Guest Writer


Trigger Warning – Sensitive content with mentions of Rape and Abuse

On 3 May 2023, an ethnic clash erupted in India’s north-eastern state of Manipur between the Meitei people, the majority of whom live in the Imphal Valley, and the tribal group hill areas, which includes the Kuki and Zo peoples. Many houses and vehicles were burned while many people are forced to leave their homes with their livelihoods destroyed.

 As the ethnic hostilities in Manipur enter their second month, the situation is far from normal. The state is still experiencing violence and terror, with over 50,000 people driven out and 100 people dead. The state, which was once known as the ‘jewel of India’ because of its stunning beauty and beautiful environment, is now making headlines due to the Hill-Valley Divide. Crimes against humanity are on the rise, with people getting targeted purely on the basis of their identity, with no fault of their own.

In times of turmoil, there is also a spark in protests, candle marches, and awareness campaigns about the issue. Such efforts are particularly undertaken by the youth and student community, who are consistently attempting to raise knowledge about the issue.

Thousands of such students from the north eastern states attend Delhi University, and the city itself is home to many others who travel in pursuit of a better life and possibilities. With rising atrocities back at the home state, people here in Delhi are also at a greater risk of attack.

One such instance happened in May 2023.

A group of Kuki students were followed and attacked by a group of 30 other students who identified themselves as belonging to Meitei community.

–according to source

Students from both communities have expressed similar safety worries, leading to a number of peaceful protests in Delhi. These gatherings are intended to provide a safe setting for students to discuss their traumas and experiences, as well as connect with the entire Delhi University circle in order to obtain additional support and aid as needed.

As a result, it’s vital that we give safe platform to these students so that they can share their voices and also raise awareness. While one might search up political data, lookup the main cause of the entire issue on the internet, but this is Manipur Violence from the perspective of those who have experienced the horror firsthand.

This is about their journey and individual experiences.

I’ve been preparing for UPSC for the last two years; I was set to give the paper this time. When the clashes happened, I came to Delhi as it was my center for exams. But I was constantly worried about my family and people who were back at home. I couldn’t sleep the night before my exam. Just hours later, I received the message from our villagers, that they failed to defend our village.  When we left our village we did not even take a blanket, our cattle was still there, we had hopes of returning some day! But I missed my UPSC paper while my home was burned down in Manipur

A former student of Delhi University and a native of Manipur.

We were able to identify numerous issues through our talks with Manipuri students. It also gives rise to many questions in our mind regarding the whole situation. We tackled these curiosities during our conversation.

To begin, know that the entire northeast India is not a demographically and ethnically homogenous region, it has its own fair share of differences and diversity.

Just like north India has Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, is it possible to club them to one? The answer is no. In the same way north east cannot be clubbed together as one. The culture, the food, the language and art of every state differs greatly in the north eastern region too. People since years have been making the mistake of generalizing all the states making assumptions on how we look

– A post graduate Manipuri student from DU.

It was also revealed that ethnic discrimination, scams and derogatory name-calling are also rampant in Delhi.

Rickshwalas used to quote a higher price than the common pricing when I was new to the city. They think I’m a foreigner who doesn’t speak the language because of my appearance, so they can simply cheat me. I learned to ignore it over time, but such treatment makes us feel different in our own nation.

– A fresher from the state of Manipur.

 People are always surprised with my fluency in Hindi, and because I don’t have typical features that usually north-east Indians have, people again find it hard to believe that I come from North-east region.

– A student from Assam.

Hearing such incidents reveals how deeply rooted this mistreatment is in our ideas and behaviour. Furthermore, these students suggested to their friends that removing assumptions and bias and just asking questions about their state and culture is an excellent way to help people feel at ease rather than striking up dialogues that are full of assumptions.

Secondly, it is crucial to understand and know how the various communities interacted in the state of Manipur. What, for example, triggered this abrupt violence and the divide between two populations that had previously coexisted peacefully? Or is this simply the culmination of the separation and discrimination that existed between the two tribes?

We got conflicting answers for this – It can be observed that some people reminisce about the peace and harmony they shared in their daily lives while others locate us to the issues simmering on the back burner.

We mingle together but there was always some kind of divide that I felt while growing up, this was specially in the case of language for me.

– A first year Manipuri student from DU.

The source emphasized in this conversation how language was a big issue because kids in Manipur had to learn many languages including their mother tongue, Hindi, English, and in certain cases Manipuri if that was not spoken by their tribe. The students describe it as a “pressure that they had to deal with their entire primary school life.”

We were always proud of the unity shared between the two communities, in school we would dress up in our traditional attires and celebrate each other’s festivals, It was something we cherished. After the violence started, it created gaps in our personal bonds as well. My friend from the other community, we don’t even talk these days. It is definitely different now. I don’t know if it will ever be like old days.

– A research student from DU.

This discourse, on the other hand, provides a viewpoint of ‘unity in variety,’ in which some people cherished their shared culture and customs by not letting their differences infiltrate. However, the fallout of the ethnic confrontations has disrupted the formerly shared unity. At this point, one could ask if life will ever return to normal in either of these communities, or if the conflict will leave its terrible imprint.

When it comes to the clash, ever since the ethnic riots began, there have been new concerns among both populations and the students we questioned discussed how the word used to describe them is not only offensive but rather an “attack on their identity,” as one source put it.

For instance, Kuki students expressed their displeasure with the harsh labels being used to describe them – including ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘armed terrorists’.

My grandfather and father served in the Indian army; they are very much Indian and love their country, but they are now being targeted as foreigners and asked to leave the state.

 – a former student of DU.

Such anecdotes make one wonder if terms like ‘Illegal immigrants’, ‘terrorists’ and ‘outsiders’ should be used loosely in extremely sensitive situations like this one or if questions of citizenship supersede considerations of humanity and respect towards communities?

Not only students, but intellectuals all around the country, have been arguing against the injustice of using such labels against a group. There has been recent news of illegal migration into the states of Manipur and Assam from neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar, but students believe that this issue should be handled cautiously rather than aggressively. Meanwhile, the government can create preparations to protect its national interests and borders, but we must all be mindful of the language we use to communicate with one another.

While people are being target solely on the basis of their identity, crimes against Women and children are also rising, and thousands are being driven from their homes. There is no bitterness between Kuki and Meitei students in any of our talks with them. Everyone wants solutions to their problems and for this mayhem to end. Nevertheless, what we noticed was that they cared most for the lives of innocent people.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to the place where so many were murdered. I don’t know if I’ll be able to forgive.

– A student from Manipur

The education of the children is at risk and even those who are unaffected and safe are under emotional stress as a result of what they see on the news every day. I have no harsh thoughts towards my friends from the other community, but I’m concerned about what will happen if the situation does not change.

– A student from the north-eastern community.

This section of our discussions gets us to a place where we all reflect on how the differences have taken a nasty turn, and there is now a larger concern about implications of these fights. The once insignificant division has now penetrated people’s lives, hurting not just their livelihoods including safety and education, but also their mental health. Trauma and fear are significant obstacles that many people are still unable to overcome.

Previously, seeing someone from my state gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort, but now I’m not sure if the stranger I’m gazing at is from my community or not. I’m worried about my safety. Now, there’s a sense of fear.

– a fresher from DU.

While Manipur continues to seek hope and peace, Manipuri students are dissatisfied with how the mainstream media has failed to report the situation fairly and how many people have remained silent on the subject. They are concerned that the false narratives disseminated by the media channels will worsen the situation. Not only this, but also sharing information which is not based on facts is harmful to both the communities. Anyone on the internet searching and reading on this subject has to use the sources very wisely. ‘Misinformation is our biggest enemy in such times’, as stated by one of the students.

We have been organizing peace talks and discussions in the campus regarding the issue and I also frequently post on social media which I feel is very important to do in order to educate people who don’t know what is going on in Manipur. For all outsiders – We don’t want you to be ignorant about the issue. What we need the most right now is to support us and listen to us. Simply reaching out to and making an effort to understand the situation will help us a lot.

– a post-graduate Manipuri student from DU.

Land, demography, the fight for ST status, development inequity, and the complexity of who is truly on the receiving end are all issues that have multiple answers. There’s a Kuki and a Meitei version!

We don’t know what will happen next, but there’s a lot more at stake than just land: personal relationships, lives, scenic beauty, resources, the economy, and, most importantly, humanity.  Regardless of differences, what everyone shares is a sense of hope and the need for peace. History has shown that in times of crisis, kindness has always helped people endure the storm. Whether it’s the Covid-19 pandemic, or one of the world’s great conflicts, a natural disaster – there are always episodes of kindness and humanity that have made a difference. This is similar to the efforts of students who exemplify the optimism that Manipur requires right now!

This was Manipur’s chapter through the eyes of students, as they simply wish to raise more awareness and have hopes to end this chaos and heal from this harsh experience.

Video Suggestions – Survival story of Agnes Neikhohat, one of the instances of Crime against Women.

Read Also – Protest in Delhi School of Economics against the attack on tribal students in the campus.

List of additional sources on the issue :

Image credits : Economic Times

Priya Agrawal

This piece provides a detailed analysis of the current COVID-19 pandemic on the dynamic global economy. 

A hub of all humans across the world performing various operations forms a global economy. Trade all overseas ignoring boundaries has given rise to world trade and commercial connections which collectively builds the world economy or global economy. A widely used saying of the past, a famous phrase, “When America sneezes the whole world catches a cold” it signifies the dominant role of America in global economics since the beginning of the twentieth century. On the other hand, China being a large country with the highest population is the manufacturing house for rest of the world, therefore, the same phrase, (“When China sneezes the whole world catches a cold”) is popularly used to reflect China’s power and authority in global matters. And hence both countries being developed has a prominent role to play in the global race to maintain and flourish the system of global economics. Any fluctuations to their stock market indices and import-export structures send a chill wind across many economies and have a significant impact on global economic activity. In 2018, the United States gauged for 15.2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) after adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP). Also considering another tycoon of global economics, China is the world’s second-largest economy and produces 18.69 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity for 2018. China’s exports tremendously grew by 16 per cent per year from 1979 to 2009 which was a good sign of growth for the country and the world.

The global economy is already in its state of synchronised slowdown which particularly means the growth rate is falling to its lowest i.e. 3 per cent in 2019 and downgrading growth as stated by the International Monetary fund. The sparge effects of global crisis 2008 can still be traced out and since then the global economy is at its slowest pace. Around the globe almost 90 per cent of countries to experience the slowest growth in this decade thus this reflects a complex situation for all the nations. Since it is being observed over the past decade that global trade growth is in a halt situation. This horrified fall was rooted in various inter-related macroeconomic factors chiefly inflation, rising interest rates, trade relations, geo-political issues and availability of natural resources. Peeping back to China, a tremendous fall in birth rates, ageing population at hotfoot, screwing Federal Reserve, put brakes on China’s economy. To this, there is an addition of fuel to fire in china, and affecting the world and economy as a  whole. As we already know that a health epidemic is one of the most dangerous threats that a nation could ever face. And this time China is burning with a menacing virus and this is the real threat of COVID-19 epidemic that has originated itself in China. The dark mystery behind its cure is hasn’t solved yet. When we heard a term called viruses we became preventive and protective automatically and even when we have proper medication for the same. But the fear of viruses takes all our research and trusts. Now this time  China is bearing the pain. COVID-19 is the inclusion of one more fatal virus to the family of health toll. Viruses being untreatable are deathly, so it is of great concern if a person is suffering from the common cold because it is not also 100 per cent curable.

How people react to normal viruses causing the common cold, Influenza ?  We all generally describe them as disease-causing pathogenic particles of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or RNA (Ribonucleic acid). We are not afraid of other diseases because they have medicinal cures and gives us psychological and biological support. Recently a dangerous outbreak of COVID-19 in China has added to the books of medical sciences and research to diagnose and set another side to human life. At this hour the world has to deal with something non-curable.


COVID-19 being a large family of viruses causing common cold to more severe diseases as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The dark mystery behind its cure is still covered by curtains of the nonidentifiable source. Scientists are rushing to crack but too much devastation has already raised the toll of human life. Till now ant-eating Pangolins are considered to be the prime suspect according to the basis of genetic analyses. Being originated in the Wuhan city of china it can only be traced there. Being zoonotic they are transmitted between animals and people easily. The only way is to take preventive steps. Common signs involve respiratory symptoms, fever load, cold, breathing problems. Influenza an already curable disease which is generally known to us but still we are not afraid of it and also it is not affecting the global economy so drastically unlike coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of people die of the flu every year, a rate lower than coronavirus. Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died as on March 3′ 2020. On the other hand, in comparison to seasonal flu which generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected as stated by WHO (World Health Organisation). A mortality rate in China as of Feb 4 is 2.1% nationwide, and 5.8% in Wuhan as reported by NPA, China.  But still their lies some important distinctions between coronavirus and influenza because of which economy is suffering so hard. Because there is no vaccine for COVID-19 and it could take many months or years to get one to market. The only thing is that Influenza has likely been around for more than 2,000 years with us thus not drastically affecting economy and humanity contrary Coronavirus a 3 months old virus, yet there is no vaccine. Typically people develop more natural defences to fight against an already existing virus for more than a thousand years. Therefore not that destructive now but seasonal flu also caused variations to economy long way time back.

China death toll is although rising day by day. It has taken a different picture in china and harming their most important resource that is humans. This virus outbreak is not only affecting people but also has a ruinous impact on the whole world since everything is connected to China. Economies are interlinked and thus deeply impacting other nations in terms of the death toll and industrial businesses as well. Though America is taking mist of the hardships in research and finding the cure for this destructive virus. Nations across the world have bound into action to contain the impact of this epidemic. China is the epicentre is barricading its major cities and public places. This vicious circle of the instant spread of the virus is ruing other nations as well and it has already taken a toll of 100,300 infected people. Mainland China has seen more than 3000 deaths. The novel coronavirus is spreading faster, various warnings are given by The World Health Organisation to countries like Iran and Italy. India has also reported with 31 COVID-19 positive cases in this period. Italy is shutting down schools and taking proper preventive measures. America is boarding hard and hasten research efforts to find a cure.  Various measures have been announced by different nations to address this issue.  Despite everything related to this virus will enter our shore on a large scale or not but it is impacting global as well as national economies. As stated by international bodies, World Bank and organization for economic cooperation and development has already marked a sharp slowdown in global economic growth. China’s economy can even contract, which, if happens would be the first time since the revolution of the 1970s. This will surely impact India’s economic situation too. The global supply chain has also been disturbed due to export and import sprung from china affecting millions of small and medium businesses in developing countries. COVID-19 crisis can further slowdown world growth also drastically affects India’s GDP growth by half to one per cent, other things being constant.  This health shock will make the world situation worse. China being the main house of imports and exports crashes the world trade. Financial markets were in improvement condition before novel coronavirus spread to the world but now financial markets and economic forecasters are stating warnings for risks in the US and across the world. China’s economic growth is expected to slow to 4.5 per cent in the first quarter of the 2020 year as reported by the world economic forum. Global oil demand has also hit hard by novel coronavirus says international energy agency. Also, the Islamic countries such as Iran, Israel which has closed its land borders with Egypt and Syria, Kuwait have banned their flights and ordered the airline industry to eliminate every flight for a certain period.  Not surprisingly, Air India is to shut down its flights. And all this has accounted to a total loss of $113 billion of revenue. Massive factory shutdown, offices and workplaces closure has a slowing flow of products from and to China. This is largely affecting companies across the world including Apple and Nissan. As the world struggles with the novel coronavirus, impact on the economy is increasing its peak as the virus presents the biggest danger to the global economy since after a financial crisis. As mentioned earlier there are now more than 95000 confirmed cases globally. In China millions of people are locked down in dozens of cities, disruptive supply chains and travel restrictions have to lead to a great slowdown.

After so much of technologies china is not able to find a cure for this virus, it was transferred from animals to humans. There are a lot of antibiotics injected to animals to slaughter them all this has given rise to novel coronavirus. Not being able to crack the antidote the world is suffering financially, economically and most important rising deaths. There are many countries and companies dependent on the health of china’s economy and thus they are also suffering the same pain. China is the world’s largest oil importer observed a descending global oil demand in a decade. It is expected to fall by 435,000 barrels a year to year in the first quarter of 2020 said by IEA. Second affected industry due to the novel coronavirus is the air travel industry. To restrict the spread of the virus among nations cross nationals flights are cancelled since it is respirational infection. As reported by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) the outbreak could cost airlines $113 billion in lost revenue (predicted figure). Due to this outbreak, lots of airlines got trapped in a very bad situation and taken a toll on their revenue, since earlier also some were only earning marginal profits and due to this health hazard that is also being ruined. The third and the most affected portion of the world economy is disruptive commerce due to divisive virus which had landed world trade to an upsetting situation. The pharmaceutical industry is also bracing for disruption to global production. Largely America is the main place of suffering as pharmaceutical industries got major losses due to this harmful outbreak and have resulted in a  dampening effect over the graph of profits and revenues. Being Americans increasingly dependent on drugs catches a high amount of imports from China. Most drugs are either sourced directly from China or are made from intermediate chemical progenitors, manufactured in China. 80 per cent of medicated drugs of the U.S. are sourced overseas particularly china. And in the past few years, the pharmaceutical industry has immensely geared up on a large scale concluding China as the biggest producer of API’s (Active pharmaceutical ingredients). Not the only U.S many other countries are also dependent on China, including India. India is the largest producer of generic drugs also relies on China for 80 per cent of its API’s supply that is to be used further in drug production. Almost all antibiotics are imported from China to the US even surgical gowns, gloves, masks and products used to stop the spread of coronavirus are also manufactured in China. Since there is massive destruction of the manufacturing sector in China has set back its supply of drugs which is substantially effecting the pharmaceutical industry globally. As reported by FDA (Food Drug Administration) there will be a shortage of API’s globally which is required in the production of various other drugs and can cause higher prices for the medicines people(particularly in the US) need to treat their illnesses due to dismantled manufacturing in China. Indian pharmaceutical sector is drastically impacted and according to the data stated by Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council, the trading cost of paracetamol has increased from Rs 250-300 kg to 400-450 kg. Along with this, another shock which is nondigested by the industries is a shot up of 40-50 per cent increase in prices of vitamins and penicillin. Pharmaceutical industries will face this prospect of disruptions due to the extended shutdown of factories in china. Major drugmakers including Dr Reddy’s, Lupin, Glenmark, Mylan, Zydus healthcare are mostly affected even the stock market Sensex is affected.

In China, this virus will remain for a longer time particularly until an antidote is discovered. All this is due to seasonal changes there which support a rigorous spread of coronavirus being respirational. China is presently experiencing a raining season which has worsened the existing situation more badly. The worst slap to the economy is when there is a shallow single-day fall for Sensex globally. This landed economists back to great concern over the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Sensex lost gigantic 1,941.67 points or 5.17% to close at 35,634.95 ending a day with huge losses. Global stock markets dived deeply as a blow of investors were recorded who were pressured due to the recent spread of coronavirus.    

Besides the impact on commerce, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) forecasts that Japan could lose $1.29 billion of tourism revenue as there is a huge fall in Chinese travellers, while Thailand could lose $1.15 billion. There is a serious downtrodden effect in oil sector globally, and sinking oil prices have been traced and had a reverse in all the improvements and positive momentum in oil prices over a small period. Continued losses would be suffered by oil industries in two ways firstly due to travel restrictions which ended up in limiting the use of jet fuel and supply chains slowdown. Secondly, passive industrial activities due to fewer workers and stock market reaction to the effect of the coronavirus on the global economy build a forecast of global oil demand over a long period. Since the sentiment of health has affected the global economy in a negative sphere. So estimations about the global oil demand curve can be graphed as oil prices slump. Also, Russia denied OPEC’s proposal for a production cut and subsequent oil price war which has already pushed Brent blend crude down to more than 9 per cent.

Due to the mammoth shutdown of factories in China has caused a steep fall in car sales by 92 per cent within 15 days of an outbreak, as stated by the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA). Various other large companies have suffered a lot because a major amount of automobile parts are produced in China only and its reduced production has badly toll on automobile sector globally. China is the world’s biggest car market, and Wuhan being the epicentre for the same is also known as “motor city” for the world as it serves as a house to auto plants including General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot Group and Renault. Wuhan solely deems for about 50% of the total production of auto-parts and main factories, assembling for Honda alone. This landed the sector to a very dreadful state. Tesla a Hubei brand which has a new factory set up in Shanghai was also forced to shut down, and Volkswagen too postponed production at all of its Chinese plants. Reducing the overall supply and disturbing the global market for automobiles as the impacts on the auto industry are being felt beyond China’s borders. It badly touched India’s shore. Hyundai, Honda, and various other companies in India are dependent on China for minor to major auto-parts and imports them on a large scale, this shutdown will collapse the market and ruin the increasing path of growth. Also, Hyundai and Kia recently ceased their several assembly lines in Korea and a suspension of auto production by Nissan in Japan. To prevent the spread of the virus which has sharply ruined the automobiles all over the world these decisions were to amended. And due to low production and almost zero supply resulted in the shutdown of operations in other nations as well.

However, the economists were optimistic China’s economy would recover quickly if the virus could be contained.

Feature Image Credits: Akshat Arora for DU Beat.

Rushali Yadav

[email protected]

Who is to be blamed?
The year’s old fame of Delhi University has now turned into sham when thousands of its professors are on roads protesting about the incompetence of university administration. The professors, who have worked relentlessly for years and who have taught the sharpest brains of the country, teach with insecure minds. Approximately 4500 teachers in Delhi University are serving on an ad-hoc basis. This means that they are appointed for a fixed period of 4 months and are reappointed as per the whims and fancies of the college administration.
One of the major reasons for this uproar has been the 28 August circular, which has created a history in itself. Never before had the administration been so cruel to its teachers. The Delhi University assistant registrar in the circular addressed to Principals, Directors, Colleges, and Institutions informed:
“The colleges are…advised to fill up the permanent vacancies at the earliest and till permanent appointments are made, colleges may appoint guest faculty, if required, against new vacancies arising first time in academic session 2019-2020”
This means that the rejoining of the existing 4500 ad-hoc teachers is at stake since the circular clearly states the appointment of guest faculty instead of ad-hoc faculty. The entire teaching fraternity was taken aback. They were earlier hoping for permanent appointments instead of ad-hoc and now they even fear to lose their ad-hoc jobs. Some ad-hoc teachers have been teaching for more than ten years now and have a dependent family. One line of the circular was enough to make them experience sleepless nights.
Here it is important to understand the difference between ad-hoc and guest faculty. The ad-hoc teachers extract a salary as is fixed by the University Grants Commission and are given voting rights equivalent to permanent faculty. Apart from this, they are also involved in all the academic and extracurricular activities of the college/institution. Whereas on the other hand the guest faculty are expected to come, deliver a lecture and go. They are paid a nominal amount per lecture delivered and have no voting rights.
The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) took the cause of teachers and left no stone unturned to stop the implementation of such draconian circular that deprived teachers of their fundamental right to life and livelihood. Since August, they have been demanding the withdrawal of this circular, but the Vice-Chancellor turned deaf ears. The teachers when went unheard decided to boycott all the Delhi University examination invigilation and evaluation duties and resolved to protest at the VC Regal Lodge. This created a deadlock in the university and without faculty, the colleges are having a tough time in conducting the university final examinations. Who is to be blamed for such ruckus? Did the Vice-Chancellor overlook or is it the administrative inertia? Or is it the politically vested interest of few that have brought the entire education system to a halt? Why is it that whenever the ad-hoc teachers demand permanency, they are instead made insecure about their ad-hoc jobs?
Earlier also, when the voices of ad-hoc teachers strengthened for permanency, the teaching roster was changed from 200 point to 13 point. The reserved category posts as per the 13 point roster would reduce and thus the entire focus and efforts shifted towards getting the 200 point roster back in implementation. After winning this long fight with administration, now when the teachers demanded permanency, they were deprived of their existing jobs and they demanded the continuation of their existing ad-hoc jobs, forgetting about being permanent. Many questions arise. Whether the professors at the most prestigious university deserve such insecurity? Don’t they have a right to life and livelihood? What are the reasons behind the administration’s inaction and government’s delay in filling up the permanent posts? These unanswered questions are probably the reasons for the declining education system in India.

Mansi Babbar
Assistant Professor
University of Delhi

Feature Image Credits: Yudu Ushanandani

Every year around this time, Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) election approaches and so the campus also starts to get littered with posters and pamphlets. Posters can be seen on walls all over the campus and pamphlets scattered throughout the roads.


But it is a matter of fact that very few are aware of National Green Tribunal’s order directing the University to ensure that no paper is used for campaigning on campuses and also it is prohibited to use printed materials for purpose canvassing according to Code of Conduct of DUSU elections.


So realizing it’s responsibility, Panchtatva – The environment society of Hindu College under the guidance of its convener Dr. Anuradha Sharma, took out a Paper collection drive with 50 members of Panchtatva throughout the campus. The objective of such a drive was to collect the littered paper pamphlets and posters so that they could be sent for recycling later and also to promote clean environment around the campus inspired by the Prime Minister’s visionary Swacch Bharat Abhiyan.


Dr. Anuradha Sharma, the convener of Panchtatva society, Hindu college said that it is the responsibility of each student to realize their duty towards the university and ensure to speak up and join hands together to prevent such wrongful practices in the University.

Let us set the premise of this article by a hypothetical yet very real situation.

You are enrolled in a university as a student of subject ‘A’. But you are also curious about other fields of study ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘Q’ etc. You study the concerned texts for those subjects – strictly academic and more general literature. But as you go through a few pages, generally, one these two phenomena happen –

  • You get confused and eventually lost in the technical jargon about that particular field.
  • You actually enjoy the piece. But there is also surging guilt at the back of your mind because you realise that your own subject requires a lot of study, and what you’re reading now has absolutely no direct relevance to your conventional career path.

In both of these cases, you end up closing the book, never to open it again. If this has ever happened to you, read on. If it hasn’t, well, try being a little more curious, and still read on, because the problem needs to be addressed.

There is severe compartmentalisation of education, and it affects us in apparent ways on a daily basis. Yet, it seems as though we have turned a blind eye to it. I’ll take the example of curriculum structure in theUniversity of Delhi (DU) and wider assessments can be made. In all arts, science and commerce honours courses in DU, we have little to no scope of studying any other subject practically. In simple English, if you are, like me, a student of Economics, then psychology, philosophy, political science etc. are strictly ‘other’ subjects for you. You don’t perceive their knowledge to be of any direct (and sometimes even indirect) consequence to your honours degree in Economics, and your fabulous career thereafter. Often, your judgement proves to be right. But that is not because your judgement is stupendous, but because the judgement of both academia and the industry is, on the whole, also flawed.

But why is it flawed? They are really different subjects, each having its own terminology and laws, carefully developed across centuries and critical to passing on the knowledge of that subject to the new generation. Moreover, today’s world is not a world of polymaths. With the advancement of human knowledge, each field of study has made unprecedented progress and to study one of them requires exclusive attention from the learner for many years. One can be startled by Aristotle, Da Vinci, Tagore etc., but must also appreciate the fact that they lived in times much different from today’s world, where education has become specialised.

I agree with the aforementioned reasoning. Wholeheartedly. After one point, any discipline requires a student’s exclusive attention. But I must ask – is not all knowledge related? Are not all disciplines inter-twined? More practically, will an engineer who has studied sociology, economics and political science not be a more aware citizen than someone with only four years of engineering training? Will an economist who has studied history carefully not have a better sense as to what should be done to avoid another financial crisis than someone who has not? Will a student of any subject who has not studied philosophy be ever able to appreciate that philosophy is the essence of all kinds of knowledge?

When two friends with different honours streams sit and talk about their majors, they are essentially speaking on two parallel levels that never intersect. One speaks and the other listens. And then the other speaks with almost zero connection to what the first one said. That is because both people use ‘specialised’ words, exclusive to their field of study, impenetrable by all other people. This jargon is what initially creates boundaries, or compartments, in education. When your friend from Psychology shares her dilemma with you; you, an Economics major, cannot give her any practical advice. Neither can explain even simple concepts of one’s subject to the other because we rarely give a thought to simplify our own learning. We are attracted by complexity. We use words in our answers we really don’t understand because we know that making things simpler won’t fetch us marks. In this complex world, we are made to understand, simplicity is mediocrity and mediocrity is a sin beyond forgiveness.

Students from different streams simply cannot understand each other. The inability to understand leads to ignorance, which is ever-lasting. The discussions during our lectures never involve examples from other disciplines, unless some rouge professor vaguely mentions a thing or two making a pass. We are given under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), an option of studying one or more Generic Electives (GE) across four semesters, but our choices are guided mostly by herd-mentality, and rarely out of our own curiosity.

The compartmentalization doesn’t stop there. Once we have erected walls around our majors, we create sub-boundaries within our subjects. We separate each subsequent topic from the previous, and try to understand each topic in part, rather than forming a logical sequence of all topics as a whole. Ultimately, we end up with fragments of knowledge about the subject we majored in – basically, almost as stupid as we started.

This is not a recent problem. This disease has manifested itself across generations and is today in its most vicious form – creating ignorant individuals who strongly believe they know a lot, and a society that never corrects them. It is no surprise that this translates into master’s as well as doctoral studies. Although the academic world is seeing a positive trend of very practical inter-disciplinary courses, the industry is yet to even acknowledge this problem. Although engineers are being made to study social sciences, and arts students are being made to study basic natural sciences compulsorily, the progress rate and scale is far from desired.

But why is this a problem that needs an immediate remedy? The answer requires some pondering, but is fairly simple. It comes down to the basic purpose of education. The desired end behind educating ourselves is not merely getting a job – it is only a means to sustain our daily lives. If we’re privileged enough to attain higher education, our ultimate purpose is to enhance the knowledge around us. At the moment, our way of living mirrors a highly hierarchical corporate institution. In that institution, there are so many divisions that a common worker has no clue as to what her purpose is in the company, yet it won’t be surprising if she’s a so and so manager/officer/expert. Compartmentalization creates these impenetrable differences, which lead to divided action. If the purpose of higher learning is really (as we are told in our temples of learning) to create a better world for tomorrow, we must begin to appreciate that there are other kinds of knowledge different from our own, and we shall need them in our lives.

Now, this is all very good for making a fiery public speech and garnering applause, but we need to find practical solutions to this. We need to start small. We have the platforms already. We need to start utilising them and then create new platforms for inter-disciplinary integration. In generic elective classes under CBCS, we have students from multiple disciplines. Teachers and students must, during the classes, initiate debates and discussions which force us to link our major to the other majors, and develop a holistic perspective to the knowledge we are taking.

The projects, assignments, reports etc. of a GE must involve a group of students from different disciplines. Or, they must be more broad-ended and challenging. Say, a Political Science generic elective assignment on early Western Political Thought must be open enough for a Sociology student to critically analyse social relations of the time; for an Economics student to write his opinion stemming from the trade relations and patterns of the time, all from the same text.

Then, for one instance, we can have Economics and Psychology students working together on a joint statistical assignment that carries marks. These practical solutions will inculcate a much-needed cross-disciplinary culture that will open tremendous new possibilities for higher learning in India.

We have created a dangerous world for ourselves with our approach to education. A world of false prestige and real disappointment. Those privileged enough to attain a quality higher education have prestige oozing out of their bodies. Yet the world is more unequal today than ever. The action must come right now!


Feature Image Credits: Blogspot


Alyasa Abbas

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(Alyasa is a third-year B.A. Economics (Honours) student from Zakir Husain Delhi College.)

Any Economics student at Delhi University who has done a modicum of reading about history of economic thought shall be able to see that Economics as an academic discipline is dominated by Neoclassical Economics, with some Keynesian Economics here and there. And this is true for Universities all over the world.


From the very first class, we are fed “Ten Principles of Economics” from Gregory Mankiw’s book like they are supreme laws of nature, followed by rigorous mathematical analysis of demand and supply, of markets, of consumption and production, et-cetera. The schools of macroeconomic thought enter the picture in the fourth semester where they are given, generally, as much attention as agriculture gets from mainstream media. One reason is also their low share in the marking scheme of semester examinations.
I believe, the most appropriate way to learn a social science subject is to approach it historically. Because each distinct theory has to be seen in its historical context to be understood completely. For natural sciences, the laws are pretty much timeless. But Economics, despite of such rigorous mathematics used in its study, is a social science; and we need to study each theorist (economist) in the light of times he/she lived in.
For this, the ‘Economic Schools of Thought’ should be the very first chapter in Economics syllabus at DU. This shall guide students to see that each economist was a product of its time, that Economics developed in many ways from many different ideas about human nature and social constructs. For example, a deeper reading of neoclassical economics shows that it stems out from the philosophy of ‘Humanism’ and Keynesian Economics has an element of ‘Structuralism’. If nothing else, this might introduce students to the plurality of Economics right at the beginning, so that we at least know that there is more to economics than unrealistic assumptions in the name of ceteris paribus.
When we are fed equations and assumptions about consumer behavior, demand, and supply, investment, growth etc. like they are foolproof equations of natural sciences, the introduction of schools of thought in the fourth semester doesn’t do much to expand our horizon of understanding. It’s almost as if things would be same without such an inclusion.
Post financial crisis, there have been numerous critiques of neoclassical economics, of the financial system, the banking system, of capitalism itself. But despite everything, there have been no major reforms in the syllabus of Economics at universities in India. If we look at the syllabus of Economics Honours before CBCS in Delhi University, we shall see that the foundation subjects of theory are still exactly the same. We are still fed the same ‘laws’ and ‘principles’ of neoclassical economics until we are programmed to accept them as absolute truths rather than just one interpretation of reality amongst many others.
At this point, it must be made clear that neo-classical economics is not an altogether wrong branch of economics. The ‘free market – rational individual – independent agents’ formulations of economic theories do give many useful insights about the economic phenomena around the world. And these models are extremely feasible to base research on. The problem arises when we never learn to question those theories any further than some of the questions raised by John Maynard Keynes. The problem arises when our tendency of ‘not questioning’ translates into single-mindedness about the supremacy of one theory. When global events have repeatedly proved many neo-classical models and theories to be faulty and at times, even misguided, why do we still study the same syllabus without even looking at it critically?
We study textbooks written primarily by American authors – or authors who are not American but reside in America. In the process of learning to solve problems that concern advance capitalist economies, we become arrogant ‘specialists’ who are very prone to giving first world solutions to third world problems.
While I am a second-year student and there are two semesters on Development Economics and Indian Economy in the third year, I doubt, with my neo-classical training in theory, how much I would really be able to grasp the problems by their roots concerning India. Or will I just see the problems as much as they are written in my readings, as most of us do?
I am certain that there are others like me who feel that there is a huge problem with Economics as an academic discipline here in India and across the world. We study such a plural subject by almost reducing it to singularity. The notion of an inherently stable economy is fit into our minds like a testament. But during class, while learning the models like the Walrasian Equilibrium, the Efficient Market Hypothesis, our mind is constantly confused from the fictionality of the premises of those models.
It is completely true that the arrival of Economics as a mainstream distinct academic discipline began with the Classical Economists’ works, like those of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Jevons, Walras, Vilfred Pareto etc. It is absolutely necessary to study these giant intellectuals and their theories to learn economics. But we must also notice that neo-classical economics did not really build beyond providing a mathematical proof of earlier theorems under certain assumptions, while the world, clearly, has changed a lot. And when the models developed by top neo-classical experts around the world (including Nobel Laureates) have failed (sometimes very miserably) time and again in predicting as well as averting financial crashes, we must now collectively call for reform.
I strongly advocate the inclusion of Neo-Classical Economics in undergrad syllabus, because we can’t do anything without it. But I am sternly against the dominance of one branch in academia, politics and the financial sector. We must be introduced to Marx, to the Austrians, to the causes of various financial crashes and where the neo-classicals went wrong. We must be taught the problem of ‘Unequal Exchange’ as proposed by Samir Amin as importantly as we are taught the PPP theory. Because the way we are going right now, according to me, we shall become arrogant self-proclaimed specialists who think they know more than the laymen and understand the world, but lack the basic element of ‘intellectual plurality’.
We must also be taught, as an additional Skill Enhancement Course, about the day to day working of Banks and Financial Institutions in India, about things as basic as how to buy insurance policy or how to manage our bank accounts. Things very basic, but extremely relevant to the real world. I have noticed that I know complex things like how Banks galvanize the credit-creation process, but not so much the simpler things which really matter in day to day survival.
The purpose of my education in Economics, for me, is to be part of a global intellectual workforce, who pioneer in bridging the gap between complex economic phenomena and the common people. The world is a complex place, extremely difficult to understand. As economics students, our goal must be to make it simpler for everyone. We must learn to rigorously criticize our own discipline, because at this crucial juncture in history, Economics needs it.

Alyasa Abbas

Alyasa Abbas is a second-year student of Economics Hons. at Zakir Husain Delhi College.