Student societies are a quintessential part of Delhi University. DU is a melting pot of cultures, but can the same be said about its societies? This is an attempt at examining student-run societies through the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity) Lens.

Delhi University continues to be known as a hub of academic excellence and scholastic development. Equally popular and beloved is the vibrant extracurriculars and co-curricular scene at the University. The idea of ‘Learning beyond the classroom’ is on the rise, and college student-run societies are the perfect playing ground for students looking to explore diverse passions. Be it the sharp-witted eloquence of Debating Societies, the dynamic hubbub of Dramatics Societies, or the intellectually-stimulating discussions of academic societies, most colleges offer students a wide range of options to choose from.

Delhi University is a popular destination for students from not just all parts of the country but abroad as well. DU is always scoring points for diversity within its student and staff bodies – whether this is tokenistic or empowering remains to be seen. While academic spaces have thrown their doors open for all individuals irrespective of their backgrounds, the same cannot be said about activities outside the classroom. Student-run societies, clubs, and cells are often ridden with elitism, bigotry, and toxicity.

Bade Log Societies

With several societies (numbers going as high as 50+) jostling for space, funds, and popularity within the college, insurmountable hierarchies are established and meaningful change seems improbable. In an already elitist university, some societies project themselves as top-tier owing to their legacy, work, or alumni. The rivalry between newly minted clubs and age-old soc machinery with admin backing is a familiar scene. This essentially pits creative pursuits like dance, drama, or music against co-curricular ones like economics, political science, or consulting. The never-ending battle for supremacy is won semester after semester on metrics like the number of students joining a society or the grandeur of its annual fest.

Despite their goals to be safe spaces for one to explore their passions and interest, entry into these societies is quite similar to the race for meeting the sky-high cut-offs of the ‘dream colleges’ in DU. Starry-eyed freshers flock to orientations that promise them riches in the form of self-development, CV pointers, and a second family. Societies battle for prime-time slots and locations to conduct these orientations – while some can book the air-conditioned seminar hall or provide refreshments (as bribery perhaps), others are stuck discussing their activities in sun-beaten lawns.

Turns out the seminar room was booked two months in advance for orientation by 5-6 societies. We didn’t even know when the new batch would be coming in.

– Secretary of a student club.

Equity – A Level Playing Field?

These societies are characterised by rigorous application processes involving elements like group discussions, personal interviews, research tasks, and auditions. More often than not, those with a certain level of pre-existing expertise in the field have the upper hand. Students from privileged, high-income, English-speaking backgrounds have a clear edge over their peers from marginalised sections. Tier 1 societies in colleges are often crowded with students who had access to private schooling or have connections and money for societies to exploit.

Also, applications often open around the same time, bombarding freshers with countless options and hollow promises. Societies that were set up to provide solace from academic rigour and a space to unwind, end up becoming a key source of frustration. A student’s worth which was earlier measured in marks and percentages is now linked with the societies or extracurriculars they choose to pursue.

I think getting into SRCC was easier than making into its societies. I would rather get 99% in boards than sit through another GD.

– a frustrated first-year from SRCC.


With ‘woke’ culture and progressive and liberal ideas on the rise, these societies are quick to join the bandwagon. Competitions and discussions on topics like women empowerment, queer solidarity, tackling casteism, and body positivity are popular. However, the irony lies when one takes a cursory glance at the organisers of such events – upper class, high-income and privileged. Authentic representation takes a tumble when societies erect entry barriers for minority students.

“Galore – the fashion society, has a narrow view when it comes to selecting candidates – thin, tall, and fair. I find this funny since every event of theirs focuses on body image and body positivity.” – a student of Maitreyi College calls out the double standard of DU Fashion Societies.

The recent transphobia incident at Mark-It, the marketing society Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Student also raised outrage and questions about the lack of queer representation within the society which allowed such an event to transpire.

Even when entry is granted, non-confirming thinkers are ostracised and targeted. Group think and bias are widely prevalent with juniors acting as ‘Yes-Men’ for seniors.

“Debating allows you to express your opinions. However, I was actively discouraged and shunned from putting forward views which went against those of the Society President. This was especially sad seeing that it was a Debsoc.” – a student recounting her time at Trenchant, the English Debating Society, Maitreyi College.

Often students from South-Indian and North-East states have to deal with microaggressions or blatant discrimination from seniors and peers within these societies.

Inclusivity – The Way Ahead

After repeated call-outs and introspection, societies are acknowledging their shortcomings and working towards creating diverse and inclusive spaces. Open societies are such a step where everyone, irrespective of experience is granted entry and collaborative learning is pursued. Proactive changes to the induction and cabinet election processes have done small but meaningful wonders.

We recently had our executive council elections and the council also holds reserved seats for caste and gender minorities. In our soc, we have people from several different backgrounds, even people from non-English medium backgrounds who have unique ideas, and with debating are also honing their English skills

– A First-year member of The Debating Society, DCAC talks about inclusivity within the collegiate debating circuit.

Experiences vary across societies and colleges. Ultimately it is the student body, POR holders, and TICs who can create and incorporate mechanisms to tackle elitism. Age-old restrictive practices need to be done away with and massive structural upheaval is necessary. DU societies should actively reflect the rich diversity of its student body. There is much ground to cover ahead but the power to create sincere change lies with every student interacting with these societies in any capacity.

Featured Image Credits: Dramsoc SRCC Instagram

Read Also: Toxic Culture of DU Societies: Seniors with Junior Mindsets


Bhavya Nayak

[email protected]

NEP 2020 is envisioned towards creating an inclusive education to all by bridging the abiding spaces in the society. Yet, it seems to just be a façade of progression. The policy is ought to introduce the much needed practicality into the mainstream education but what is the correct way to go about it? Is it going to be an actual consideration of voices of all the stakeholders or will it be a theoretical approach to a ‘practical solution’?

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has a vision towards transforming the Indian education system into a global knowledge superpower. It lays down the veracious purpose of the education system, to develop virtuous human beings having rational and critical ability, empathy and solicitude, creativity and the power to go beyond but what is the cost to implement this? Will this be uniform for each child living under the same sky or a question of ‘subjectivity’ would arise?

NEP address to the practical knowledge and skills like carpentry etc but see now the things is that our government schools do not even have quality teachers how can you equip them all in such a small time frame, so first government should be focusing on ground development rather than looking on to the entire nations prosperity.

-Malvika Choudhary, Delhi School of Journalism

The irony of this policy is such that it is a step towards changing the theoretical approach into practicality but the policy itself sounds too theoretical than pragmatic. While observing the NEP 2021, inclusivity is a major factor of the entire policy. Yet, there are provisions that might look like encompassing all the sections of the society. However, in the actuality of this realm, it is only pushing the way towards widening the gaps of disparity. It is as if a kid falls down, gets hurt on the knee and starts wailing; rather than using a bandage to heal the wound, they are being given licorice in pursuit of ceasing the tears. The question is not about if these provisions are good or bad but about the “tomorrow” that the nation is trying to build.

The problem in NEP is that it scarcely mentions of affirmative action in the form of reservation for the socially oppressed anywhere in the document moreover it also talks about financial autonomy for the government which will lead to rise in fees and so more exclusion of the students.

-Aman, Ramjas College, member of Students’ Federation of India (SFI)

The NEP emphasizes on the sitch of inclusivity and universal education. However, granting the status of autonomy is only going to widen the gaps. Autonomous colleges and universities can introduce independent rules and regulations and curtail the transparent admission processes which guarantee the seats to the marginalised sections. Further, they can enjoy the liberty of introducing expensive self-financed courses. This step does not speak inclusion, instead, is screaming omission.

The National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 is a policy aimed at commercialization, privatization, centralisation and saffronisation of the education system in the country. In the garb of granting ‘autonomy’ to educational institutions, the NEP gives unbridled power to the institutions to implement fee hikes as per their will. It turns education from a responsibility of the state and a social service, into a profit making enterprise. This will further lead to education being inaccessible and a debt trap for the coming generations and the present.

-Prabudh Singh, graduate from Zakir Hussain Evening College, member of SFI

Adding to this, the policy emphasizes on the need to set up a ‘Gender-Inclusion fund’. On the surface it seems to be bringing an end to the unjust practices against the girls and transgender but as a matter of fact what is in it for them? Will it bring solace to the wronged genders or will it welcome even more adversities than it is already present?

This fund will be set- up to provide equitable quality education to the transgender students and girls, especially belonging to the socio-economically disadvantaged groups. However, this step would require the transgender students to come out and identify themselves in the public eye. We are living in a progressive country but not progressive enough to even provide security to this section through penal laws. From a classroom to the roadside tea stall, slurs are normalized against trans people then how are we supposed to believe that a fund is going to solve these deep-rooted problems? Are we supposed to turn a blind eye towards the underlying issues and focus on the surface?

A trans student dressed up as a boy for every single day until he finished his final school examination and secured a seat in a foreign land. It was then that he recognized himself as she/her. It took her nearly twelve to fourteen years to come out in the public eye since she has the sense of security of leaving the country so how are we supposed to accept the fact that by introducing a fund, by providing bicycles, provisions of sanitation and quality education, the long-lived stigma will come to an end? Is this enough to turn the thorns into roses when the country finds it normal to laugh them out?

Certain aspects of the NEP might have long term detrimental effects, after lapsing the short-lived happiness. It is a good decision but not a thoughtful one. The gender inclusivity fund is a good start per say, but at some point these students will be exposed to the vulnerability that our society hides. A system has to be incorporated that would not throw these students under the bus and would provide them from basic needs to quality education.

-Sanya Gupta, a student of Kamala Nehru College

Furthermore, the policy talks about introducing similar inclusion funds for other marginalised sections. These funds are in the talks for their holistic wellbeing in addition to equitable and quality education. These steps look good on paper but are they a promise to a long-term happiness or just a fantasy of seventh heaven? Not to mention, how are we supposed to address the issue of ‘roti, kapda aur makaan’ on the pile of discriminatory laughter and societal stigma. On top of all these, the perplexing situation arises about the source of the funds, given that we live in a country with quite a number of marginalised groups. Even if they are introduced, how is the question of transparency in terms of usage of the funds is going to be answered? These funds seem to be a wolf in a sheep’s skin. From exposing to a greater vulnerability to a possibility of widening the societal gap, this policy needs to be rethought from the perspective of the wronged ones.

The NEP-2020 is set to be implemented completely by 2030. Given that India has the second largest population in the entire world, not only is it a strenuous task but also mapping the various tangibles for over 250 million students, next ten years seem to be quite a less number.

NEP 2020 is very promising in theory, but its implementation is way difficult, especially in a country like India which ranks second in population. Surely, there’s a long way ahead for the Indian education system to grow and develop under the NEP, 2020. There is a need to shift from mugging up facts and figures to encourage creativity and practical experiences.

-A Professor of University of Delhi in conversation with DU Beat

Besides a problematic implementation, it needs to account for all the tangibles that come along with it. The most quintessential stakeholders of this policy, the students, believe that the demerits of the policy might overpower the actual vision which in turn could lead to a massive failure if not addressed. Nevertheless, this policy might be the much needed change to one the largest education systems of the world but which lines are we ready to blur in order to achieve the top rank?

Featured Image Credits: itstimetomeditate.org 

Ankita Baidya

[email protected]


Education is the foremost right of all people. Wanting their representation in books shouldn’t be a privilege. This piece aims to highlight the importance of Inclusive Curriculum in modern day schools.

As a society, we’re constantly refusing the ideals of patriarchy and discrimination. It’s imperative to realise, that those ideals could be illustrated in books as well. The curriculum students are taught at colleges or schools act as a medium for to resonate with the world. However, the curriculum taught hasn’t been changed since past many years.

The book assigned to my mother is the one I still have to study now. Curriculum should be periodically updated to ensure its reflecting the current state of society, not how it was a century ago. There’s a huge part of modern day relationships, identities and choice that is completely ignored in this course.

Inclusive curriculum is defined as an approach to course and unit design, and to teaching-learning practice which aims to improve access and successful participation in education of groups traditionally excluded from tertiary education.

This is to show students that there are people just like them in this multicultural society, so they feel better engaged with their schoolwork and can better relate to course materials. If there is no representation of their identity, race, sexuality, religion or nationality embedded within the course, many end up feeling disillusioned and demotivated.

As per the Times report, more than 63% of students cannot relate to the subject being taught in school and feel demotivated instead. For example, its like opening a brown magazine with an extremely fair cover girl with European features. After seeing that magazine, there’s a high chance you might find yourself less beautiful. Just the same way students who are from oppressed communities do not see themselves in the course they study, yet are still expected to comprehend it.

An inclusive curriculum helps them see that all walks of life are relevant and important, and that they are in a safe environment where everyone is not only accepted, but celebrated. People all over the world, are starting to recognise this, and many have started implementing a more inclusive curriculum. They are already seeing positive changes in students, reporting higher rates of achievement and better engagement.

The other aspect of Inclusive Education is to make students familiarise with modern complexities like social media management, financial literacy, scientific temperament, and political ideologies that affects them. It’s an attempt to give an exposure of real life situations to students in these institutions to make them informed citizens.

For you to understand the concept much better, here are few examples of good teaching practice in an inclusive curriculum. Introducing students to LGBTQIA+ literature, about regressive Transgender Bill,supporting female Muslim students in physiotherapy education, teaching capitalism to students of economics, rural geography, auto-ethnic profiling, co-creating the curriculum for fine arts and, history, and faith, spirituality, and social work.

Inclusive curriculum will be a revolutionary tool in modern day education. It will help raising sensitive, kind and socially aware students than cramming expert robots. The education will go far beyond than just acing exams, it will result in informative classroom discussions and will make students more accepting of their flaws and other people. Inclusive curriculum is a great way to raise awareness about and then eventually solve many social evils prevailing in the society.

Feature Image Credits: Vaibhav Tekchandani for DU beat

Chhavi Bahmba 

[email protected] 

Mr. Manoj Tiwari, the Minister of Parliament (MP) from East Delhi sanctioned the funding for two mini-buses to be able to provide safer transport facilities for the differently-abled students in the University of Delhi (DU).

Mr. Shakti Singh, the current President of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) requested Mr Manoj Tiwari who is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from East Delhi for better transportation facilities for the differently abled.

INR 19,90,000 were sanctioned for the purchase of two Data Winger Motor Cars from the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund. These mini buses were provided to Delhi University’s Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC)

Singh made this appeal on the 17th August and two days later, in a communique to the Commissioner, Mr. Tiwari has instructed the corporation to issue technical, financial and administrative sanctions within a time frame of 75 days.

The letter written by Mr. Tiwari to sanction the mini-buses for differently-able students Image Credits: Ashutosh Singh for Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)
The letter written by Mr. Tiwari to sanction the mini-buses for differently-able students
Image Credits: Ashutosh Singh for Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)

The University used to have transport facilities which were stopped in the year 2009. The differently abled living in the hostels had to go through various difficulties. Tactile paths were lacking which made it difficult to move freely. This was then later on dealt with by DUSU.

Shakti Singh DUSU President shared with DU Beat that, “Bohoth sari problems maine dekhi jispar humne kaam kiya. Pehla tha food jisko humne solve kiya, dusra tha tactile path, voh asuvidha bhi humne door kardi. Divyang chatro ko pedal jana padtha hain jo kaafi kathin hain. Humne Tiwari Ji se bath ki aur unhone fund release kardiya. Within 45 days ye laagu hoga (We saw various problems that we worked on. The first one being food which we solved second was tactile path. We resolved that incontinence as well. The physically impared had to walk which is a difficult task. We spoke to Mr. Tiwari and they released the fund. This shall be implemented within 45 days)”

He added that there were further facilities that needed to be provided and that DUSU was working on the same.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindu

Stephen Mathew

[email protected]


The draft of the New Education Policy (NEP), 2019 is a progressive step towards liberal education in India. The guidelines laid down by the policy for the education of the transgender community is momentous in view of the discrimination faced by them for eons now. However, a pragmatic view is critical for its actualisation in a complex society like ours.

The current draft NEP has been spearheaded by former Chairman of Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO), and noted scientist K. Kasturirangan. It has brought about some encouraging reforms like conferring of the Right to Education to children under six and above 14, doubling of the overall financial allocation to education and strengthening the teaching profession which was much acknowledged.

One of the transcending steps taken by the NEP is to provide equitable and inclusive education to transgender students. The plight of the transgender students to pursue an education in a society where they are perceived as taboo and face harsh criticism, this move to make educational spaces inclusive was a much-needed effort.

The draft NEP mentions,

“The Policy recognises the urgent need to address matters related to the education of transgender children and initiating appropriate measures to remove the stigma and discrimination they face in their life with respect to education. The creation of safe and supportive school environments which do not violate their constitutional rights will be accorded priority.”

It lays down guidelines for ensuring participation of transgender children in school education and thus exposing students about the issues faced by transgender children at an early stage for better social acceptance. The policy talks about developing a plan in consultation with transgender students and their parents regarding the use of their names and access to restrooms and other spaces, corresponding to their gender identity. Although this is a positive move to secure access based on their sexual identity, in a country like India with a high incidence of sexual crimes, it is unclear how the policy aims to safeguard their access to such places and deal with the stigma associated with it.

“The curriculum and textbooks will be reoriented to address issues related to transgender children, their concerns, and approaches that would help meet their learning needs,” the policy outlines. Our curriculum in primary, secondary or high schools has never talked about transgender and sexual identity. Including these topics in the syllabus and empathising with these issues will bring in a new wave for social acceptance.

Tanay Sinha, a 21-year-old from Rajdhani College welcomed the move and commented, “This will definitely help in making students aware and have empathy for the struggles transgenders have to go through on a day to day basis. Education and awareness about them and also how they’re just like any other human being, would make children respect and normalize the idea of being transgender. Most importantly, textbooks at school level are seen as The Truth so children would take no time in humanising the idea of transgenders.”

Transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi said in an interview, “I was bullied at school for being feminine, and my confidence was destroyed.” Introducing transgender rights and sensitisation on the topic would play the role of a catalyst in changing the stigmatized picture of the transgender community. However, the policy doesn’t touch upon sexual identities pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community, other than transgenders.

Exclusion and discrimination they face have severely restricted their social existence, rights to education and livelihood and has created gender identity crisis. The gender issues have always been decked in forcing people to opt for the category of either masculine or feminine; in our culture, the answer both or neither are generally not acceptable.

“I have noticed how they (people identifying with the LGBTQ+ community) are never accepted fully, and it’s not a welcoming and conducive environment for them to learn. You have to deal with confused people and then go on to take lessons explaining them. This is where the real hardship lies,”  Tanay adds further on this discussion.

Although the NEP has attempted to create guidelines, the implementation and actualisation in our complex social scenario remains unclear. It is reiterated by the fact that even the higher educational institutes struggle to bring the transgender students into mainstream education which was seen in this year’s University of Delhi application process. According to the official data released by the varsity, there was only one transgender applicant among 3.67 lakh candidates.

Prejudice based on gender has always been prevalent. Sensitization and awareness do not necessarily mean social acceptance and their integration in mainstream education. Inclusivity, awareness, and respect is a step forward for correcting the social offences the society has committed against the transgender community. The draft NEP 2019 has provided a basis for a much required progressive change. However, its implementation in the current scenario and its standpoint on the other stripes of the rainbow remains unclear.



Feature Image Credits: Edex live


Sriya Rane

[email protected]





With only one transgender applicant this year and no enrollments for regular courses since 2015, the University has had enough reminders to realise the plight of transgender students. DU Beat explores this decline.

University of Delhi (DU) receives the highest number of applications for various courses in the country, and this year was no different. The University received more than three lakh applications, though there was a decline from last year. 3,67,895 number of applications is no less a number, even as only 2,58,388 proceeded ahead and made payments.  In all these applications, women yet again seemed to have become a majority, 84,021 female candidates and 68,457 male candidates applied to the University. Shockingly, only one transgender person has submitted an application this year as compared to last year, or 2017 when the university had 36 applications.

According to the data, the scheduled tribe category saw 4,044 male applicants and 3,056 female applicants. Over 17,000 male candidates and 16,000 female candidates had applied in the SC quota and about 32,926 male candidates and approximately 22,531 female candidates applied for the Other Backward Classes (OBC) non-creamy layer quota.

The newly introduced EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) that has a ten percent quota in the university admissions also had  5,528 male candidates and 3,562 female candidates. This year the varsity has increased its capacity to 62,000 number of seats. It has been stated that there would be a separate cut-off for the EWS category.

The fact that only one transgender student has applied is a huge warning to the varsity. There seems to be very liitle that the university has been able to do to make the college spaces safe for the transgender community. It seems that the stigma attached to the community has not yet gone away and a singular application speaks volumes in this regard. There have been cases of harassments faced by transgenders from other students and staff and that may have been the reason for this decline in approaching the university for admissions.

With incidents of transgender persons being asked, “Since when have you been a transgender person?” by the admission staff. Being subjected to derogatory remarks during the admissions, they tend to take up vocational courses and steer away from the University space.

Even though the TRC (Transgender Resource Centre), established in 2018 had come up with various outreach programs to bring more students to the University fold, they seem to have not yielded substantial results. These outreach programs had begun during the month of April this year.

Equal rights activist Harish Iyer said that he would be writing to the Chief Minister of Delhi about this issue. “If that one candidate seeks admission to a college of DU, the whole college and especially the teaching and the non-teaching staff have to ensure that the student feels at ease and accepted. The civil society has to come together to address the issue.” he stated.

According to officials, last year there were applications from transgender aspirants but no one enrolled for regular courses. The varsity had introduced the Other category in 2015, but there have been no admissions to the regular course under this category so far.

Rajesh from the Department of Adult Continuing Education and Extension said, “Around 15 transgender students had come to us with queries but they all had queries about School Of Open Learning and Indira Gandhi National Open University. They usually prefer to enrol as male or female in regular courses or for distance learning education.”

The University needs to gear up to make sure that more and more transgender students feel welcome in the college space.  This year needs single registration needs to be a stern reminder for the same. It is all of us together who decide for us and others around us. Let us all try to accept each other and build a better future. Marks build your CV, not your character.

Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Stephen Mathew

joice.mathew [email protected]



At first, the idea of having gender-neutral washrooms in a university space may seem drastic; however,  we cannot let this kind of conservatism become an excuse for the administration to keep wearing the cloak of queer-invisibility and remain conveniently ignorant.

Any transgender person usually experiences their first episode of invisibility in deciding which washroom to use. While they may not overtly fit in to use the gender-aligning washroom, using the other washroom can feel violating and uncomfortable.

When a person transitions gender, it is not a quick process. It takes months if not years before the secondary sex characteristics of the person’s correct gender start to appear. While we wish for a better society where open-acceptance and inclusion of queer people exists, it undeniably will take us some time. Using gender-confirming bathrooms can possibly lead to abuse, humiliation, and assault. Imagine being laughed at, questioned or beaten up for attempting to meet a very basic need. Such a situation demands universities to build gender-neutral washrooms, at-least one if not many.

Jody L. Herman, Williams Institute Manager of Transgender Research conducted a study on “Gendered Restrooms and Minority Stress: The Public Regulation of Gender and Its Impact on Transgender People’s Lives.” This scientific study found that 70 percent of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents experienced problems in gender-specific restrooms in Washington, D.C., with people of colour and people who have not medically transitioned often faring worse than others.

Following the lead of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in their celebrated decision of building gender-neutral hostels, the University of Delhi (DU)  can do the same. Keeping the binary washrooms intact, a gender-neutral washroom could be installed so as to avoid any confusion and possible abuse. While the administration might think that the transgender and non-binary population is “minuscule”, it is not the case. Many transgender people stay in the closet in fear of societal and parental rejection. Not only would building gender-neutral washrooms ensure that a significant amount of fear and discomfort that they experienced using the non-aligning washroom went away, it would ensure that the needs of transgender people are recognised and acknowledged.

Feature Image Credits: BlogTO

Raabiya Tuteja

[email protected]

The recent autonomy granted to 60 higher education institutions by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has unleashed debates regarding the increasing commercialisation of the education sector of the country. The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) has been on strike for the past five days protesting against the  70:30 ratio of funding recommended for central universities, which would lead to the blurring of line that separates the fee structures of private and public-funded education. Under this new funding formula, universities are being asked to generate 30% of the additional costs towards revised salaries for teachers and non-teaching staff on account of the 7th Pay Revision. If this formula is implemented, higher education will become inaccessible to thousands.  The teachers have reportedly called their students to join the strike and show their solidarity. In such a highly charged atmosphere, it is apparent is that our access to affordable, high-quality education is in grave danger.

Ideally, it is the government’s responsibility to invest in higher education (as is the case in countries like Germany, Mexico, Finland), but the UGC’s new funding policy of grants being replaced by loans through the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) for any infrastructural needs of universities means that the burden of providing affordable education would shift to parents and students. This has far-reaching consequences as it would lead to the marginalisation of students from backward communities and sections, an exclusivist academia, and eventually, the homogenisation and unilateralism of critical thinking.

Commenting on similar privatisation of American universities, Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and political activist pointed out how when corporate values and money start to govern the education sector, there are disastrous consequences ranging from greater job insecurity to a division of the society into the “plutonomy” (the small group which has the highest concentration of wealth) and “precariat” (the rest of population who live a precarious existence). Such a thrust for creating profit and hence, an emphasis on vocational courses and skills that would fit a globalised, capitalised world would mean that education would become education for the sake of it, and thereby lose its value. Colleges and universities would be forced to sell their brand, their reputations to generate funds for their use.

The rich cultural diversity of campuses such as DU and the empowerment of marginalised sections through affirmative action would cease to exist. Subjects like liberal arts, minority studies, gender studies, language courses are bound to get sidelined for their sheer ‘impracticality’ in a free-market economy. As Debra Leigh Scott mentions “If you remove the disciplines that are the strongest in their ability to develop higher level intellectual rigour, the result is a more easily manipulated citizenry that is less capable of deep interrogation.” Education would just be another commodity, available to the highest bidder.

What is even more disheartening is the lack of awareness among the students about how much this issue affects us all at the primal level. The fees hike would lead to an exclusive admission procedure, which would in turn increase the social and economic disparity between classes and various regions, leading to greater unemployment and higher dropout rates. The state has been carefully constructing a narrative of “autonomy” that is supposed to give the universities and colleges greater freedom to decide their educational blueprints. In reality, the purpose of education as a social good rather than a profit-making venture, our need for spaces for assertion of our diverse identities and issues, our access to tools for critical thinking and learning— are all getting endangered.

Feature Image Credits: Scroll.in


Sara Sohail
[email protected]