Shreya Bhardwaj


Some archaic manuscripts dating back to the thirteenth century have acquainted us with the name of Razziya al-din, popularly known throughout the history as Razia Sultan, the only female ruler of both the Sultanate and the Mughal period. In defiance of the customary norms, Razia spurned the usage of the title “Sultana”, meaning the wife or mistress of the Sultan, and instead, and quite magnificently if one tries to imagine, answered only to the title of “Sultan”. Nearly eight centuries later, another Razia Sultan has answered to a custom in defiance.

Born in the Nanglakhumba Village of Meerut District, Uttar Pradesh, a coy and dainty Razia Sultan has received the first United Nations Malala Award for educating child labourers. She will also be commended as the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education’s Youth Courage Award for Education. The silent revolutionary odyssey began when Razia was rescued by a non-governmental organization from the job of stitching footballs in decrepit tenements in her village, a job she had been doing since the age of four like many other girls. Subsequently, in a heralding development, Razia attended school and became the chieftain to the cause of other child labourers, having rescued 48 children till now. Eventually, Razia expanded her frontiers and voiced the need for child education outside her district and even other countries like Nepal, prudently backed by the non-governmental organization all the way.

While on one hand there is a world where people know the counterproductive trivia about Jabulani football except the cryptic information as to how or where it is made, on the other hand there’s a world where people do not know anything but ‘that’ cryptic information. For instance, Razia Sultan’s father not at all wary of the importance of the honour conferred on his daughter by the United Nations, was quoted as saying, “We didn’t even know that this award is of great importance. Now, we are feeling very proud of her. I cannot express my happiness in words.”

Elated as Razia is, she is not keen to be swept by the mesmerising adulation and considers the honour as a step closer towards her real goal to spread child education because for all she knows, stitching footballs was never her calling in life. And for all we know, though we have no means to affirm it, Razziya al-din would have taken pride in the magnitude of justice done to her name.

(Also see: Malala Yousafzai: The Voice of Change)

So, then. You want a story and I will tell you one.

Anyone who has reconciled themselves to the fact that Khalid Hosseini has already  exhausted the stock of their emotions, especially sheer despondence, ought to seek his latest offering to experience the intensity all over again.

Pari and her elder brother, Abdullah share a bond that can only decay in death because for Pari, her “Abollah” is no less than a parent and for Abdullah, Pari is just like the fairy her name translates into. Their young minds do not even waste time to contemplate their lives without one another. However, a ruinous journey of the two siblings with their father to Kabul culminates in the event that changes their lives once and for all.

‘And The Mountains Echoed’, the third book by the best-selling author Khalid Hosseini, is a peregrination across time and places with the reader finding oneself in circa 1952 and Kabul at one point, and circa 2010 and Tinos at another. With the decent shovel of a pen, the author has dug across boundaries and unravelled more haunting elements that remain invisible and, yet, are present around each one of us.

The story is a multi-generational family saga narrated from the perspective of several people which might force the readers to reluctantly lose a particular streak, though in the end the details merge to give us a clear image. Whether the book will be perceived at par with the previous ones is not known as of now because an inevitable comparison with its predecessors tells us that the book could use a more dense and prolific conclusion, a point that the previous books do not lack.

But above the grim reality that the author has introduced us with, he has told us a story because we wanted him to tell one.

But just the one…..

3.5-ratingRating: 3.5/5

Will the B. Tech Degree offered by Delhi University be the same as the one offered by the regular engineering colleges? The Four-Year Undergraduate Programme has observed an academic metamorphosis of six courses, namely psychological sciences, electronics, instrumentation, computer science, food technology and polymer science from their early B.A or B.Sc form to B.Tech. The officials from Delhi University have claimed that the B.Tech degree would make one eligible for M.Tech courses in institutions such as IITs and NITs. The new B.Tech courses have attracted many students, the reason for which might hinge on the aforementioned claim. However, IIT officials deem it appropriate to doubt the veracity of the statement since the University has not communicated with them about this aspect. The officials are of the view that a thorough inspection of the four-year curricula and the merit of students is in order before they give their final word. While on one hand, there are optimistic affirmations that the engineering institutes might, after all, grant Delhi University graduates admission in M. Tech courses immediately after their graduation, on the other hand, the composition of B.Tech courses of Delhi University has come under scrutiny. Ordinarily, a B. Tech course in other institutions consists of 6-7 theory papers in the subject along with 4-5 practical/technical papers each in the first two semesters. Whereas under FYUP, each semester in the first year comprises of two papers, 4 foundation courses and one course on Gandhian Philosophy: Integrated Mind, Body and Heart. Another noteworthy impediment is the fact that a fresh staff, with technical background, required for the new technical courses has not been introduced. Yet another factor that adds to the inconclusiveness of the new pattern is its technical base that has been said to be drawn without any approval from All India Council for Technical Education. While most teachers refused to clarify this ambiguity, a teacher, closely associated with the formulation of the FYUP structure, responded, “I don’t think DU has got any approval from the AICTE.  We mentioned this to our Head of the Department, but received no reply.” Similar belief has been reaffirmed by other publications, while the University has not thrown much light on the matter. What further needs to be noted is that admissions to the newly introduced Delhi University B.Tech courses require no entrance examination contrary to the system followed in other engineering colleges. The admission on the basis of cut-off hence acts as an attraction to students who didn’t make it in the competitive entrance and at the same time the quality of students who will pursue the course is put to question. The eligibility criteria in regular engineering colleges comes with the requirement of a science background in class 12. With the DU course however, even a humanities student can pursue a B.Tech degree. Students have also been apprehensive about the kind of placements that the course would offer without the AICTE approval and the lack of reputation as B.Tech training grounds in the market. Nonetheless, the University has made efforts to display the liaison of its new courses with those of engineering. For instance, the newly introduced electronics course has been “termed” as a close compatriot of the one taught at Delhi Technical University. Suryansh Chaudhary, a recent class 12 pass-out says, “Well it is cheap, a government institute and in Delhi! And unfortunately, other things don’t really matter.” The affordability factor is certainly one to think about. While other government engineering colleges might also offer a subsidised fee, the limited number of seats in these institutions certainly happens to be a problem. With the increase in demand for the B.Tech tag, the more the merrier seems to be the apt phrase here. Many students believe that they would prefer pursuing B.Tech at a regular engineering college because the curriculum is more ‘engineering-like’, is AICTE approved and promises better job prospects. There is no significant difference between the previous B.Sc. Computer Science and the new B.Tech Computer Science syllabus at Delhi University. Except the ‘B.Tech tag’, not many elements seem to have been changed. With a degree that is not AICTE approved and will be taught (similar to a B.Sc course) by the same staff that previously taught B.Sc and B.A. courses, whether it will actually make you an engineer is something to think about. As of now, we have can only study the progress of this much popularised Four-Year Undergraduate Programme to see whether it stands the test of time. Editor adds: The story is aimed at the new B.Tech courses at DU and not the B.Tech in Innovation programme started by Cluster Innovation Centre in 2011. We understand that the technical and practical approach in CIC’s methodology is unquestionable and well recognised. (Also see: Courses to Look out for: B.Tech under CIC)]]>