Upon the directions of the Honourable Delhi High Court, DU’s SOL has formed a subject-wise committee to review the study material distributed to students.
Since the beginning of this year’s odd-semester, the University of Delhi (DU) affiliated School of Open Learning (SOL) has faced many issues pertaining to admissions, curriculum and academics related fronts.
In the most recent turn of events, the administration of the School has appointed a subject-wise committee to review the study material distributed to students as a part of their curricula. This move comes into the picture after the college administration had been addressed with complaints by the students that the material provided to them by the School, for their classes, was of poor quality and not reliable in terms of its content.
Hence, upon the directions of the Honourable High Court of Delhi, a committee has been appointed by the institution to look into the matter. The court’s judgment had called for a review of the material. Earlier the court had also put a stay on the December exam to be held for over one lakh students currently enrolled at SOL. This year, the University converted SOL from the annual mode to the semester system and the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). The administration has even formed a committee to address the grievances of the students enrolled under the CBCS. The committee will suggest remedies that need to be implemented.
Students alleged that the study material was full of errors and most of it had been prepared by simply bifurcating the material that had been prescribed in the previous system of annual mode. The Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, which had led these protests against the study material has also affirmed the presence of errors in the same.
Saurabh, a first year student of B.Com. at SOL says, “It is great that the SOL is finally taking steps to bring our studies back on track…things are still uncertain though.”
The first-semester syllabi of four subjects have been accepted by the panel of the University of Delhi (DU).
The University of Delhi has approved the syllabus of English, History, Political Science, and Sociology for first-semester. The syllabi of other subjects have been sent back for revision, and for a final overlook, to their respective Departments, who have been provided with the time of a month to do the same..
The long-drawn-out controversy over University of Delhi’s syllabus of certain subjects has come to a step closer to its conclusion with this action. However, many academic and ethical debates over this dispute are still taking place.
This controversy began with right-wing organisations objecting to the inclusion of certain course materials, like the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the 2002 Gujarat riots, and the depiction of Hindu deities in Queer literature in the English syllabus.The situation soon escalated with the ABVP protesting against the course material of certain subjects, which according to them were anti-national and non-Indian in aesthetics. Dr. Rasal Singh of the Academic Council said, “The syllabi have to be cleansed and Indianised, it should be free from Colonial and Communist clutches.”
Counter-protests for academic freedom by organizations like the Delhi University Teacher’s Association (DUTA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Association (AISA), Krantikari Yuva Sangathan (KYS), Pinjra Tod soon followed, leading to a University-wide altercation.
From the academic session 2019-2020, a separate list for non-CBSE subjects will be released to aid admissions for students in other boards.
On 2nd May 2019, the standing committee of the Academic Council of the University of Delhi (DU) passed the recommendation to include academic subjects from other non-CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) realms in a separate list of subjects.
This move was proposed after the committee scrutinised papers and subjects followed roughly in the twenty-eight State Boards, three National Boards, and three Sanskrit Boards for class 12 and then weighed those against their CBSE counterparts.
This proposal caters to academic subjects like anthropology, biochemistry, civics, logic, philosophy, among others. Rasal Singh, a member of the Academic Committee, on speaking to a national daily, commented how these subjects currently fall under the separate vocational subjects’ list despite having course structure and content along similar lines as the CBSE subjects.
Vocational subjects, currently include Food Production, Painting, Hindustani Music (Vocal), Beauty and Wellness, and several others. These subjects, if included in the best of four, would incur a disadvantage of 2% deduction during admissions before 2019.
Rasal Singh went on to explain that biochemistry, taught in the State board of Jammu and Kashmir, will be treated as an equivalent to biology or biotechnology. Similarly, a combination of Maths A from Andhra Pradesh and Maths B from Telangana State Boards will be considered as equivalents of CBSE mathematics. The statistics paper of Maharashtra State board will also be seen as a counterpart of CBSE mathematics.
Other changes proposed to the committee in the meeting include an increase in ward quota for teaching and non-teaching staff, one percent relaxation of cut-offs for students from government schools and rural backgrounds, and the conduction of entrance examinations for colleges, in Hindi and English. The varsity, according to sources, is also planning on adding 6000 seats this year and 9000 in 2020. These have just been proposed and need approval before being passed and applied during the admission season of 2019.
With the use of cellphones at an all-time high, there is an ongoing debate about if they should be allowed in colleges and classrooms, or not. Let’s delve into the matter and understand it better.
Technology has invaded almost every aspect of our lives. Our gadgets have become our new friends without whom life is just impossible to imagine. So much so, that we become totally inseparable with them. We are exceedingly becoming dependent on them to lead our lives. Students, especially, find themselves heavily reliant on their smartphones and even carry it to their colleges.
How right is that and should this act be allowed? This is the question that needs to be discussed.
People supporting the ban of smartphones in colleges term it as a distraction deviating students from their academics. Usage of cellphones in classrooms results in the wastage of time during important class hours. It also fuels their social media addiction since a productive academic atmosphere should be devoid of social networking apps. Another important aspect which Simran from Gargi College brought forward was how smartphones weaken the students’ ability to come to a solution themselves as everything is available just at the press of a button.
But, should we consider banning them from college premises keeping the above propositions in mind? There is another side of the coin that needs to be assessed too.
Smartphones are like handheld computers which can be used as a great tool of learning in innovative ways which are beyond the scope of traditional teaching. It becomes convenient for teachers too, in cases when they need to hand out digital academic materials to their students. Apart from being great learning tools, they also become absolutely essential for students for keeping in touch with their parents and ensuring their safety while they travel to and from college.
Thus, banning the usage altogether doesn’t appear like a wise decision but its shortcomings can’t be brushed under the table too.
There instead, needs to be a strict regulation on the use of smartphones on the campus. Social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook must be inaccessible on college WiFi and strict actions must be taken against the defaulter. Mobiles should be collected before the class and should be handed over only when there is an academic need.
Imagine not joining any society in college: would things be different? How would you make friends or create experiences? See college life from the eyes of someone who is not in any society!
The University of Delhi (DU) is prestigious for several things, including its societies and co-curricular activities. Societies are sought after, and the students look forward to joining these. Students in these societies are deeply passionate and spend hours every day practicing before and after college, going to competitions, missing classes. With so much time spent in one place, it is inevitable that you find friends and create experiences there.
But it is unfair to generalise these experiences; for many students, college is simply being able to have the gift of time and freedom. They can invest these wherever they want. They could miss a class or attend all, they could make friends slowly and organically from their own class or simply stick to their school friends, and they could make spontaneous plans after college because there is no practice or spend hours talking in their usual favourite spot in college. College fests are a fun time as they get to attend it with their college friend circles.
A common factor that all students who were not in any society talked about was the commitment that societies demand. The practices during college, missing of classes, hectic schedule, extra work, and drained energy every day were reasons to not join. Although they also struggled with notes and assignments, and not all of them attended every single class or kept 100% attendance, but they simply prioritised academics or a better mental and physical health.
Sumati from Kamala Nehru College comments, “I am pursuing Psychology without having studied psychology in school, so I had a tough first year and I only wanted to invest time here. I agree societies help people live college life to the fullest, but they can also put a huge burden or stress.”
Sanyukta Golaya of Indraprastha College for Women commented, “When I joined college, I was never quite as interested or inclined towards societies, the way I was towards my course. I was very clear that any time that I had after my classes would be spent making detailed notes and reading up for the lectures, I had the next day. I didn’t care whether not wanting to be involved in society work made me come off as a bore- I freely choose what I wanted to do with my spare time, and till date, I’m very content with my decision. I’ve managed to make friends, I’m happy with the way I’ve turned out in college, and I couldn’t be bothered whether others believed it to be ‘productive’.”
This perfectly brings out the false ideas of productivity that exist today. Contrary to the popular belief, these people are also able to pursue their passion outside of college through dance or music classes, writing for student magazines, going for MUNs, etc. Many of them find a way to hone their skills and follow their passion without investing their energy in any college society.
Being someone in the debating society, I know that a society can grow on you and you cannot imagine a life without it. Upon speaking to several students, I realised how life in its absence is also very special. Very few students said that they found college boring and, finding college life dull or lonely, they now look forward to joining something next year and the experiences it will bring. Others also talked about the perspective that having observed college for a while and settling in, they now felt ready to join something. But all students were happy with the choices they made, the effort they put in academics or outside and with the routine they chose in college.
To stay relevant in the 21st century – the University of Delhi (DU) needs to let go of its laissez-faire attitude. Read our Editor’s take on why DU is trapped in its own history.
Making it into DU was a dream for so many of us. We battled the unpredictable and exhausting board examinations, obsessed over cut-off lists, and withstood the impossibly frustrating admission process to finally make it here. Once here, all the effort seemed worth it. To study with the brightest people in our generation, participate in DU’s competitive society culture, absorb its active protest culture, and learn under its brilliant faculty, made it a one of a kind experience. This, coupled with a relatively relaxed attendance policy and reasonable fee, was enough to make this place a dream come true. However, three years in the University and my rose-coloured glasses have finally worn off. What I saw as the culture of protest is actually teachers and students demanding basic resources and rights. What was seen as thriving society culture is the students’ way to keep themselves occupied and challenged since the varsity offers few opportunities to do so. The affordability of DU is constantly at threat, with newly established schools like Delhi School of Journalism charging a hefty fee and offering sub par education in return. With the Higher Education Funding Agency and the current government’s obsession with privatisation, DU’s accessibility is historically most vulnerable right now. However, this is not all. The bigger problems with DU are related to its academic rigour. The truth is, towards the end of our three years, there is very little that the institution has taught us. This facade of DU’s reputation has limited influence; recruiters and major corporations are distinctly aware of how little a DU degree teaches you, which is perhaps why they avoid us like the plague. Navigating the process of landing your first job on your own is chaotic and most people seek the security of campus placements. However, in DU, the word ‘placement’ is reserved for commerce students from the five top – ranked colleges in the varsity. It’s not as if commerce students or those in top colleges are necessarily more skilled than the rest of us but selective elitism goes a long way. The rest, pursuing other “non-employable” degrees in the remaining colleges, cannot aspire to be recruited in any capacity. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to DU for the exposure and experiences but they were by and large the product of the hard work of the students who made societies their life and gave them their competitive edge. Apart from its reputation, there is very little that DU offers us. My resentment stems from the fact that I, like my peers, am horribly under-prepared for the real world. It is responsible to revive the curriculum to make it competitive with other universities, and it is their responsibility to realise that their job does not end by offering students mere theoretical knowledge.
Sports facilities in DU are underwhelming and most sports’ quota students find their own way of training themselves independently. Certainly, there is a funding crisis that the varsity is experiencing and the threat of a bigger impending crisis looms above the surface, but even existing funds aren’t appropriately utilised. For example, in 2017, the varsity returned 108 crores to the University Grants Commission (UGC) because it could not find an avenue to spend it. Three crore rupees allocated by the UGC remained under-utilised and had to be returned as well. As I reflect upon my three years in DU, I am grateful for the creative minds I got the opportunity to interact with. However, nostalgia has not clouded my judgment and I know that there was so much more that DU could have offered and so much more that I deserved. The only people who graduate from DU and make it in life should not be B.Com. students, IAS officers, rich kids whose resources get them into an Ivy – league college for Master’s or those studying in Hindu, Lady Shri Ram, Stephen’s, and Hansraj. The rest of us also deserve access to an education that teaches us the required skills, has a curriculum abreast with top international universities, and offers us the opportunity that allows us to get employed if we wish to be. Like an egocentric, ageing actor who cannot get over their glory days, DU is iconic but stuck in the past. It needs to catch up with the times and enter the 21st century. After all, reputations alone can only last so long. Kinjal Pandey [email protected]
The tussle between academics and activities causes trouble to almost all students in the Varsity. But why should such a situation arise at all ?
The students studying in the University of Delhi (DU) are among the top scorers in India. The level of competition therefore, is very high. And these students are good not only in academics but other activities as well. Societies constitute a very important part of the college. There are so many students who prioritize societies over classes. That can be a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.
It is difficult to choose academics or activities, if you have to choose one. I write about this choosing one simply because a point comes during college where you end up tripping, trying to balance between classes and society work. It is not an easy task to choose one, of course but when one has his/her priorities straight, it is not such a difficult task too. For example, in most of the colleges attendance plays a very important part in getting you the admit card for sitting in the examination. Now, when you are involved in an active society, you are to commit yourself towards it. Here, a confusing situation arises. Students often find themselves questioning whether they should go sit in the lectures for the attendance or go for the session of their society.
For all the newbies, here’s a suggestion: Take some time for yourself. Do some thinking. Get your priorities straight. If the lectures feel enlightening and you want to pursue your career in academics in the future, chuck the society. You are one human being who can only manage a couple of things at a time. And there’s no moral obligation here. Talk to your seniors if you find yourself in such a situation. They’ll understand if you’re lucky. Likewise, if the society means much more to you than classes, then go for it. Be honest and make your stance clear.
The thing however, is that this is not always a black and white case. We are encased within this system where we have to attend classes no matter how unhelpful we find them. What is the point of sitting in the classroom, listening to a teacher when your mind is focused on the students sitting outside under the light of the sun practicing their music? It is not just the academics that can guarantee us a successful career, after all.
The academic congress started its buzz with “Pre-Academic Congress” events and workshops conducted by various departments of the college.
Mirror on the Wall: Am I the Loveliest of them All?
Dr. Kanika K Ahuja, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Lady Shri Ram College for Women conducted a body image workshop, ‘Mirror on the Wall: Am I the Loveliest of Them All?’on 28th February as a pre-event to the academic congress. It was an experiential workshop that challenged popular notions of beauty and the ideal body. A striking feature of the workshop was the Mirror Assignment, which required the participants to stand in front of a mirror, observe themselves and write down at least 6 positive qualities about themselves. In the words of Neha Yadav, a second year student, “It made me appreciate those qualities that I normally don’t care enough to notice.”
One Directional Woman and the Feminization of Labour
Dr Nandini Chandra, Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Delhi University, in her session titled, ‘One Directional Woman and the Feminization of Labour’, succeeded in giving a new perspective to feminism. Quoting from important Hindi texts like ‘Naukar ki Kammez’, she expressed the power dynamics that earlier worked, and still prevail in the bourgeois Indian families. In a society that exploits both men and women, she discussed how men are counted as ‘living labours’, with specified working hours and holidays while the women are treated no more than ‘dead labours’, machines that have to work endlessly. This was followed by an interactive question and answer session where Dr. Chandra engaged with the students and faculty.
Workshop on Sexuality
The Political Science Department hosted a workshop on “Sexuality” on 1st March. The workshop was conducted by CREA (Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action), which is a feminist-human rights organisation based in New Delhi. It is one of the few international women’s rights organisations based in the global South, led by Southern feminists, which works at the grassroots, national, regional, and international levels. The workshop focused on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and investigated the links between sexuality, rights, gender and health and their interface with socio-cultural and legal issues.
Other academic congress pre-events include a “Self Defence Workshop” a five day workshop facilitated by the Delhi Police and Ms. Meenakshi Pahuja from 3rd-7th March. On the workshop, Ms. Pahuja says, “The purpose of this workshop is to empower young women especially those who travel alone in Delhi. Our aim is to emancipate women to at least help protect themselves if they are unable to help others.”
On 3rd March, the Journalism and Mass Communication Department organized an interactive session with women journalists of “Khabar Lahariya”, an Indian newspaper published in certain rural dialects of Hindi, including Bundeli and Awadhi. This session was facilitated by Nirantar, which trains and provides ongoing support to rural women journalists publishing the Khabar Lahariya newspaper in local languages.
The pre-congress event schedule also boasts of a creative touch to the conference with “Occupy Wall Street” where we will display graffiti art work of the students on the theme of the congress.
With that the pre-events came to end on 4th March with parallel sessions of a special lecture by Professor Jayanti Ghosh on ‘Gender and Globalization’, screening of ‘Jai Bhim Comrade’ followed by discussion with Anand Patwardhan and ‘Paper Presentation on Gender and Sports’ by Meenakshi Pahuja.
Jayanti Ghosh concluded her talk stating, “I always enjoy coming to Lady Shri Ram College. It is always nice to interact with an intelligent bunch of girls who make me feel positive about the future.”
Patwardhan’s analysis of caste on the other hand helped reflect the gendered caste nature setting a theme for the “GenderKnowledge” with special mentions like the brutal Khairlanji Rape Case.
Bilingual knowledge was also witnessed with a Special Lecture by Dr. Kanchana Natrajan on “The Question of Gender in Hindi Literature” giving a perfect prelude to the academic congress.
The pre-events ended with the declaration that the United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon will be sending his message of solidarity through Ms. Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, Director of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) tomorrow for the Gender Congress on the occasion of International Women’s Day!
The National Science Fest at St. Stephen’s College began with the ‘Inaugural Ceremony’ at 2 pm on 24th January. Principal Rev. Dr. Valson Thampu inaugurated the event with a motivational speech encouraging the young science students to strive for the best, followed by a screening of National Science Fest 2014 official video.
Dr. Patrick Dasgupta, presently a professor at Department of Physics and Astrophysics, University of Delhi, in a NSF Talk, spoke about the fundamentals of black holes, be it Schwarzschild radius or Hawking Radiation. Known for his work in the field of gravitational waves, quasars and cosmology he went on to present the ‘Information Loss Paradox’ associated with black holes. The talk was followed with a question-answer session where the members of the audience, varying from undergraduate students to research scholars, interacted with Dr. Dasgupta. After Dr. Dasgupta’s talk, the triathlon of events began at various venues of the college with the Paper Presentation event in Room A, Debugging Electronicz event at the New Physics Lecture Theatre (NPLT) and a talk on “The Fascinating World of Chemistry” by Dr. Subho Mozumdar, a faculty member of the Department of Chemistry at University of Delhi.
‘Debugging Electronicz’ was based on the idea of testing the participants’ interest and expertise in electronics, and their capability in debugging flawed electronic circuits. It led to an intense final between the two best teams on an actual large circuit, basically a convoluted Adder circuit, where the finalists had to find out the flaws inherent in the realized circuit. Finally, in an all-Stephanian final, Ankit Dhanuka and Motaram clinched the first position, while Abel and Ojasvi received the second prize.
Along the main corridor, in Room A, the paper presentation competition took off with 15 student entries from all over the country belonging to various courses of study. Sahil Mathur, student of Information Technology & Mathematics at the Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) earned the top spot for his paper on “Developing Genetic Algorithm inspired intelligent routing protocol for Wireless Sensor Networks”. The second prize was shared by Raktim Sen and Manasij Pal Chowdhury of Stephen’s and an individual entry by Deepto Mozumdar.