who take the quiz. So many different people with so many diverse characteristics cannot possible be pigeonholed into 12 categories. However, no one minds this. Legions of people who take this quiz are a testimony to this fact.

Some of the quizzes are amazingly bizarre. “When will you lose your virginity?”, “How many children will you have?”, “What kind of butt wiper are you?” are just some of the examples. Most quizzes have questions that involve praising oneself. For example, in the quiz “What do your eyes say about you?”, there is a question which says “what do people say about your eyes?”. The options are “They’re very beautiful”, “They’re very scary”, “They’re very deep”, “They’re really pretty”, “They match your personality” and “People don’t really talk about my eyes.” It is clear that whenever someone answers a question like this, they obviously don’t go about conducting surveys. They can either choose any of the first six rather narcissistic options or they can choose the last one. If they go for the latter, the result of the quiz would probably be something like “Your eyes are unexpressive”. Most people know that and end up choosing one of the first six options and thereby praising themselves. This way they also manipulate the quiz to get the answer they want. So basically, people like being analyzed in the hope that the image the quiz creates conforms to the image they have of themselves or is something better.  Vanity in its starkest form indeed!

However, one thing cannot be denied. These quizzes are a lot of fun and a nice way to relax. So what if it involves all the above mentioned things? After all, everybody on some level already knows these things. Bring on the quizzes!

The recent gay pride parade held in June was a riot of colours, a celebration of diversity, and a march against anti-gay laws. It was a procession that demanded freedom of choice and expression. And there could not have been a better place for its culmination than Jantar Mantar, the epitome of freedom of expression and Delhi’s prime demonstration destination. In fact , many DU protest marches / rallies have been known to culminate here..

Jantar Mantar of Delhi, one of the five observatories built by the 18th century Rajput king Maharaja Jai Singh II, has been the site for many a protest, demonstration, procession, strike and dharna ever since the Narsimha Rao government banned rallies at the Boat Club. This choice of location seems to be very apt as it is situated on Parliament Street, which leads up to the Parliament House. The dharnas at Jantar Mantar that have been going on for three to four years are a testament to this fact. Says Sheetal, a little girl holding fort at a bandh with her mother, “We have been here since 2006. We want the government to rehabilitate the Bhuj earthquake victims. There are still a lot of people who have not been given any support and are without shelter.”

Sub-inspector of Police at the Parliament Street Police station, Bhup Singh, said “There is at least one procession here every day. Most of the time the demonstrators restrict themselves to Jantar Mantar, but sometimes, with prior permission of the Police, come onto Parliament Street, in which case we need to block the road and divert traffic”. The traffic is diverted to the parallel road, Jai Singh Marg. This diversion of traffic causes great inconvenience and chagrin to commuters. Says Subroto Das, a retired executive, “the traffic is often diverted( because of the demonstrations). When that happens the buses do not come here. I have to walk a lot to get to the nearest bus stop. This disrupts my routine and is very irritating”. Agrees an employee of a bank located on Parliament Street, “Even though we employees have found alternative routes to reach our office, this almost-daily drama serves as a hindrance to our customers who have trouble reaching the branch. This causes minor losses to our business.” However, some daily commuters have acclimatised to the frequent disruptions. Says Promila, a personal assistant to an MLA, “These protests do not bother me. If one is underway, I simply walk a little to Janpath and catch my bus.”

These protests often get out of hand, and the police have riot control vehicles on standby. “If the protesters get too rowdy, we are forced to use water cannons and tear gas to contain the mob”, adds the Police officer. This tear gas also seeps into the offices on Parliament Street and leaves the employees with their eyes stinging for a long time. Moreover, the noise is an irritant to these employees.

Delhi University- One of the most important centres of higher education in the capital- seems to be one of the most popular smoking hubs as well, with its members lighting up all over campus. This situation persists despite the fact that DU is a non smoking zone as of February 15 2008, not to mention the fact that smoking in public places is an offence punishable by law as of October 2 2008.

Every college in DU declares itself to be a non smoking zone at their main gates. However students violate this rule. Says a student of Hindu College, “I do not believe in this law. I have the democratic freedom to smoke wherever I like and I do so. Nobody has asked me not to, till now.” Some colleges have niches, which smokers haunt, like the area behind the Nescafe in various colleges. So as long as non -smokers avoid these areas, the fact that people are still smoking on campus doesn’t bother them. However, most colleges have smokers scattered all over the campus, and most often at the most frequented hang outs, like the canteen, much to the chagrin of non-smokers. Says a student from St. Stephen’s College, “I have had many an argument with people who smoke in front of the arts and science dhabas in our colleges. But it somehow never seems to cease.”

For smokers in North Campus colleges, Delhi School of Economics is a safe haven. Numerous students and teachers can be seen puffing away over a cup of tea in front of the JP Tea Stall. Most people generally come here to socialize with people from other colleges. However there are some who come here exclusively to smoke. Says a student form Hansraj, who is a regular at D-School, “I come here to smoke as everybody smokes here. Nobody seems to mind. This area is fairly secluded and the police almost never come here.” This come as quite a surprise as there is a PCR van and many police officers constantly posted on the road between St Stephen’s and Hindu. When asked about why the smoking in the vicinity goes unchecked, the officer on duty responds, “We are here to provide security to the Dr Manmohan Singh’s daughter in St. Stephen’s. But if the smoking bothers you, you should give us a call.”

While most colleges have displayed laxity in enforcing the no- smoking rule, colleges like Miranda House and Jesus and Mary College have clamped down on smoking within their premises. Smokers have been forced to find places outside their colleges. Says a student of Miranda College, “The authorities are very strict about not smoking within college. So smokers generally smoke on a couple of benches which are located outside our hostel gates.”

The general consensus is that since the ban on smoking has not been very effective, a more concerted effort is required on part of the authorities if Delhi University is to be made a tobacco free zone anytime in the near future.

Over the years, Delhi University hasn’t exactly won accolades when it comes to infrastructure in the colleges. Freshers don’t expect much, and soon, like the old students, acclimatize to the infrastructure, or the lack of it. However, it seems that all this is going to change. Various colleges have begun to plan and implement various new projects to give a boost to the infrastructure in the academic session. From Wi-fi enabled campuses to snazzier sports facilities, improved hygiene conditions to better security around campus, Delhi University certainly seems to be on a revamp drive. While the over all atmosphere in the university is one of satisfaction, the occasional murmur of complaint cannot be ignored. DU Beat did a survey on the emerging face of DU.

The Sri Ram College of Commerce seems to be leading this change as it is the first college in DU to have started computer based learning in the classroom with the teachers using laptops and projectors to conduct classes. Says, Professor S. K. Aggarwal, “This new way of teaching is extremely convenient. It is easier to explain and easier for the students to understand as visual aids leave an impact.” The college has provided the laptops to the teachers at a subsidized rate. They are currently trying to tie up with companies like Dell and HP to extend this facility to the students. The students are very happy and welcome the change. Says Priyanka Bagai, a first year student pursuing Bcom honors in the college, “It’s a nice change and it saves a lot of time because now teachers don’t have to write on the black boards. Moreover, everything is there on the screen in the form of bullet points which makes it easier to understand.” The SRCC campus is also Wi-fi enabled and the classrooms are centrally air-conditioned, providing a comfortable classroom environment. Sri Venkateswara College is also making its Science block air-conditioned which they plan to extend to the Arts Block by next year.

The revamp drive is not just restricted to the classrooms. Some colleges have also renovated facilities like auditoriums and canteens that gives a facelift to the image of the college. The Hans Raj College Auditorium has been transformed from a decrepit building to a beautiful hall, which is fully air-conditioned. The auditorium, which wasn’t much to write home about, is now a source of pride for the students.

Hans Raj College, reputed for its brilliant sports infrastructure can boast of having the only electronic shooting range in DU to help hone the sport that has fetched India medals in the Olympics. Another boost to the sports infrastructure will be given by the construction going on for the commonwealth games. SRCC, along with other colleges like Hindu College and St. Stephen’s college in North Campus, has been the center for construction for the Commonwealth Games projects. Various sites have been dug up in north campus, which are to be the sites for the Aquatics Complex and for Rugby events. The University will be allowed to use the facilities after the Games. This will provide world-class facilities for the budding sportspersons in DU.

With sports facilities being adequately taken care of, the question on many students’ minds is that will basic facilities like toilets be given similar treatment. Now some colleges are beginning to look into this matter. The washrooms have been renovated in Miranda House and Hans Raj, much to the relief of the students there. Says a student of Hans Raj College, “The toilets were in a pathetic state and were generally frequented by the dogs in the college more than us. The stench used to be unbearable and they were used as a last resort. Renovation was long overdue.” Not only have they been made clean and hygienic, they have been given a swanky new look, which the students find very appealing. However, students from Sri Venkateswara College, Hindu College, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College have expressed their displeasure with regard to basic hygiene conditions in their college. On conditions of anonymity, they have that the problem with toilets is particularly bad as they are filthy and stink. Moreover, it is reported that there is a problem with the water taps as well, as some of them are dry, while some do not turn off and thus inundate the surrounding area with water

The death of a class twelfth student in a posh south Delhi school due to the alleged lack of medical facilities should draw attention to the fact that many colleges on campus face a similar problem. Many colleges on campus don’t have any sort of infirmary or a medical room. The few that do don’t have a trained doctor manning it. Take Jesus and Mary College for example, where the nurse nurse also doubles as a storekeeper. Lady Shri ram College is one of the few colleges where there is a medical room with a trained nurse in attendance. Reputed colleges all over the University do not have such facilities. If they do, none of the students are aware of it, which defeats the whole purpose of the room. Students from St. Stephen’s College, Hindu College, Miranda House, Hans Raj College, Sri Venkateswara College and many others were unable to confirm whether their college had such a facility, let alone provide details. Many a time, students requiring medication for some minor ailment have been unable to find it within their colleges

On the whole, the infrastructure situation in the University has ameliorated, drastically. Even as these measures are being perceived as a definite step in the right direction, but some students feel DU still has a long way to go.

Results Declared, students still in the dark.

Delhi University has declared the results of the annual examinations, 2009 for most courses. The announcement of results commenced in the last week of June. However, several students studying in North Campus colleges have complained of the inaccessibility of the same due to the irregular maintenance of the official DU website,

South campus colleges have not faced this problem as their results are not displayed on the official DU website. All the required information is available to them on, a website dedicated to south campus colleges of DU, which is regularly updated.

Says Dikshant Bagh, a student of Electronics in Hansraj College, “I found out about the declaration of results from the south campus website. The official website did not display the results until two days after the declaration. This distressed me greatly as I saw the number of failures on the south du website and had to wait two days to find out my own result”. The situation was worse for philosophy (Honours), the results of which were displayed a full six days after their declaration. Many anxious students were forced to rush to their respective colleges to find out their result, defeating the whole purpose of the website. The problem was compounded for out-station students, who spent many nail-biting moments on the phone trying to find out their result. The website in question seems to have a track record for failing at crucial moments.

Says, Resham Manaktala of Lady Shri Ram College, “The website is not user friendly. It kept hanging when the date sheet came out. It also does not provide specific information for many Post Graduate programmes offered in DU.”

Courses whose results are declared include philosophy honours, geography honours, chemistry hons , bbs , journalism ,psychology and applied psychology hons, and maths honours. Most results are expected to be out by  July 21.

( The writer can be contacted at [email protected])