The infrastructural issues of many Colleges continue to deteriorate and no action has been taken for its improvement. Just because students study in a government college, are they supposed to accept the conditions or is there any hope for correction?  Read to find out more.

For many of us it has been a ‘dream come true’ experience as we entered University of Delhi (DU). From living ‘the’ college life to savouring moments that only a student of DU would know, it has been one of the most anticipated journeys that we always wanted to embark on. Words fall short while describing the feeling of finally getting into the college for which you had worked so hard. However, it all comes crashing down because of a few shortcomings and this makes you question your decision of whether you made the right choice. DU is one of the most prestigious institutions of the country but is it really capable enough as it is deemed to be? From a very young age, we have been taught that if we study hard, we will score a government college but is it worth it when even the basic necessities for a decent academic experience are not to be found here.

DU is an institution set up in the times we call history. It becomes quite important to make the necessary adjustments and carry out renovations in regards to the infrastructure. Nevertheless, DU has somewhat failed us in that domain. A number of colleges under DU have reported a lack of basic infrastructure in terms of classrooms and washroom facilities. The buildings may look poised and aesthetic from outside but from the inside a different story has been spinning from a very long time.

The lack of infrastructural care is quite evident in Kalindi College, DU. On talking with a number of students from the college on the pretext of anonymity informed us that none of the washrooms present in the college have proper latches, working flushes, soaps or even a basic standard of hygiene. The loos stink almost all the time. Apart from the washrooms, the buildings of the college are in need of an “immediate renovation”. Walls have not been repaired since years and the paint has cracked and deepened into dry flakes. Further, the condition of the classrooms are in a battered state. The benches and chairs are broken and the doors do not have latches due to which they swing freely. Even in Delhi’s harsh weather, fans of many classrooms fail to work which makes the teaching and learning process a tedious task. There is absolutely no maintenance whatsoever of the college infrastructure. According to various students, the Principal, Dr. Naina Hasija, has been notified about these issues on several occasions including the general body meeting of the students and faculty. However, no steps have been taken to improve the conditions, which continue to deteriorate.

In conversation with a student from Gargi college, DU, told DU Beat about the hygiene issues that persist in their college washrooms. According to the student, the washrooms are very dirty and they are in quite a horrible condition. To add onto this, the student stated that the loos stink almost all the time and they even get flooded with water sometimes. Further, the student brought to light that the first year class representatives brought this matter to the attention of their previous  students’ union and followed the developments. However, they were told that this happens every year and nothing is done about it.

There are Indian loos but the western ones usually have dirty seats which increases the risk of an infection, especially during the menstrual period.

-Student, Gargi College, DU

Amidst the reports of a fan falling over a student in Lakshmibai College, DU, another similar issue has been reported from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College. A student of the college told DU Beat that a fan in their class was shaking hard and during the exams the fan fell down but no one was hurt. However, we await for an official confirmation about the same. Additionally, such infrastructural issues were also reported from Satyawati College, DU. In conversation with a student from the same college, told DU Beat that since the inception of the new building, there has been no maintenance work done for the old building of the college. Besides this, the worrisome conditions of the washrooms are also deteriorating.

The washroom beside our auditorium does not have mirrors while the washroom located above the canteen has mirrors but no water. Urinals do not function and they always stink. Also, the walls of our college are covered with slogans like ‘Join ABVP’ and names of students who are a part of the political parties. The outer beauty of the college has also been compromised because of this.

-Student, Satyawati College, DU

Besides this, there is an infrastructural issue present in Kamla Nehru College as well. In conversation with Taneesha, a student of Kamla Nehru College told DU Beat about the conditions of the classrooms. She informed us about the lack of seating and even classrooms to accommodate the students of any course. She claimed that during the winters, the teachers used to take classes in the shed activity area present in the college or in the ‘choppal’ area. However, in summers too, they are taking classes in that open area under the scorching heat of Delhi, according to her.

Half of the students in ‘choppal’ are eating, some of them are taking a lecture, and some are taking some other lecture. It is a complete mess.

-Taneesha, Kamla Nehru College, DU

Further, she asserted that there are no proper benches to sit on and this is quite evident during the examinations. She claimed that as she entered the class to give her exam, she found no seats left. However, at the end, there was a chair and no table where her roll number was mentioned. According to her, she was asked to sit on the chair and give her paper but at this, she questioned the authorities and asked for a table since without it she would not be able to give her exam. After about ten minutes of searching, Taneesha was given a table as she stated.

Very poor conditions of the classrooms and seating arrangement. The college has a small infrastructure to the extent that the batch of political science has 180 students but it can not even offer the basic infrastructure to 100 students.

-Taneesha, Kamla Nehru College, DU

This does not end here. Another college under DU, perhaps already in a tussle of disaffiliation, College of Arts (COA), has a very dilapidated infrastructure issue. In conversation with Deepika, a student of COA, told DU Beat about the deteriorated conditions present in their college. She stated that the washroom issues continue to remain the same. The restrooms in the college lack door latches and water, have broken windows, and non-functional flushes, as she stated. She asserted that the college has re-painted the walls of the buildings to maintain the “outer beauty” of the college. However, this was done over the wall paintings created by the seniors. According to her, the students are again painting the empty walls to maintain the environment of the college. Another student of COA told DU Beat about the poor conditions of the classroom. Additionally, he claimed that there is no proper drinking water present in the college.

They installed a college flag and painted the entire campus but they are not working to provide the basic needs to the students which should be sorted first.

-Student, College of Arts

The conditions in regards to the infrastructure and hygiene is quite perturbing and troublesome for the students. The authorities must take cognition of the situation and act on it at the earliest.

Read Also: DU and its All-Pervading Issue of Inadequate Infrastructure

Featured Image Credits: swirlgirlspeaks.com

Ankita Baidya

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Toilets experience discrimination when it comes to mainstream discussion. Although it is the basic necessity for health, sanitation and hygiene, and an integral part of gender equality, the plight of the toilets has not been given due attention. The toilets of Delhi University and the inherent gender divide is an exemplary example of this.

Toilets are an essential private place whose significance cannot be denied. Toilets have their own long journey consisting of the faceless sanitation workers and sewage to the manual scavengers involved. The United Nations has declared 19th November as the World Toilet Day which is about inspiring action to tackle the Global Sanitation Crisis and help achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which promises sanitation for all by 2030. The theme for this year is “Leaving no one behind”.

Public toilets are in a dismal state with respect to hygiene, sanitation and other logistics which can be seen in the University space too. Although all the colleges have toilets, there is a dearth of public toilets especially for women in the varsity. Since North and South Campus are open campuses, the college toilets are not available to everyone making public toilets an absolute necessity in the Campus area.

There are limited number of public toilets available and in addition to that there are standee toilets on footpaths for men. People peeing on the walls of the Campus is not a rare sight and therefore the conception of these toilets is understandable. However, these toilets can never be an alternative to clean public toilets.

One of such standee toilets can be seen on the footpath of Chattra Marg in North Campus. The filthy smell emanating from it makes it very uncomfortable for the pedestrians walking on the footpath. And since they are right on the footpath, and there are no proper doors, it poses discomfort to females especially.

In view of the grim state of the public toilets Simran Dhingra, a third year student of the University commented, “Alas! Being a girl I am forced to use the public washrooms during that time of the month to change the pad, and that is the most traumatising experience for me. It just makes me feel sick and vomitish. The washrooms stink and  I literally have to wrap a scarf around my face while entering those washrooms.”

Another student, Shania Mohapatra commented, “I never use public toilets because of the hygiene and bad odour emanating and there are times when I hold my pee for hours and hours till I reach home as I am scared of getting Urinary Tract infections.”

The other aspect of this entire conversation is the alternative present to these street washrooms, college washrooms.

As per NDTV’s report on Delhi Education and facilities, only 43% of colleges have clean, highly maintained college washrooms. Others either don’t have proper sanitation or aren’t maintained well.

Bhumi Raj, Daulat Ram College said “The washroom of the third floor is almost broken. Even though after many complaints, Administration has done nothing so far.”

Struggle for proper sanitation has been part of many Indian movements, yet these haven’t reached our DU colleges yet. Although, it is clearly specified to even have sanitary napkins in restrooms, most college washrooms aren’t even equipped with basic necessities of soap, toilet paper even at times water.

A Student of Delhi University, in conditions of anonymity, told DU beat, “Just recently for more than 2 weeks, most washrooms on our floor didn’t have water. And this is a very common thing to happen in our college.”

The lack of proper facilities has even made the DU students master the art of bladder control. As many students prefer waiting with bursting bladders than to use the college washrooms, in itself it’s a health hazard.

A student said, “People in rural areas suffer a hundred times more, but even students like us, studying in an urban university, have to control our pee because of the absence of a clean and usable washroom. With a daily practice session from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., most of us have mastered the art of controlling our pee.”

On closer inspection, most of the students avoided using the College washrooms. Some had not even used it once. The reason for most of them was the same – dirty, stinky washrooms with no dustbins and soap. Hypocritically, some colleges ensure their washrooms are clean only when the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) comes for inspection to grade the institute. However, the condition goes back to square one after a few days of the inspection. While the problem isn’t as severe in some colleges, certain colleges have an unimaginably bad condition.

A student of Ramjas College said, “Not all washrooms are clean. The ones in the corridors are smelly and unusable. There are no sanitary napkin dispensers.’ A student of Gargi college had a similar complaint. She said, “The washrooms stink terribly. The toilets are dirty and unflushed.”

The colleges of North Campus still have decent toilets with proper maintenance, but it only gets worse as one moves towards the South Campus colleges, and the conditions in Off-campus colleges are highly concerning. It exposes the pattern of the sad reality that the privilege of good washrooms is decided on the basis of one’s ability to meet cut-offs. Even the Staff washrooms remain relatively clean in every college.

Apart from this, Delhi University is also home to a number of students with physical disabilities from different parts of the nation who face real difficulty in general, the least the authorities could do is improve the constraints for them.

Gargi Tyagi, a student of Motilal Nehru College said, “Poor conditions of toilets are probably one of the biggest issues students face. After being around the campus, to different colleges, I observed that it’s mainly the top tier colleges that have their washrooms up to codes. The problem starts from the middle tier colleges where the washrooms do not even meet the usable standards. When it comes to toilets, girls washrooms requires more cleanliness in order for us to use them. It’s a real torture for when we enter the washrooms and find the seats to be unusable, no water to clean after ourselves, no soap to wash our hands or pigeon with its eggs in the nest and then we have to suffer all day without any washrooms around. Even after several applications, authorities fail to do anything about these conditions. I hope colleges decide to do something soon. Until then, I think we’re gonna have to hold it!”

Anisha Sharma, a student of Kamala Nehru College said, “I think that the toilets in our college are below average and could definitely be cleaner and more hygienic. As much as we could request our college staff to get them cleaned more often and take care of the plumbing, I think it’s also important to ask our students to maintain a level of hygiene- to always leave the toilet in the condition they would like to find and use it themselves.”

Taking about the standee washrooms that situate on the broken roads of south campus are far worse. There isn’t much that can be said about those washrooms without a complete face of disgust, yet, addressing them the biggest issue still remains. They’re on the middle of the footpath which take away the privacy of all students walking by. Many times, there’s liquid leaking out of those washrooms that clutters the path. However, sadly, the biggest issue is the lack of them. South Campus only has few of these toilets and they’re predominantly for men.

It’s incredibly distasteful to be called Institute of Eminence and the Capital of the Country without even catering to basic needs of a human. This is a dire issue that Delhi and the varsity must address in great detail. If not, most of the students will contract urinary infections, will be forced to stay at home and University will only give relevance when it’s time to fight over their attendance. Proper sanitation is necessary for not only health and safety, but dignity as well.

Feature Image Credit: Sriya Rane for DU Beat

Sriya Rane

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Chhavi Bahmba

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Avni Dhawan

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It has been five years since the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was first launched on 2nd October 2014. Let us look at the progress this expedition has made so far.

According to the “Broken Windows Theory”, each problem that goes unattended in a given environment, affects people’s attitudes towards that environment and leads to additional complex problems. Our country has proven to be the perfect example of this theory, considering the condition of cleanliness in India, as Indians carry this psychological element in their blood. A website called Top Tens rated India as the second dirtiest country on the planet. According to reports, 29 out of the world’s 100 most polluted cities are Indian cities. It was concluded that the best time for change passed 20 years ago. The question that prevailed was, can India transform into a clean country?

The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched to answer this question with the help of the following steps:

1. To eradicate the system of open defecation in India.

2. To convert the insanitary toilets into pour flush toilets.

3. To remove the system of manual scavenging.

4. To make people aware of healthy sanitation practices.

5. To link people with the programmes of sanitation and public health to generate public awareness.

The objectives that this mission planned to achieve are certain basic facilities that a significant number of people are deprived of. How unfortunate it is that to achieve these fundamental benefits, there arises a need for a campaign at such a large scale in the 21st century! Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is one of the largest cleanliness drives in the world, and it has brought in transformation and traceable health benefits for many. It has helped reduce diarrhoea and malaria among children below five years, stillbirth, and lower birth weight (new-born with weight less than 2.5 kilograms). The priority under this mission has not just been the construction of toilets, but also the induction of a behavioural change in the communities. . The result has been a considerable growth in health parameters, as revealed by various researches. The gains from the cleaner India are important inputs, directly as well as indirectly, for achieving broader economic development objectives. While Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has exhibited great results, and has made remarkable progress, it has also received a fair amount of criticism.

Apart from the primary objectives of the campaign, it also aimed at instigating behavioural change within the people. Reports have shown that the campaign has not exhibited impressive results in that sphere. India has spent about INR 530 crores on the publicity of the campaign itself. Further, even after the Indian Government spending three times more money in making free toilets in comparison to the amount spent by an average Bangladeshi or Nigerian Government, people are reluctant to use them. Though there are many issues a democratic government needs to be criticised for, the reason why India is not becoming clean fast enough has to do with the citizens as with Government’s executive shortcomings. Unless the elephant in the room is not addressed, we are never going to succeed in making India clean. The citizens are reluctant about the steps taken by the Government as it pushes them out of their comfort zone. They still wish to stick to their old lifestyle and not contribute to this revolutionary cause, making the Government’s efforts futile.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindu

Avni Dhawan

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Ahead of the nation-wide ban on plastics scheduled for 2nd October, University Grants Commission (UGC) issues guidelines to ban use of plastics in institutions, urges ‘Swachhata Hee Sewa’.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines to all the higher education institutions across the country to impose a ban on items made from single-use plastics such as bags, packaging materials, straws, and bottles. The move comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’splan of launching a nation-wide revolution against single-use plastics from 2nd October this year, which will mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi – the face of the Swachha Bharat Campaign of the nation. The guidelines issued by the UGC state that the institutions of higher education across the country should systematically ban the use of plastic in their campuses and replace plastics with “environment friendly substitutes.” The guidelines also instruct that every higher education institution in the country should ban single-use plastics in its canteens, hostels and shopping complexes in the institution’s premises.

The guidelines also mandate that institutions must “carry out awareness drives and sensitization workshops on the harmful impacts of single-use plastics, mandate all students to avoid bringing non-bio-degradable plastic items to the institution, (and) install necessary alternative facilities like water units to avoid the use of plastic.”

Prime Minister Modi, in his Independence Day speech, had urged citizens to eliminate the use of single-use plastic, besides suggesting that shopkeepers should provide eco-friendly bags to the customers as an alternative. In his monthly “Mann Ki Baat” address subsequently, he had said that the time has come for the citizens to join hands in curbing single-use plastic.

The decision to curb the use of single-use plastics has been received with a positive response by the institutions of University of Delhi, with colleges such as Maitreyi College and Jesus and Mary College initiating ‘Green Walks’ and cleanliness drives across their campuses to encourage students to keep their plastic usage to the minimum. Dhara, the Eco-Club of Daulat Ram College also organized a drive to minimize the use of plastics in their campus.

The move by the UGC has been brought about keeping in mind the emergence of plastic wastes as one of the biggest environmental concerns adversely impacting soil, water and the health of citizens at large. Excess consumption of plastics combined with limited waste disposal systems in urban areas has become the challenge for disposal systems, and has choked the water bodies in these areas. According to the UGC, educational institutions have the unique spread and influence to educate the students and households on the need for avoiding the use of plastics and hence, it has issued the guidelines.

The guidelines also ask the higher education institutions, which have adopted villages under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, to undertake a campaign in their adopted villages till they are converted into ‘plastic-free villages’ through promoting awareness and encouraging shift to alternative products.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindu

Bhavya Pandey

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