higher education


This article adds to the buzz and discussion surrounding the “degree-walas”- the graduates who have been taking not only social media but also the street food industry by storm.

Graduation ke baad college ke bahar momos ka stall kholenge” (after graduation we’ll open a momos stall outside college) and “Yaar maggi wale bhaiya kitna kamate honge?” (how much do you think the maggi seller earns) are just a few of the many statements that define a college student, particularly one unsure of what the future holds. For most of us, they are merely a lighthearted escape from the constant degree and college slander and are not intended to be taken seriously. These statements, casually thrown around in after-class conversations, are among the many promises that are made and buried over the course of a degree. But much like how some are able to finally turn their Goa and Manali trips into reality, some capably materialise this as well. I dived into writing this piece without realising the commonality of what I was writing about. It turns out that the relationship between rigorous academic degrees and simplistic street food is more ubiquitous than one would have thought.

From MBA Chaiwala to B.tech Panipuri wali, recently it has been quite hard to overlook viral videos on social media wherein fancy degree holders are venturing into classic street food businesses with an added touch of their own. From fire kulhad pizzas to comforting rajma-chawal, there is something for everyone!

Most recent is the virality of Tapsi Upadhyay, a 21-year-old engineering student who captured the attention of food enthusiasts by giving the beloved panipuri (I prefer the term golgappe) a healthier spin. With “air-fried” pani puri and “organic” tamarind and jaggery sauces, she started her business to contribute to a ‘Swasth Bharat’. As much as one could concur our nonchalance towards “healthy” street food, the idea appears to be working for her. Within just 6 months of operations, her team has been able to expand to four carts at multiple locations across Delhi. However, internet users’ reactions to a video detailing her inspiration and hardships, which has gained over 13 million views on Instagram, have been conflicted.

“Hats off that she is doing everything it takes to be her own boss and being financially independent.”- an Instagram user

“A degree doesn’t guarantee a good job with good living standards. Good to see she started something of her own. All the best to her.” – said another user on social, complimenting the business

On the flip side of the coin, a small part of users have also been vocal about this apparent misdirection.

“Not demeaning anyone but can’t understand why people after doing a good education start street food and term it as entrepreneurship. After completing B.Tech one should think of new technology and innovation rather than selling street food.” – a third user on Instagram

“Wearing a cap is cool but wearing a helmet is a taboo.” – remarked another person in reference to “Panipuriwali” being spotted driving a Royal Enfield Bullet without a helmet.


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Snippet from the viral video showing B.Tech panipuri riding a bike with her pani puri stall attached behind, Image Credits: @are_you_hungry007 on Instagram

The tags such businesses possess, which undoubtedly attract intrigue and help with fame, may sometimes have a hint of clickbait as well. For instance, when one hears of MBA Chaiwala, they would inadvertently think of somebody who after slogging for a degree they have no interest in, spent years in the tortuous corporate sector only to realise their true love for making and selling chai. However, the idea simply developed from a rejection from the three-lettered dream college franchise of many graduates. So maybe, if you are looking for a sign to “follow your passion” AFTER doing an MBA, this might not be the best one.

But it goes without saying that one would question how these individuals break free from the shackles of log kya kahenge? (what would people say?) More specifically, why would they need to?

For starters, the ‘hustle culture’ is a term with exceedingly mixed opinions and something that most university students unwittingly fall victim to. However, Indore-born student Ajay is a true example of what grit and perseverance are all about. He sets out at night with “Indore’s first chai on wheels” in the hopes of selling his “Cycle-wali-chai” and making enough money to pay for his coaching, education, and a comfortable sustenance.

Ajay sells tea at night to pay for coaching classes, Image Source: The Indian Express

For others, it might be about embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and the startup wave India takes immense pride in. In an exclusive conversation with DU Beat, Prasenjit Bhowmick talked about his inspiration to work on ‘Engineer Momowala’.

“I always wanted to be in the IT department but my parents forced me to go into mechanical. But I started learning about things like web development and government documentation from YouTube so I could work in a real estate company. But the turning point was when I realised that if I could help a company go from a shuttered office to 8 branches in a single city in just 10 months, then why couldn’t I build a successful company of my own?”

For a Bangalore couple that went viral for reportedly earning 12 lakhs a day, ’Samosa Singh’ was about owning something of their own and possessing the desire to take it to newer heights. Transitioning from high-paying jobs and selling their apartment to build the company further must not have been the easiest of tasks, but their love and devotion towards samosas and its “reclamation of the rightful place among Indian snacks” got them where they are- a company with an annual turnover of 45 crore rupees.

People jumping on this bandwagon might also be doing so as a means of escaping the grind of a 9–5 job. With India recently becoming the most populous country (yes,that day has finally arrived and no, it’s not 2030 yet) and job seekers outnumbering quality job openings, this could offer significant respite from the dearth of employment opportunities in a highly competitive economy. This is what was experienced by Priyanka Gupta, a 25-year-old economics graduate from Bihar, who became Patna’s ‘Chaiwali’ after failing to crack bank examinations for two years. Being a student of economics myself, I would understand the need to do away with the quantitative distress the degree unfurls on you (smiles painfully), but starting a ‘tapri’ of your own is harder than it sounds.

“I went to different banks and asked for a PM Mudra Loan, but they refused. Finally, after running around for one and a half months, I borrowed 30,000 from a college friend.” – Priyanka Gupta, ‘Graduate Chaiwali’

Lastly, I wonder if the fame and existence of such ventures is short-lived. With over 50 million videos across social media, are these only for a one-time experience and places restricted to a couple of Instagram stories and reels? I wonder if we are responsible for over-popularizing them, it is after all just chai and samosa.


Read also: The Home Conundrum, and the Battle of Graduating – DU Beat – Delhi University’s Independent Student Newspaper

Featured Image Credits: Hindustan Times

Manvi Goel
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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
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With the advent of a new year and semester, thousands of applicants rush to coaching centres for preparation help and counselling sessions. To ease out the process, DU Beat brings to you a guide to applying abroad.  

With the end of the 5th semester for the third-year students, it’s time to start looking at higher education opportunities, in India and outside. We, at DU Beat, bring to you a guide that can help one can track the plan and set in motion the application process to get in line for the opportunity to study at the best institutions.

1.Checking Educational Requirements

The first step is identifying the countries and institutions that one has access to. By that, I mean, focussing on colleges that accept applicants with 15 years of education or a three year undergrad degree. In brief, all major Ivy league and cream colleges of USA and Canada accept only 16 years of education as a minimum for application. Yet, it is advisable for candidates to mail the respective colleges to inquire, as some colleges are lax with this criterion in the presence of good work experience. On the other hand, almost all UK and EU colleges or Asia based colleges accept applicants with 15 years.

  1. Checking Cut- Off Marks

Another major criteria are cut-off marks that worry a lot of kids. Most colleges would ask for 2:1 minimum marks which is roughly 60% or 6.0 CGPA, while some (mostly ivy leagues) go up to 1:1 or 75% or 7.5 CGPA. Even if a candidate doesn’t have the minimum required marks or CGPA, one can still write to the college and ask for consideration with an adequate reasoning of how the marks don’t define one’s ability and aptitude correctly.

  1. Marking the Calendars

The next step is to make a list of programs that one wants to partake in and mark the opening and deadline dates for the applications. US applications generally open up in August whereas UK applications open in October. These dates are important as the sooner one applies, the higher are the chances for one to get admission. One should also check out the required exams list, these are extra exams that students from foreign countries are required to partake in and score a minimum amount. The general ones include: GRE, GMAT, TOEFL and IELTS, the latter two being English language exams. These exams happen all year round and can be taken at any sitting of choice. IELTS happen 4 times a month. These results can stay valid for over 2 years and 3 years in some cases as well, so an aspirant can take them before hand as well.

  1. Collecting Documents

The next step is to collect all the required documents, majorly the most important documents are:

  1. LOR (Letters of Recommendation) –

These are documents written by professors, employers, etc. in order to recommend an individual to a college for higher education. They are, thus, also divided into two: Academic and Work. The minimum number of LOR’s required is 2 and there is no maximum limit as such. Applicants should make sure that there LOR’s are personal and represent them properly.

  1. SOP (Statement of Purpose) –

An SOP (usually 1000 -1500 words) is an essay about the applicant, why the applicant is choosing the college and program, and what makes them suitable. Some colleges provide specific questions that need to be answered in the SOP and hence, the kids need to carefully go through the documents page of the application guidelines

  1. CV/Resume – A basic document detailing important information about the candidate along with the experience (jobs, education, extracurricular, etc.) of the candidate.
  2. College, 12th , and 10th grade mark sheet – An original copy of the official marksheets of these classes.
  3. Certificates and letter of acceptance from past jobs and internships


One should have these documents in hand during the application process. With the online application system, it is best to have their scanned copies too in .JPEG or .txt format. Most colleges also put limits on size of the file (i.e. 2MB).

With all of these things in hand, one can apply to colleges abroad easily. There are a lot of counselling organisations like ‘The Chopras’ or ‘IDP’ that help students with the process, but colleges usually prefer kids applying out of their own merit and will.


Feature Image Credits: Istock

Haris Khan

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Students and aspiring college teachers from across different universities staged a protest outside the University Grants Commission (UGC) office on June 16, 2017. The protest demonstration was against the scrapping of the National Eligibility Test (NET) in July.

Earlier in January, the University Grants Commission (UGC) decided to scrap the National Eligibility Test (NET) exam scheduled for July 2017 and shifted it to November 19. This meant that the NET exam in December won’t take place this year. The exam that was held twice a year and conducted for 83 subjects at multiple locations across the country, will now onwards only be held once a year.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which has been holding the test since 2014, had last week notified that the NET would be held in November. Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi, chairman of CBSE, wrote to the HRD ministry resonating that due of heavy workload the JRF exam should be held just once a year. The exam in which over 5 lakh candidates take the exam every year, has been held twice a year since it was started in 1984.

The protesting students also raised concerns over the reduction of the cap to qualify for NET at 6 per cent from the 15 per cent earlier. They have also started a “Save NET exam” online petition, which will be submitted to the UGC. The petition can be found here. 

Demonstrators said that holding it once a year will increase pressure on students. They attributed the reduction in qualifying percentage is part of a bigger plan where the government is enervating public funded education, by scuttling funds and seat cuts.

Feature Image credits: DU Fights back fb page

Niharika Dabral

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The World Trade Organisation deals with the formulation and implementation of international trade rules. Its objectives also include raising the standards of living in member nations, ensuring full employment and expanding the production of goods and services. A Ministerial Conference, that is held every two years, conducts the business of the WTO. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) implies that WTO members have varying degrees of commitments in individual service sectors, like transport, education, banking and health.

At the Nairobi Ministerial Conference, slated to take place from 15th to 18th December, 2015, education is on the agenda. India is expected to sign the WTO-GATS agreement at Nairobi, according to which foreign direct investment will be permitted in the education sector. Foriegn universities will set up their campus in the country, and this entails service charges. The WTO will also be given the rights to control India’s education policy through its own accreditation body. Those opposed to this agreement claim that it transforms education into a ‘tradeable service,’ thereby commercialising an important aspect of public welfare. Once the education sector is placed within the purview of WTO norms, it is alleged that the people’s right to education will be rendered redundant, denying education to the poor.

Once it is considered a ‘commodity’ that can be traded in, the sanctity of education will be destroyed. Commercialisation of the education sector can lead to the destruction of the autonomy that academic institutions may enjoy in terms of the syllabus or academic research. Those companies that ‘trade’ in education will be wooed, and their interests protected by the government. Education will then become a ‘market,’ governed by the forces that all markets that trade in goods and services are subject to.

The mere presence of foreign universities in the country can only be beneficial, however, if the purpose of this entry into the country is business and profit, the overall quality of education in the country will only be hampered. The commodification of an essential service, and global trade in the said service, can have two consequences- in India, it can either provide Indian students access to foreign universities and their resources, or contrarily, it can lead to a decline in the overall quality of education in the country owing to unnecessary institutional and administrative influences and restrictions. Thus, India’s stand on the WTO-GATS agreement must be carefully considered, with the Indian education sector in mind.


Sources: http://thecompanion.in/fight-against-inclusion-of-higher-education-in-wto/


Abhinaya Harigovind

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