Persuasion has always been a fundamental skill set in building corporate rapport. However, just as easily, the lines of persuasion can blur into exaggeration. Is the romanticised representation of your accomplishments ethical or is it a necessary aptitude to survive against corporate homogeneity?

All’s fair in love and war.

This famous proverb, attributed to John Lyly’s Eupheus, dubiously justifies our moral transgressions. In some sense, every one of us experiences a situation resembling a battleground. The perpetual stress and restlessness over the outcome? Check. The constant side glances towards your opponents and likewise updating your strategy and standing? Check. The continuum of sleepless nights and anticipated phone calls from anxious families desperately praying for pleasant news? Unfortunately, college does not spare us the opportunity of escaping from the wrath of war. The student force is compelled to practice the tactics of war in the context of their respective careers and aspirations.

Perhaps, there is no greater battleground in college than the society elections and placement season. The stealthy rivalry consumes every student, regardless of how desperately we wish to maintain symbiotic relations. The tedious application process and the proceeding interviews determine who will continue the legacy and the golden crown of a sparking CV. However, in such an academically rigorous space, the preliminary process that constitutes these selections is eliminative rather than selective. Therefore, a huge emphasis is placed on the interview rounds. A selective verbatim is already memorised by the students appearing for these interviews.

“I am an incredibly passionate and detail-oriented individual…”

“I am a good candidate for this position because…”

“I align myself to the vision of the company and I want to…”

The use of these saturated phrases is often used to project an overenthusiastic zeal for the position. Whether the students are genuinely passionate about the position or if it is just a persuasive mechanism to imitate the idea of interest is where the art of lying takes place. Do interviewers see through this fallacy? In the United States, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA) prohibits private employers from conducting lie detector tests. Unfortunately, such a law does not exist in the Indian constitution and let us hope interviewers remain blissfully ignorant of this provision.

The interviewers are also acquainted with this verbatim. They have also developed a skill set to truly extract students who have considerable respect and passion for the position. However, a wide grey area exists where the interviewers may genuinely not have enough understanding to filter out overtly convincing students.

However, the exaggerated interests expressed by the students can be sympathised with. The rat race is an intrinsic part of the culture that dominates interview season and any opportunity to distinguish yourself is far too precious to let go of. To an experienced eye, the repeated exaggerations may appear tedious but the desperation of the students to crack an interview is far too painful to ignore.

People do tend to stretch it a bit when they are interviewing for any position or organisation. The world is so competitive right now. You go on LinkedIn and you see people doing this and doing that and you think ‘What am I doing at this moment?’ So, you want that position at any cost and in order to achieve that, you just end up selling yourself in front of the interviewer. People also do end up lying about a lot of things. I remember this individual didn’t complete an internship and they said that they were a part of that organisation for a month or two, which I think is not ethical enough considering the fact that you need to get an internship certificate for completion. Quantity nowadays is much more valuable than quality. The more and more projects you have under your CV, the more and more chances are there for getting selected for a position

-recounting her experiences of interviewing students, Himasweeta Sarma, the ex-editor-in-chief of DU Beat said

Interviews are an unusual predicament for most students. In Gen Z’s flair of self-deprecating humour, suddenly the opportunity of presenting yourself as a desirable candidate is a humongous challenge. Striking the right balance between self-doubt and arrogance is an incredibly delicate skill set to master. However, in an environment competing with the best of the best, how do you even distinguish yourself and make a difference? Your CV only plays a minimal role in the interview process because various other candidates have credible accomplishments backing up their positions. This is exactly where the idea of presenting yourself as an ideal candidate comes forward. The interview process, in a sense, is a facade of the accomplishments you employed and they are only deemed to be valuable if you present them as so. Persuasion, or glorified manipulation in certain cases, is truly an art form that needs to be mastered to dictate your success. However, in the process of persuasion, the boundaries of accuracy are blurred. Your accomplishments are heavily overestimated in the process, conveying a false sense of capability.

In our college, there is a formula most seniors preach. ‘It doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience or expertise or if you think someone deserves this more than you. Tell us why you are the superior candidate and the position is yours,’

Bhavya Nayak, a first-year student from SRCC observed.

On the flip side, the success of your accomplishments may sometimes need to be compromised. Specifically for college societies, interviewers place extremely stringent conditions that are often extremely demanding and strenuous for the candidates. Students often need to underestimate their accomplishments or blatantly disregard their leadership positions during interviews in order to falsely exhibit a commitment towards the position.

In a sense, the interview process may seem futile since the outcome is so heavily influenced by factors beyond our control. It may also raise the question of the validity of such a demanding process. Can you really determine if a candidate is capable of performing the job through a 10-minute, carefully fabricated process? However, an even greater question needs to be addressed. Does it even matter who gets the position if the work is getting done?

The quality of the recruitment process greatly determines how societies will function for the upcoming tenure. In this regard, there are greater implications that arise in terms of how the interviews are carried out. Oftentimes, there exists a wide gap between the expectations held by seniors and the actual result delivered by the newly recruited students.

Especially in societies like the Entrepreneurship Cell and the Placement Cell, they have a big recruitment process with several steps so they try to sift as much as possible. But even through that, something that depends upon college to college, crowd to crowd is that they have a mindset that they need to get more people on board than the quality of the people they are hiring. Because of this reason, the quality of work received by the placement cell, especially in my department, social media content writing, was not up to the mark,”

remarked Aayat Farooqui, a second-year student from Deshbandu College.

On the moral high ground, there are ethical considerations that need to be understood. The recruitment process is often incredibly taxing to both the student and the interviewer. Interviewers have no definite way of knowing the intentions of the interviewers. A student may appear to be enthusiastic about the position because of the spark it lends to their CV. However, the responsibility that comes with these positions are incredibly demanding and students are expected to fulfil their responsibilities in promised ways. If a student is apathetic towards the work, it derails the morale of the workplace and leads to dissatisfaction.

As Benjamin Franklin once famously stated, “Would you persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” The romanticisation of interviews is inherently connected to this notion of persuasion. In a sense, the art of exaggerating is a requisite in surviving today’s competitiveness. However, the illusion of passion should not later become a liability to the ethos of the organisation. The balance needs to be struck. So while you’re nervously shaking for your next interview, just remember to be proud of your accomplishments and grateful for this opportunity, regardless of the outcome.


Image Credits: Sakshi Education

Sri Sidhvi Dindi

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On 1st April 2023, DU Beat spoke with Dr. Abha Dev Habib, an Assistant Professor of Physics at Miranda House and a women’s movement activist, to discuss the condemnable incidents that took place in Indraprastha College for Women on 28th and 29th March 2023, during their Annual Fest ‘Shruti’, where some men scaled the walls of the college and harassed women inside the college premises. 


Question: Thank you so much ma’am for joining us. So I would like to begin by asking your views or how you see the recent developments that unfolded in Indraprastha College for Women. 


Dr. Habib: Thank you. Yes, I find it very unfortunate. One, of course, the whole assault where male students and other students are trying to barge in, and then there was that was one incident that also happened in Miranda in October 2022, during the Diwali Mela. But what I find most unfortunate today is that when the students are protesting and women students are protesting, they feel that their space has been occupied, that they were molested, and that the administration and the police have not taken enough steps. Instead of extending support, instead of allowing that protest to happen, allowing that outrage to happen, the administration of the college and the police is diverting their energy in trying to stop this protest, in harassing women, students, young women, and they’re being told that the college will inform their parents and that they cannot protest like this. The police have been continuously detaining the protesters. I find that extremely objectionable because if women are not even allowed to protest against this violence, then I do not know. I think in some sense the administration and the police have sided with those who have molested people, who have outraged the whole thing. I mean, the people have been molested, and the administration is siding with them and is standing against the decent. 


Question: So, as you mentioned there is apathy on part of the administration. We have seen an irony in the deployment of police forces when it comes to detaining people and a meager deployment or almost no deployment of forces when it comes to providing protection to the people. So how do you see this trend? 


Dr. Habib: This trend is very disturbing. And one thing is the short-sightedness of the administration in saying that there will not be too many people wanting to come into the college. These fests are happening after a gap of two years COVID period when they were not happening at all. And there is hyperactivity in all colleges. All societies want to function, all societies want to have fests. And when the college is throwing open its gate to all, there will be sort of a huge rush. So there may be a short-sightedness or miscalculation on part of the administration and trying to get the police on time or to have arrangements on time. Now, however, what is happening after students protested is that they were molested and the police were called to detain them. I find that unacceptable and unfortunate and this should not have happened. This cannot happen. While you can pardon the administration for the first part, of course, we make mistakes and there was a miscalculation, I cannot pardon the administration for the second. What these protests are doing, apart from letting focus on the way the space was occupied and creating an awareness of gender sensitization, these protests are actually calling out to all student community to say that women’s colleges cannot be closed down just because the society is such that women will be molested or something. You cannot force women to stay back home. You cannot close down doors on them and allow everybody to have a good day outside. And what we are saying is that if we have too many police or we start making these festivals as closed festivals, that is not an answer. The answer lies in gender sensitization. It lies in the awareness of the people. And these protests are actually a call for that order. They are calling out to people to have that sensitivity. And the unfortunate part is that the administration is seeing these protests as against them. It is seeing these protests as something against the college and is detaining students. So this is not something that is acceptable or which can be forgiven. 


Question: So ma’am, we have seen this phenomenon is not new and such instances have happened in Miranda House and previously in Gargi also. So why do you think such colleges, and women’s colleges in particular, are targeted by such violence? And how safe are these places for women when we compare them to the other co-ed colleges? Because it’s a common perception that women’s colleges are comparatively safer.


Dr. Habib: Yeah, I will start the other way around. These colleges have served the nation. These are very safe places where women really discover themselves. Many feel empowered, they move forward. And Miranda House, IPCW, LSR, Kamla Nehru, Gargi, all these colleges have contributed immensely. If we look at Miranda House, the number of women scientists it contributes is immense. It is only in recent times that these situations of outrage have occurred. I was at Miranda House first as an Ad-hoc teacher from 2001-05, and then as a permanent. So in 23 years of service, it was only during the Diwali Mela of 2022 that I found this kind of masculine behaviour and entering the college and disturbing the classes. They came and then also tried to occupy as if they were trying to occupy Miranda. That I had never seen earlier. Yes, I had seen crowds during fests when we call some big singer or a star to the college. Yes, people want to come in and they want to enjoy. And there are cases of molestation and all even then, but that is not limited to women colleges. It will happen anywhere. And in Miranda House, in IPCW, the fact that women are outraged, feeling outraged, that they’re on the streets, is because of their awareness. And in fact, that also in some sense, gives you an idea of how empowered women feel in these colleges, and therefore they are voicing it in the form of protest. So I see women’s colleges as very, very safe places. 


Yes, but I want to say that what is happening in colleges today has to be seen as a larger thing, where we find masculine behaviour on the rise, where we find a mob mentality on the rise, where we find the whole questioning yourself, what is your domain, what is somebody’s else domain? And do you have the right to do this? We are losing those questions. There is in some sense a return to these issues, gender and all. Yes, they are in the curriculum, we have gender studies and all of that. But are we in our daily lives practicing them? An unfortunate part is that the central government and the governments are failing. In Bilkis Banu’s case, eleven rapists will be freed. Is that the message? So far as a woman activist, I find that to be a problematic thing. In Katwa, when an eight-year-old Muslim girl is molested and raped and it was so gruesome we couldn’t even read through the newspaper, we see that the whole case is given a Hindu-Muslim angle and there is a protest by the Hindu right-wingers there. And this has to be isolated from every Hindu. I’m not talking about every Hindu. The same thing has happened in Bilkis Banu. So there is this thing of that mob. In a mob, nobody gets caught, and nobody gets punished. And this is what we have experienced in last so many cases, whether it was about women, whether it was about murders. And I think that is a problem. It is because of how the government sees finally. 


There are all kinds of tendencies in society, but it is because of the fear of law and order that most people work in a particular manner. That fear has to remain. If the justice delivery system, if all of that collapses, then this mob will be on the rise and today you are seeing that in women’s colleges; this is true in all-women colleges. Because see, I mean education, if you look at the Constitution, the forefathers saw education as the only possible way of transforming society. And therefore education was treated as a public good. Women colleges are questioning the social order, they are breaking free of the conditioning and creating something new. Sometimes societies feel very endangered about it. And right now the right-wing Hindutva element is finding it difficult to digest centres like JNU, which have brought social transformation, which talks about equity and has given space to students coming from marginalized sections. So you will see a systematic attack on JNU. In DU also, women’s institutions are seen as left, whereas they are not just left, they are questioning and they are creating a new order, which actually is the task of the education sector. And therefore also I think that there is an additional attack. 


The attack on Gargi and what all happened there, again reading newspapers, it was very difficult to visualize that people were raising such slogans or doing something like this or masturbating and so on and so forth, or at Miranda House and now in IPCW. And therefore I feel that the protests which are going on right now by the women students, these protests are very important because if women will not protest this, then the only order which can prevail and which will help the right-wing forces is to shut down women in their houses. And this is not acceptable to us. For example, the whole movement of Pinjira Tod was a very important movement. It questioned the timings of women’s hostels vis-a-vis giving the same arguments of security and all. Whereas we have experienced that the spaces will become safer and safer if women will inhabit that, if women will be out on the street till late. But women will be there when the lighting will be proper and so on and so forth. So I think we have to look at these incidents in the context of what is happening in the country today. 


Question: As you said there is a need to create awareness and all. So, with the advent of the New Education Policy, there has been an introduction of subjects like value addition courses (VAC) and skill enhancement courses (SEC) and all of that. But we see there is a conscious exclusion of gender sensitivity or even sex education in these courses. So how important do you think are these courses in light of what is happening currently in IPCW? 

Dr. Habib: I hope many first-year students will get to hear this interview. I see SEC, VAC as very, very diluted courses and which have neither added to the skill of the students nor added value. I do not know what value you can gain in class and also the courses started only midway. The whole idea or the advertisement of skill enhancement courses is that they will add to the skills which are marketable. So, therefore, I do not know whether these are the proper places for gender studies. But gender studies is a very important part of humanities and social science courses. And I think in depth there are many topics which give space for discussions like this in literature also. But there should be a continuous discussion. Of course, there could have been a paper on gender issues in value-added courses. What I’m saying is that, yes, there are many places where we can study them, and debate them. And you know that each college has a Women Development Cell (WDC) which also organizes a large number of seminars and conferences where they call people to deliberate on important issues. It is not only that when we sit in the seminars or what we study in our course transforms us–that is, of course, a very, very important part which transforms–but how the machinery of the country is functioning, that becomes a very important thing. Because finally, you have to understand that, what is the number of people coming to universities. It is still hovering around 25% of the Gross Enrollment Ratio. So how many are reaching the universities? How many are reaching higher education? One has to understand that, to understand the transformation which the universities alone can bring. They are very important centres but it is also in the way the government will conduct itself. If the government will conduct itself, the justice delivery system will do okay. The learning is also in all of that. So I think it is the whole system which we have to see. And yes, more courses can be added. I agree with its addition in value addition courses. But I don’t see that as the only way forward. 


Question: So, before we end this, is there anything else that you would like to tell us about the whole situation?

Dr. Habib: No, I just want to, through this interview, express my solidarity with the protesting students. In fact, WDC units of all colleges should come together to think about how to roll out gender-sensitizing programmes across the university. Not only students but teachers and karam-charis and administration will have to respond to this crisis. Because this is not going to be with just women colleges. It will spread to all. And even in co-ed colleges, I do not see that this will not happen there. Either you open your gates, don’t try to close them, and let everybody come in. Are we ready to have 20,000? And can we prevent things like stampedes or any other tragedy which may just happen anywhere? So I think we all need to put together our minds on how to take gender-sensitizing within the campus and outside. I think the WDC of all the colleges should come together to have outreach programmes on this also. But my absolute solidarity with the protesting young women and I think it is for us to protest. The solution does not lie in closing down the gates of women’s colleges or having all programs only limited to the population inside. The whole idea is to bring a social transformation so that these gates can remain open, and that women can walk on the streets fearlessly. And in this, I think the government needs to hear what people are saying. And the government needs to be more sensitive. If rapists will walk free, there is no way of preventing all of this.

Read Also: Interview with Dr. Maya John

Interview by Samra Iqbal

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In light of the recent condemnable events surrounding IPCW college, DU Beat’s print editor, Anwesh Banerjee, spoke to Dr. Maya John, a professor of Jesus and Mary College and an alma mater of Delhi University about the need for women to reclaim spaces within college campuses and the collective efforts necessary to shape university spaces into more safe, equitable and democratic ones.


Anwesh: We have with us Dr. Maya John, assistant professor of history at Jesus and Mary College. She was also the first female president of St. Stephens College student union during her tenure there as a student from 2003-2006. We are here to discuss the issues that have been transpiring lately at the IPCW campus, but before we jump into that, we know that you have played a seminal role in the history of fighting for spaces for women. It’s been almost twenty years since you fought that fight, stood on your claims, and twenty years later, as a professor in the same university space, how do you react to the current situation?

Dr. John: Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share my insights and also sum up the disappointment that stems from the experiences that are repeating themselves in a space like Delhi University. In response to your question, I would say that, of course, the Delhi University campuses have proven to be very unsafe spaces for women students, karamcharis and teachers. The reality is that, it’s not just an unsafe space in terms sexual harassment being a pervasive problem, but it’s also a space that is highly unequal, therefore it’s a very contentious space. One’s own experience, as you trace it back to my student days – twenty years back, this was precisely the nature of the university. It was this prestigious space that was admitting women students, researchers, and teachers; but remained a space wherein structural inequality was embedded. Premier colleges like Stephens, Hindu, etc. in the early 2000s did not have adequate residential facilities for women students. Most who came from outside Delhi struggled in off-campus accommodations, and the women out-station students were often victims of sexual harassment at the hands of landlords, experienced rampant street harassment when commuting, etc. Women students were pushed out of campuses after 4 or 5 in the evening, leading to restricted involvement of women in co-curriculars and other contributions.

We fought this battle for equality in the university space, equality in something so fundamental as residential accommodations. So back in the 2000s we launched a campaign for more women’s hostels and safe neighborhoods. In present times it has taken newer forms, because it still remains an unaddressed issue. Even though the University of Delhi and colleges within have opened up hostels over the last decade, there aren’t enough, plus they are too expensive, especially the new hostels. It is worrying to see how their admin functions in a very ‘disciplinarian’ undemocratic way, instituting rules that don’t reflect the times, the demands and needs of the students. Thirdly, to demonstrate the existence of a systemic gender bias, everytime we have festivals like Holi being celebrated on campus, it’s always women staying in hostels that are held hostage – women can’t step out, are locked in, while men staying in hostels, especially post graduate ones take out these filthy rallies outside women’s hostels for hours. Most of the time these practices are within the knowledge of the proctor’s office of DU, yet no actions are taken to stop these activities. When I was staying in a post-grad women’s hostel, we were writing representations one week before Holi regarding not wanting to be held hostage and we demanded a stoppage on the rallies by male students – to no effect. The university authorities brushed it aside claiming it to be a tradition and saying they would be accompanied by police. That was even more ridiculous, to have police accompany a rally of men who are drunk and are taking over the street and making public movement difficult. This is the kind of tradition one has seen. I would also connect a lot of what we are seeing in IP college – the incident on 28th March and the subsequent crackdown on students who are asking for accountability, raising a question for why did such a security lapse happen, and I just want to explain this event in terms of a longer history of a lot of institutional apathy, tolerance for sexual harassment, and complicity of institutions in this culture of sexual harassment.

Interestingly, IP College, around 2008 was besieged by a similar incident of women students of the college being attacked by groups of men, being groped and molested. This incident was at the hands of men who had come to appear in neighboring government schools for the Delhi Police constabulary exam. Not only were the IP women a large number of victims that day. Since men had appeared for the exam across different areas, there must have been in different parts of the city similar horrible experiences for women who were molested by mobs of men who couldn’t of course be easily identified. IP college of course saw a huge protest. The then vice chancellor was questioned in terms of why his team did not know that an exam of this sort would be happening in many areas in the campus, why was there no increase in security, why the DU admin was not registering a formal complaint, etc. Questions were also asked of the police and higher authorities as to why was the police not willing to cancel the exam? These men were to become policemen themselves and how could the authorities let them get away. It was very important to send out a public message by cancelling the exam because of the way the candidates behaved. Look at the extent of institutional apathy, there was a crackdown by the principal back then asking students not to protest and the Delhi police never agreed to cancel the exam. The issue went right up to the home ministry of the Government of India. That’s the level to which sexual harassment in these institutions is brushed under the carpet and normalized. It becomes the mainstream narrative that – victims are exaggerating it, it wasn’t that bad. Even right now in IP, the college administration is asking for a proof and is denying that mass sexual harassment actually happened, whereas students actually have so much to share on what exactly went down that night.  Because of this larger institutional apathy that goes right up to the top brass, it’s not surprising that the university and the local police stations continue to turn a blind eye to these experiences, and make them seem as if they are never that big in scale, and that incidents are actually being exaggerated by women who have lost their minds.

The second thing I wanted to bring in today in terms of experiences under institutional apathy which breeds a lot of sexism and unhealthy culture through inequality of access. Let us turn to how Delhi University treats scores of women students who are so vulnerable; i.e., the women students who come for a few handful classes on Sundays and gazetted holidays under the School of Open Learning (SOL) of Delhi University. The way these women are treated is ridiculous. Everyone from officials to guards at SOL treat these women as if they shouldn’t be there on campus, treat them like dirt. It’s also about how university spaces are considered as somebody’s “Raj”, some people treat it as if it’s their private property and not a public space that needs to be shared, that needs to be safe, and that needs to be egalitarian. The way these women of SOL are treated like cattle, shoved into classrooms – 200/300 of them in one class, then shoved out of campuses after their few annual classes. This is supported by high-handed measures like notices being put up in SOL centres about how women shouldn’t comb their hair, and take selfies in corridors on campus. These institutional actions perpetuate the ideas of the patriarchal gaze, and can actually translate so easily int someone misbehaving with these women, especially because they are treated as if they don’t belong here in DU.

DU very often has not made itself a safe space, egalitarian space for so many people, including women. The problem is going to keep coming up, there is always going to be an effort to deny it, brush it under the carpet. That is why students, women’s activists have to protest. It is ridiculous to see the way Delhi police is being mobilized to crush democratic students’ protests so easily. But where are they, and why are they not mobilized as a preemptive measure to situations like these in college fests. So obviously, this is a very selective use of policing and it reflects more on the insensitivity of institutions and administrators. Therefore it’s something we need to keep fighting.

Anwesh: I am so glad you brought up the 2008 incident, that’s a part of the research I have been reading up on, because this was not an isolated event. Just last year we had the horrific incident at Miranda house, and that wasn’t a lesson enough. You were talking about the police force and there was this picture a photojournalist from our team took at arts faculty the day the protest was. It felt as if we were in some sort of a riot looking at the amount of security personnel deployed in the arts faculty.  People could not move, there was a traffic jam. This also brings me to the idea of institutional apathy that was so beautifully elaborated upon.

Right now, Shambhavi who is a student from IPCW is under a show cause notice, since they were one of the most vocal students when it came to asking for accountability. That also brings to light this history that exists in this public university which is supposed to stand for the liberal arts and everything that’s democratic and egalitarian. Whenever you ask for this accountability there’s a certain kind of repression and suppression that happens as far as your voice is concerned. There are two students that have currently been suspended from giving examinations because of their attempt to screen the BBC documentary, Shambhavi is under a show cause notice. It’s also very interesting that this event happened 5 years ago as well, after the 2017 incident at Ramjas where the lives of so many students and professors went into danger because of their attempt to claim their academic space and the right to have an academic discussion. From what I know, you were also denied admission in a Masters programme at St Stephens, which is why you had to go to Miranda House to pursue your degree. As someone who has also undergone this fight, how do you deal with this even after so many years and how do students make sense of asking for their basic rights, or seek accountability and also for students around them who come from faraway places to this university to fight for their basic rights? They don’t find it in themselves to ask these questions because this is the kind of repression you are met with when you ask these questions. So how do you reconcile this entire situation with this kind of fear?

Dr. John: See, being an activist right from my student days, I have learnt it the hard way. One way is that you tackle people’s hesitation and you also tackle the concrete victimization through of course being very strategic in the way you plan the next level of your agitation. It is crucial to take as many students and participants along so you don’t get isolated. Next, it also means tapping networks, preparing the struggle in a way in which you are also putting pressure on the authorities from multiple dimensions. If the students of one particular institution are pitched against their administration, that’s not enough. The college admin needs to be made to feel pressurized from other areas. It would be interesting in this case to see how other groups – student groups, women’s organisations, women’s activists, alumni – how they get galvanized and put pressure on not just the concerned college administration in the centre of the storm, but generally even on everyone else who is accountable for an untoward incident. Everyone from DU’s big wigs, to the college principal, to the Delhi Commission for Women, to the Delhi Police needs to be held accountable and asked as to why was this incident allowed to happen. Putting pressure from different forces and dimensions becomes important.

Secondly, you have to fight, because if you don’t fight, you don’t get anything. If you stand up, you keep the collective mobilization going, you’d be able to challenge the apathy and change the general ambience that people in the administration work with, i.e., the yeh toh chalta hai approach. So, as long as you fight back and you keep that going, and you connect and build the next phase of the movement in a strategic way, you do push for accountability. Whoever’s in powerful offices feels the pressure. Am sure the principal is currently having her own share of sleepless nights. My point is, we have to remember that it’s the continuous efforts that end in important change. If you don’t fight, nothing will change. If you fight, bring people together, then of course it is one important step in democratizing the way universities function. Because remember it is still a university space, it cannot get as hostile as a workplace or the world outside. So if you can bring them to their knees, which is a relatively more cushioned space – the university, then it’s an important battle the women students are winning.

Anwesh: Absolutely. There were two final questions I wanted to conclude the discussion with. The first being, because you are also a professor of history I wanted to ask, whenever these debates about university spaces come in there is also a lot of literature and writing that is produced in terms of how DU, especially the north campus is constructed as a space. It’s not a closed campus, like you have in private universities. There are students literally staying in very residential parts of Vijay Nagar or Kamala Nagar. Then in the centre of these spaces, you have these spread out college campuses. Almost 80% students don’t have access to the hostel spaces, only the top scorers can avail these. Others have to resort to taking flats or pgs in nearby areas, which has turned the entire accommodation business into such a thriving one, who exploit these students. I myself have so many female friends and gender minority friends who have been sexually harassed and assaulted by landlords, and have been in very vulnerable positions. They are staying far away from their families, who they can’t even inform about these situations. Do you think this sort of architectural structuring of the university space also plays into this narrative for the space not being safe enough for the university students? If yes, then is there any solution to finding a way around this?

Dr. John: One major change that is needed is for the university to create more of its own accommodation. When I say the university needs to provide for as many needy and outstation students, it also has to be an affordable accommodation. As I had mentioned a few minutes back, even the hostels made over last 10-12 years are very expensive and the facilities provided are very questionable. I believe all of us know about the Rajiv Gandhi undergraduate women’s hostel and all problems there which triggered protests by the women residents. So, it’s an important struggle that pushes the university to provide for safe and affordable accommodation with proper facilities. I feel that making Delhi University a closed campus is something we will not be able to immediately achieve, and even if it became a closed campus, it doesn’t guarantee that within DU classrooms, within college buildings, lawns, etc. sexual harassment won’t happen and that the incidents will not be continuously brushed under the carpet. Let’s face it, a closed campus is not such an important solution. What is important is that we equalize the space. It means we provide residential accommodation, more of it, so that students, especially women are not left in these vulnerable conditions and paying through their nose just to be able to come and study here.

Anwesh: Ya, the beauty of the university is that it is such an open campus. That is why when I read such arguments it really annoys me so much because that is the beauty of this campus. Okay, just the last question before we end this interview. Like you said, there are so many authorities and institutions, whenever such incidents happen, women and gender minorities are asked to prove and this entire culture of “yeh toh chalta hai” and probably “aap toh zaada bol rahe ho”, it’s something not to be worried about. This entire culture has placed women and other minorities at this position wherein they have to prove their oppression. Yesterday, I was out a little late in the night and I was coming back, I saw the North Campus claim the night march – something that has been going on for a while now and so what do you think is the role of these groups like Dastak, which are coming together, motivating women to go out and spend entire night reading, talking to each other, walking the campus and claiming the night. What other ways are there to show that these stories are real stories and the institutions need to believe us when we say this has happened to us, this violence is real, which we face on a daily basis?

Dr. John:  These are interesting and important initiatives, these marches etc. But as I said, a lot of bad experiences of sexual harassment and being denied democratic access to university spaces don’t happen necessarily only in the night. Our fighting for safer, more democratic spaces in DU requires us to build many other kinds of struggles, movements and initiatives. I would suggest addressing one important cause such as the state of lakhs of women students languishing like second class citizens in DU SOL. Fighting that battle, getting them more classes and access to the university facilities, and basically getting so many more women on campus would make a big difference to the nature of the campus. I definitely think there are many structural things that need to change which will make the university space truly more inclusive and truly more sensitive. Of course, while night marches and awareness building are important, it’s also about how democratized is the space in the morning hours, how many more women have quality access to the university and thirdly the way our hostel facilities function – their in-timing and out-timing need to be rationalized. The culture of locking up women at 9 is really not the solution because again having lonely roads outside campus after 9 is not something that helps or makes the space necessarily safe. So even the way in which existing university rules function, when a woman can enter or leave hostel are all initiatives that we need to fight for.

Anwesh: Thank you so much ma’am. Thank you so much for raising the issue of the SOL as well, because that is something we don’t really talk a lot about in the mainstream as much as we do about other issues, and it’s not as burning an issue as claiming spaces and seeking visibility is. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview on such a short notice. We genuinely hope that people do realize that the IPCW struggle is not an isolated struggle; it’s a part of a larger history of fighting for and reclaiming spaces in this University.

Abha Dev Habib (treasurer of DUTA), in conversation with DU Beat, sheds light on the impasse between the Delhi government, and the DU administration and teachers, requesting the students to stand in solidarity with the teachers of Delhi University and gauge what has been happening on this front.

On 9th March, DUTA called for a complete DU shutdown, requesting teachers across its 70+ colleges to go on strike. Ms Abha, in this interview, goes on to elaborate on the .. of the issue.

Can you brief us about all the major developments, action steps and a timeline of all the events until now?

The whole standoff between the Delhi government and the University of Delhi started in 2019. And there was a very ugly tussle between the University of Delhi and Delhi Government over Governing Body formation: the formation of Governing Bodies was delayed, and also, who will become the chairperson kind of situation. And this standoff resulted in the stopping of grants-in-aid by the Delhi government to these colleges. 

There are 28 colleges out of which 12 are hundred per cent funded by the Delhi government. The centre gives money to the Delhi government so that the government can forward it to these colleges. So a hundred per cent in that sense, the money comes from the Delhi government. Now, they stopped the salaries of the employees and ever since then, the tussle began. DUTA would intervene and would hold protests, and only then there was a release of salary.

It is extremely unfortunate that through the pandemic, the Delhi government maintained this style of functioning where they would withhold the grants-in-aid. Employees today include a large number of non-teaching staff working on a contract basis, and ad-hoc teachers, thus making it impossible for them to sustain themselves in an expensive city like Delhi. A lot of state universities have already been destroyed by this kind of attitude of the government that salaries are not released on time, and therefore, nobody wants to work in such units.

DUTA wrote to the government, enlisting all these concerns, and even held physical protests during the pandemic, but the government did not melt. Grants should be released so that salaries come on time which then, in turn, helps the teachers and employees to perform to the best of their abilities. Now, I mean, with a lot of restraint due time, these teachers function because we did not call for a strike through the pandemic: teachers were involved in admissions, and OBE examinations; teachers continued to teach despite the fact that they had not got salaries, and they also had to go to court for release of salaries. It was only in November that the salaries were finally released Saturdays and in November, that is released only because the court instructed the ligament to do so, or, uh, November Quebec, uh, uh, there was a, such a short one is, or the inordinate delays in grant. 

Devika Malik who was recently featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs List, talks candidly with Kriti Gupta, correspondent at DU Beat, about her life struggles, her strategy behind success, business acumen, bravery and much more. Read on to know more.

Kriti: How do you feel Devika, having made to the under 30 social entrepreneurs list of Forbes, was that something you always sort of expected, when you started?

Devika: I feel great, it feels absolutely amazing to be a part of ‘Forbes’ and especially in the Social Entrepreneurs category. It wasn’t something I expected when I started but, fortunately there is a continuous series of recognitions since, the beginning. In 2015 I was awarded with ‘The Queen’s Young Leader Award’, which was presented at the ‘Bunkhingam Palace’. These sort of recognitions and honours helped in increasing the reach of our organisation and contributed in raising support and funds for our cause.  But, in the last one and two years I did think about ‘Forbes’ under 30 category and, luckily one of my mentors from United Kingdom along with one of the young leaders whom I worked with, during the Commonwealth nominated me for the same. Then, in January I received an email informing me that I was one of the semi-finalists but, being afraid about the uncertainity of making it to the final list I didn’t inform anyone about it. Then, when the final list, having my name was released in April it was then people got to know.

Kriti: How much do you believe in the power of youth? Is, being surrounded by a community of young people positive or negative for a social entrepreneur like you?

Devika: I very strongly believe in the power resident in the leadership of the younger generation. In fact, we have recently launched a network called ‘Commonwealth Youth and Children Disability Network’, which aims to connect all the organisations and youth lead intiatives, for the disable communities. The strong passion and commitment of the youth to make a positive difference in the community is really inspiring. Often, people talk about the millennials of being lazy and entitled but, my experience has been completely opposite to this, it has shown me how strongly willed and determined the youth is to help and make a change for the better.

Kriti: You are the co-founder of Wheeling happiness, which is a community promoting disability sports, inclusion, fundraising for women and for the aid of people going through physical and mental sufferings. So, what was that primary thing or idea which drove you to take out time from your routine of an athlete and invest in the organisation?

Devika: I have myself grown up with a disability. I was very young when I got into an accident and encountered Hemiplegia, affecting the entire left side of my body. My mother too has Paralysis which makes her entire body under the chest non-functional, and she has been in this condition for 21 years now. So, being a constant care giver to my mother and a having a personal experience of the disability community, many people going through similar conditions came to seek support and assistance from us. So, all the counselling sessions and support activities which we were doing at an individual level made us to come up with the idea of ‘Wheeling Happiness’, to help a larger group of similar people. Our goal is to not to tell what a disabled person can or can’t but, to support them with whatever goals they originally have.

Kriti: Who is that one person whom you can call as your biggest inspiration or support in your journey with ‘Wheeling Happiness’?

Devika: One year before beginning with ‘Wheeling Happiness’ I completed my masters in organisational behaviour from Delhi University, got a campus placement in a training development and consultancy firm and was simultaneously continuing with my athletics career. Amidst all this, when I told my mother about my ambition of becoming a social entrepreneur, she was very supportive and understanding of my emotions. She had a strong belief on our expertise to help and guide people especially in the rural and economically undeserved areas. Usually parents are sceptical of their children pursuing their careers in social entrepreneurship especially over the corporate industry, but my mother unlike the commons was 100% supportive of my idea. So, for me that one person whom I can call as my biggest inspiration and support will de definitely my mother.

Kriti: You were born with Hemiplegia, which is a condition causing paralysis to one side of the body. So, during that time was there a feeling of hopelessness or an emotion of being just a baggage to your parents? If yes, how did you cope up with it and what kept you going?

Devika: I was born in 1990 and my mother got paralysed in 1999 so, before that she was completely normal and made sure I attend all my physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions. She took care that I don’t shy away from my disability and actively participate in sports and public speaking activities. When I was younger it was much more physically visible then its now, so she made sure that I was not bothered by the stares and remarks of people. Then later when she got paralysed we together took care of her disability sessions, after which she started with her sports career in 2006, she used to take me with her to practises and matches, that’s when I realised that even I can be a part of it. I never exactly felt a burden to my family but, there was always a conscious effort which I made to excel, as I was fully aware that my family is very fitness conscious and did everything with the utmost perfection, especially my mother who made national and international records in whatever she pursued. So, I always tried to give my 100%.

Kriti: You are also a psychological counsellor and have yourself been a victim of bullying in the past so, what all do you advise to the students who are being bullied or emotionally harassed for their physical features or other characteristic traits? 

Devika: I feel it has two aspects related to it, its just not about the student going through it, it is also about sensitising people at large that it not the right way to treat fellow humans, who look or behave different from you. I conduct various workshops and visit many schools and colleges where we teach students on how to be more inclusive in their mind sets and environment. However, the one thing which my personal experience taught me and is very important is self-acceptance. The moment you fall in love with yourself and start appreciating your work, it becomes very difficult for the people to look down upon you. When I was six or seven years old and my fellow students made fun of my disability, my parents told me to not to feel dejected about it but rather laugh along, as they thinking of making fun on your expanse will get confused from your reaction. So, taking that advise I always instead of feeling emotionally broken tried to explain to my peers that yes, I have a disability but apart from that there is lots more about me. Having a confidence and assurance about self is what makes the hierarchy of the bullies weaker.

Kriti: As we all know your mother is Rio Paralympic silver medallist and is also the current president of the Paralympic committee in India so, was it her influence that made you choose para athletes in the beginning or, was it solely your choice?

Devika: My mother never directly told me to come forward and participate in para athletes. It was me who decided that I wanted to competitively participate in sports, though seeing her perform inspired me and helped me to make up my mind for sports. It was after complete four years of her time in the field of sports that I decided to take a part as well. My frequent visits to her practise sessions and competitions made me realise that this is something even I can do. So, it was her influence that introduced me to the world of para athletics or disability sports but, I never faced any pressure or compulsion from her to be a part of it.

Kriti: You have represented India in the 100m and 200m sprints in T37 category. You have won eight national and and three international medals at World Para Athletics Grand Prix competition. So, Do you think having a mother from a sports background made you have an edge over the other players competing with you?

Devika: I don’t think so, there are many players and athletes who perform much better than me. What helped was having a sports and fitness culture in my house and that too I don’t feel provided me an edge over other players but, contributed in putting me in that mind set of sportsmanship. Just like any other player I felt pressurised when I performed in my first international event but, having a mother who herself is inclined towards the same field helped me a lot to deal and compete with it.

Kriti: As you have told in one of your previous interviews that you have been volunteering for the economically undeserved communities since the age of 12, and you are also an alumnus of Delhi university. So, is there any way you think your college or being a part of Delhi University helped you in your growth as a person or in providing a boost to your career?

Devika: Yes, it did contribute in a certain way, if I would not have been part of DU I would not have received the opportunity to work with the really wonderful training and consultancy firm, where I started working in after my masters. Being a part of the company gave me an exposure to design workshops and seminars, which later helped me in my own endeavour. Apart, from that Delhi university along the theoretical knowledge also provides you with very good transferable skills. Its culture of clubs, societies and volunteering among the students, especially the equal opportunity cell, I could see students volunteering as scribes for visually challenged students, all this did help in my growth and development. Another thing which is personally very valuable to me, during my time was the subject Indian psychology, taught by Mr. Sandeep Verma. The subject focused on the psychological prospective of Indian scriptures and ancient Indian writings on human psychology, doing a semester of that really made human psychology something spiritual for me and gave me beyond textbook experience, which I am really grateful about.

Kriti: Awards usually come along with responsibilities, and you have received several such honours including Queens young leader award. So, after such recognitions how did you deal with the expanded expectations from you? And was there an addition to you roles or work load after receiving the honour.

Devika: Absolutely, it does. After being awarded with the Queen’s Young Leader Award, three years later in 2018 I was invited back in Bukhingam Palace, to deliver a speech at the commonwealth heads of government meeting. The meeting hosted the entire royal family, the presidents and prime ministers of all the 54 commonwealth countries, including my own, the entire political spectrum of UK, and I was asked to speak for two and a half minutes about my work. Which I think was a big responsibility, I received because of the Queens Young Leader Award. As your name or your company’s name get associated with certain recognitions and awards it starts holding certain accountability, and it becomes even more important for it to have a specific integrity. After awards I will apart from the work am presenting the background paper work and maintenance of records become equally important.

Kriti: Being an entrepreneur yourself tell us about your thoughts on the impact of Corona virus on the global economy and will that have any long term results in the future?

Devika: It will definitely have long term impacts, especially for those who belong to the non-essential sectors, they will have to re strategize and come up with the plan to pick them up from their boot straps and maintain their relevance in post COVID world. When such a pandemic hits it definitely takes time for the world economy to revive, that will cause difficulty to start ups as well as properly established industries. But since, am in the non profit sector my concern is more around corporate performances, as we receive a large chunk of our funding from the corporate  groups, as their social responsibility aspect. My agenda is to use that money to aid the economically undeserved in post COVID situations as they would be those among the hardest hit. My concern would be on the leverage of this social  corporate responsibility and help the economically deprived sector. Many organisations including our have targeted certain areas, where we feed around 150 people on a daily basis. One of the key thing everyone should follow in the world after the pandemic is patience, one must not expect to bounce back where they were earlier in a period of three months, they should be understanding of the fact that it will take time.

Kriti: What is the message you would like to share with the world during these difficult times of quarantine and lock down.

Devika: I would like to share primarily two things, one to abide by all the protocols and preventive measures  as its for everyone’ health and safety, and second to identify what keeps you in good spirits. These are difficult times, as we are locked indoors, lost connections, so maintenance of a positive and healthy mind set is very important. For some taking longer naps than usual, or following a very strict routine, helps them feel better so, figuring out the activity which helps in keeping a good mental health is something I feel everyone should do. For me personally, when the lock down began I was extremely uneasy in the first couple of days, hearing the news about the migrant and daily wage labourers made me feel really uncomfortable, so thinking about a way to help them was necessary for my mental health. Similarly everyone should find their healthy activity and stay fit both physically as well as mentally.

Featured Image Credits: Devika Malik

Interviewed and Transcribed by Kriti Gupta for DU beat

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Interviews for the post of Principal for Swami Shraddhanand College stand cancelled as Deputy Chief Minister states violation of norms as the reason.

On Friday, 28th February 2020, interviews scheduled on 1st March 2020 for the post of Principal, Swami Shraddhanand College were cancelled.

The cancellation is stated to be directed by Deputy Chief Minister, Mr. Manish Sisodia to Delhi University Vice Chancellor, Mr. Yogesh Tyagi, citing violation of norms.

A notice dated 25th February 2020 was available on the college website. It stated the list of 20 shortlisted candidates who were called for the interview on 1st March 2020 at 10 a.m. in the International Guest House, North Campus. The applications for the post were in response to the Advertisement No. SSN College/ Principal/ Advt./ 2019 dated as 6th October, 2019.

Manish Sisodia, in a letter to Yogesh Tyagi said, “It is to inform that the appointment has to be made in accordance to norms. It is requested that the interview should not be conducted in the absence of a properly conducted governing body.”

“Hence, the interview fixed for selection of principal on March 1 must be cancelled immediately”, said Sisodia, in his letter.

Response from Yogesh Tyagi and Delhi University authorities could not be garnered. This report will be updated as and when a statement from them becomes available.

Priyanshi Banerjee

[email protected]

The last year in the life of a college student comes and goes in the blink of an eye. But it brings with it a lot of ups and downs, highs and lows.

The final year comprises more of tension and panic than enjoyment. The stress and anxieties of college ending and a newer and more difficult life coming up is always there in the minds of a final year student. Amidst this stress comes a lot of other important events. Assignments, placements, semester exams, entrance coaching’s and the last fests are among them. It is the time when we want to catch hold of everything. This article will trace the journey of a final year student and talk about some of the events that most of the students go through in their last year of college.


  • Spending Hours in Coaching Classes: 

All those who wish to take admissions in postgrad courses or LLB or plan to give any other competitive exams spend more time in their coaching centres than in colleges. Juggling between college and entrance preparation becomes a huge task as entrance preparations are just an add on to the already busy schedules. What are your weekend plans? being the most annoying question that can ever be asked to the students who take entrance coaching. These people do not have a weekend. They go and sit through three or four hours of classes and give mock tests and mock examinations on the weekends.

  • Internals for the Last Time: 

After giving tests and submitting regular assignments for two years, we might become habitual to it but we do not like doing it. The regular assessment system is something that just keeps on pissing us off. The deadlines of assignment submission keep on coming every week and the dates for tests are always planned well in advance. But this also leads the students towards the one last internal that they give in their undergrad college life as the clock keeps on ticking bringing them towards the end of their college life.

  • Semester Exams: 

Amidst all the things going on, the semester exams come on their time. December and May being the most difficult months. Scoring good marks in semester-end examinations becomes more difficult for students who are preparing for entrance exams or professional courses. One brain, one body but so many things to focus on.

  • Sitting Through Interviews: 

Various colleges have Placement Cells that have collaborations with some great companies. Most of the time in the last year of college goes by preparing for interviews and sitting through them to bag a great job. Coming out of college as an employed person is an achievement in its own. The pressure that it builds is also something that needs to be talked about. The formal wear, the anxious atmosphere and the dreams of being employed with a great package are what a lot of people aspire for.

  • The Final Fest Season:

The fest season never sees a dull moment. Attending college fests for one more time before the ID cards become invalid for entry is what most of us aspire to do. The fun that the fest season brings with it is something that most of the students look forward to. a lot of students wish to attend the fests of all the known colleges before they graduate and final year is like the last opportunity for them to fulfil this wish. They want to make the most of their college life and the do the most in these three years. Making sure that they attend concerts of all the famous singers becomes a point in their lives.

  • The Final Day – Farewell 


The final day in college, the Farewell arrives sooner than people think it would. Time flies faster than anything else and there comes the day that people would remember and cherish for the rest of their lives. The ‘Graduation caps’ and the ‘Bachelor Scrolls’ shows the paths to the future. This day tells the students that what future holds for them is something very bright and they need to keep moving ahead to embrace the beautiful experience of life. Farewell tells the students to ‘Fare thee well’.

The journey from the freshers to the farewell is a short but exciting one. Final year is the time when we all want to make the most of our college lives. At this time when we realise that there won’t be another year, another semester, we wish to do everything that we might have missed upon in the first two years. This makes it more difficult. The year is full of many important events and people go through many highs and lows throughout. But what is important is that we live our lives to the fullest and work for the future as well. All you need to know is that it might be difficult but you will sail through. At this time, everything might feel to be slipping out of your hands but you will find your way out and everything that happens is going to lead you to a more beautiful side of life.


Feature Image Credits: Let’s Intern


Priya Chauhan

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With the second season of Comicstaan being won by a University of Delhi (DU) alumnus, the game of comedy has changed forever for aspirants. Here is a candid conversation with the winner of Comicstaan Season Two, Mr. Aakash Gupta.

  • Khyati: How did you begin with standup comedy?

Aakash: I used to do theatre before comedy. I did theatre in my college, Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Then I moved into professional theatre after college. Besides that, I started learning improv (improvisational) comedy. I was still not aware of stand-up until then. After a year and a half, I got to know about open mics in Delhi. Soon enough, I registered myself for a couple of open mics. So I have to write my own material for those, which I was not used to, because improv is more of a team thing. There is no writing in it. So it was a new thing for me. I tried it, I liked it, and started doing it.

  • Khyati: What was your parents’ reaction when you told them this is what you want to do?

Aakash: I never really told them about it as such. I was doing open mics while also doing multiple other things. I was interning at a radio station, doing plays, shooting documentaries. They just knew I was doing something. I took a lot of time before professionally getting into comedy. I graduated in 2013 and I even worked for a year after college. It was only after two to three years that I started professional comedy. Otherwise it was a part-time thing for me.

  • Khyati: When did you really gain the confidence to become a professional stand-up comedian?

Aakash: There was no one moment as such. Things flowed smoothly for me. After open mics, I started getting spots. I also met other comics and hosted their shows. Then eventually, I did my own shows with a bunch of comics. So, it was just one step at a time.

  • Khyati: What would you call your career highlight?

Aakash: When I first uploaded my video on YouTube about one and a half years back, that was the first time when I felt like “I’ll be fine, I can do this.” After that, I started getting shows. People started buying my tickets. That was the time I had to leave everything else, which I regret. I miss doing theatre. Acting has been my first love, and the second is stand-up.

  • Khyati: Was there a moment when you felt like giving up?

Aakash: That happens with us comics, everyday. The fear that we have is of not doing good or bombing. You see, standup is a brutal art form. We are judged right on the spot. It is not a movie, which people watch for an hour before giving their verdict. Here, you tell a joke. Either it lands, or it bombs. You can see the faces of the people in front of you and know how you did. If you post a video on YouTube, you can disable the comments or not read them. It’s your choice. But yahan pe apke saamne log baithe hain. Agar woh nahi has rahe, wahi apka result hai! (But the people are sitting right in front of you here. If they are not laughing, that’s your result right there!) In terms of money, I always found some way to earn enough to sustain. I haven’t faced that much of a problem. There was a point when I didn’t have so much but it was fine.

  • Khyati: What has been your worst bombing experience?

Aakash: There has been a lot but the worst one was at Striker Pub at DLF Promenade. I was hosting a show for a big comic. It was house-full and I was just one year into comedy – very new. Us se pehle mere saath aisa kuch hua nahi tha. Mai gaya stage pe aur mai mast perform kar raha hun and nobody is listening! (Nothing like this had happened before to me. I go up on the stage and I am just actively performing and nobody is listening!) People are cheering with their beer glasses among themselves. So I addressed them ki inki apni comedy chal rahi hai and wahan se jawab aaya ki haan tujhse achhi chal rahi hai! (So I addressed them saying, “Look, how they are enjoying their own comedy show,” and they responded by saying, “Yes, and it’s better than yours!”) And I didn’t know how to save myself at that time. This happens with us every day. Abhi bhi hota hai. Abhi bhi log ulta bolte hain. (This still happens with us. People still heckle us.) But now we know the way to deal with that. At that time, I just blanked out on stage. Mujhe samajh nahi aaya ki mai kya bolun! (I didn’t know what to say!)

  • Khyati: What is the plan for all the prize money?

Aakash: It is invested. Very smartly!

  • Khyati: Who is your favourite contestant and judge from Comicstaan?

Aakash: I like everyone for something they have that others don’t.

  • Khyati: Oh, come on!

Aakash: It is a very honest answer! But, I was always fond of watching what Sumit Sourav would do. I have known him for two years before Comicstaan. So I know ki woh paagal insaan hai. Ki woh kharab kar sakta hai ya woh bilkul hi amazing kar sakta hai. (He is crazy. Either, he can do very badly, or he can give an amazing performance.) There’s always this knack about what he’ll really do up on the stage!

  • Khyati: What are your future plans?

Aakash: I am touring with my show called Excuse Me Brother. I will complete the first round of (the) tour in September. And then, I am planning to release a video on YouTube.

  • Khyati: What would be your advice to the budding comics?

Aakash: If you want to do comedy, just start doing comedy! Don’t wait for it! Go on the stage as much as possible. You can’t become a comic in your room. You have to go out. You have to bomb. If you don’t bomb, you won’t learn.


Feature Image Credits: Aakash Gupta (@theskygupta ) via Instagram

Guest Interviewer;

Khyati Sanger

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DU Beat engaged in a conversation with Dr. Sanjay Kumar, India Country Director, The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.

Priyanshu: Many students come from small towns and villages with dreams to pursue something big in life. But due to lack of exposure and good role models, they get stuck preparing for Government jobs or follow the conventional career path. As an academician and a social activist who went all the way from a small town in Bihar, Katihar, to Harvard Kennedy School, what can you suggest to these young minds?

Dr. Kumar: To begin with, it comes from parents initially. They try to condition you in a way that you should take up a particular line of action. To the students, I would like to suggest that each student is different and each human being has unique potential and, thus, they should explore that unique potential. Somehow, we believe that if the neighbour’s son is doing this, you should also be following the same. I faced this a lot. Even with my cousin brother my father used to say, “Yeh dekho CA ki padhai kar raha hai. Woh padhaai kar raha hai, usme bhi usko CA bana dete the. (Look at him, he is preparing to become a Chartered Accountant. If he is simply studying as well, then too they would make him a CA.)” It’s a wrong approach and every human being has a separate talent; and following the conventional path you do not get an opportunity to explore thing which you can explore as an individual. You don’t want to take chances in your life. At this age, I think one can definitely take chances. It is after midage that one requires security in life but early in life, one should try to discover what they are looking for. And nowadays, I am very happy to see that a few students from Delhi University are taking a break after their undergrad to explore themselves, which is a very Western concept. So, my answer to your question is: young students should explore various career paths, and career is not the end. Unfortunately, in our country everyone thinks that UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) is the goal. I am sorry to say but this is a big misconception. Being a civil servant can be a means to serve the end, but it cannot be the end. I would strongly suggest (that) the students should identify the purpose in life as early as possible. And purposes can be changed as well. It can be edited and altered. But then one can accordingly find means to serve the purpose.

Priyanshu: What opportunities does the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University, provide to young students who come from underprivileged backgrounds?

Dr. Kumar: So, since last two years, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University India office is the connector and convenor of the Harvard Programme in South Asia and it has a number of programmes but for youngsters we have a specific programme called ‘Crossroads’ where two of the Harvard faculties from Harvard Business School have come up with this idea of bringing youngsters from all over the world (it started from south Asia but now it’s all over the world) and we organise this in Dubai. It’s a fully funded programme. There are donors based out of Dubai. It’s a one-week training for students around leadership and exposing them towards the Harvard method of education and teaching. This is only for students who are first in their family to go to college. In a way, the programme is targeting underprivileged youngsters and the best thing about the programme is that all of them fly to Dubai and meet other students and teachers. (The link to apply for the programme is: https://mittalsouthasiainstitute. harvard.edu/crossroads/)

Priyanshu: You have talked about this in your book too and this concerns the nation at large as well. The decline of public education in our country is quite worrisome. Who do you blame for this? The Government or the private education ecosystem? How do you perceive this and what has your organisation, Edjustice, achieved in resolving this issue?

Dr. Kumar: It’s definitely the Government! Because the idea of privatisation comes from the Government, and the market always sees the opportunity. You cannot blame the private educators. If they see the opportunity, they will come forward. I don’t think it’s (privatisation) a good idea. For a country like India, we still need to continue with public education for 30 to 40 years, because a lot of people are still lagging behind in education and they can’t afford costly private education. The indicators are not good, and the kind of fees that the private universities charge – I am not taking about quality – not everyone can afford. What stops us to strengthen our public education system which can provide quality education? If you see, 20 years ago, all the big names were coming from public colleges. Even now, some of the big names are coming from public universities only. So, it’s just that the Government doesn’t wish to put attention on public colleges. I don’t blame the private players. I blame the Government. And, people also need to be blamed. We are not talking or protesting about it. We want the good pie in everything. For health, we want five star health-care. Our aim is to earn good money, so that we can avail good facilities and our children can go to good schools. Our aim is not to fix the system which used to exist. Take an example: when we talk about quality of air, we know that it is affecting everyone – the rich, the poor, and the middle class – everyone is harassed by air pollution. So, everyone is talking about the air pollution, but education is something which is not bothering them; no one is talking about that. So, if public education is not affecting my kid or my family, then I am not going to talk about it. But I am talking about air as it used to be very good. But then our public education also used to be very good. If we are taking about reviving or cleaning the air, why can’t we talk about reviving the public education system? So, the public is also responsible. I also wonder why students studying in DU colleges and the students’ unions do not raise the issue of high-quality teaching in colleges? Since you mentioned about my book, I would encourage students to read my book, Katihar To Kennedy: The Road Less Travelled. It depicts my life at DU and what all I gained being a DU student. It’s available on Amazon.

Priyanshu: A lot of students dream to pursue higher education from Ivy League or Russell group colleges after their graduation. The exorbitant fee and sustaining in foreign countries make scholarships a viable option. As a student who has fetched a scholarship to study in Harvard Kennedy School, can you suggest how an average student can grab one for themselves?

Dr. Kumar: For that, I think these universities look (at) leadership skills in you, how good you are at extracurricular activities, how good you are in the field you are pursuing, and what leadership role you have played. And it’s also important to let them know how your learning is going to help the humanity, at large. So, when you are writing your SOP (statement of purpose), these things matter a lot and it should come naturally. You can’t decide today that you want to apply for Harvard or Princeton, and someone suggest that you have to write an SOP and you start writing . That’s not a good thing to do. You need to start as early as possible. I don’t mean you have to start writing as early as possible, but you have to build your personality like that. You have to build your profile like that. There are a lot of scholarships available. One thing that I have observed is that if you have to go to foreign counties for higher studies and if you have the right intent, then nobody can stop you.

Priyanshu: How can a student be a part of your Edjustice People’s Campaign and contribute to the development of underprivileged children?

Dr. Kumar: So, Edjustice is a campaign to rejuvenate public education system in India. It’s an all-volunteer run campaign, so it’s quite unique. The campaign started from Bihar, but the model is quite relicable and scalable, hence we will move to other states next year. So, any student from Delhi University who wants to be a part of this education camping and believes in strengthening and rejuvenating the public education system is very much welcome to join us. For more information, one can visit www.edjustice.in and the Facebook page is @edjusticeindia and if you want to write, the e-mail ID is [email protected]. With the active volunteers, the campaign expects eight hours per week, which is mostly off-site and we have meetings every week, and that too in the evening so that it suits everyone. The volunteers also travel to field areas like Bihar once in a while, but they also support us with designing the campaign and various programmes. Volunteers can join for one year and they can always renew after that. This is a very good opportunity for young students, especially for DU students and since I come from this varsity, I feel that students are very bright in DU and they can contribute a lot. Many students from LSR (Lady Shri Ram), Hindu, and Venkateswara College are a part of this campaign.

Feature Image Credits: Mr. Sanjay Kumar

Interviewed by Priyanshu and Maumil Mehraj for DU Beat

[email protected] [email protected]

Interview transcribed by Priyanshu for DU Beat

On Thursday, 5th September 2019, DU Beat conducted an interview with Ankit Bharti, the Vice-Presidential Candidate from National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) in context to the upcoming Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections.

(Translated from Hindi)

Satviki: To the common student, DUSU feels like an unapproachable political entity. What will you and your party do to ensure accountability to the students of Delhi University?

Ankit: NSUI has initiated various campaigns. The current Awaaz Uthao Seeti Bajao campaign is initiated for equality in the campus, where we have taken issues of university special buses and 24/7 library. We are also working on providing hostel facilities for outstation students. Our issues also include one course, one fee to ensure that the fees across all courses remain the same. The central library is closed before the elections and opens after it. So we would ensure that the library is open all the time.

We also want to increase the accessibility of Placement Cell in colleges for students who come to DU with their dreams and aspirations.

Satviki: You said NSUI will improve hostel facilities in DU and bring the fee changes through ‘One course, one fee’ program. How exactly are you planning to do that?

Ankit: NSUI has been working on this for a long time, to view everyone with the same eyes and not discriminate. Which is also why NSUI has initiated the program in the first place. The students who come from outstation have to face many difficulties. Not everyone can afford the fees, and the hostels also not open to everyone. So under this program, we want to provide equal opportunity to all students, be they from a rich family, a middle-class family, a poor family, or disabled.

Satviki: The incidents on Old Gupta Road and Hindu Rao Hospital highlight security concerns for those living in the north campus. What steps will you take to ensure safety and security on campus?

Ankit: DU has always been ruled through muscle and money power. The people who get elected in the union are usually from the upper castes, with a lot of money. People from backward castes are not able to contest usually, due to not being economically strong.

So these upper-caste politicians maintain a good relationship with the police. Moreover, the students from backward caste have to face many difficulties, such as Pramod Kumar Sanu, who was recently beaten up. Neither has the university has taken any steps for him nor have the police, because he was a Dalit student.

So casteism is extremely prevalent in the university. The first thing we would do is increase the security in and around the university so all students feel safe and end hooliganism in the university. For this, we would take to the police and convince them to work with us.

Satviki: How inclusive do you think NSUI is in terms of minority and LGBTQIA+ representation?

Ankit: NSUI has initiated the program of ‘One University, Equal Opportunity’ to give the same opportunity to everyone, regardless of their caste, race, religion, or gender. After such a long time, NSUI has allowed a woman as their presidential candidate. So, we work based on equality, unlike other parties where muscle power and money power are taken into consideration such that no one can raise their voices against them.

Satviki: Campaigning every year uses up a tremendous amount of paper for pamphlets, posters, etc which then leads to litter on campus. What is your say on the matter?

Ankit: We have tried to highlight the use of social media this time for our campaigns so that the paper isn’t wasted. This time we will make full efforts to not litter the roads with campaign paper and will try not to allow opposition parties to say anything against us.

Satviki: Delhi University was recently declared an Institute of Eminence by the Union Government which entitles DU to payment of a 1000 crores over 5 years, however, the trend in 2019 in DU has been of increasing fees and hostel rates. Why do you think this is so? And what will your party do to reduce fee hikes and hostel rates?

Ankit: This is all under the central government where they revise fees. We will initiate a campaign against this as we understand that in DU people come from all backgrounds and cannot afford expensive tuition. We will talk to the university administration.

Satviki: The overriding perception of University politics is that It involves dirty politics, strong-arming, and violence. What has your party done to prove this perception wrong during this campaigning period, and what does it plan to do to reduce these perceptions in the future?

Ankit:This time all the candidates come from a middle-class family. Chetna Tyagi, Aashish Lamba, and I all come from a middle-class family with no political backing. I come from a Dalit family. So, based on this, we can fairly say NSUI does not believe in money or muscle power.

Satviki: The Lyngdoh Committee lays down 5000 rupees as the maximum expenditure amount, how does your party maintain it?

Ankit: We are working on social media so that our paper is not wasted and it remains under 5000. We do not want to break any rules of the committee.

Satviki: Last year, there were allegations of EVM tampering against ABVP, also to be noted, the EVM’S were privately supplied and not by the Election Commission. How will you ensure that incidents like this don’t occur this year and how do you plan to make sure elections are held fairly?

Ankit: We will talk to the Cheif Election Officer and give them an application beforehand so there is no tampering. If there’s still some cases of tampering, we will try to find solutions for it.

Satviki: Which element differentiates you from the other contenders for the post of Vice President?

Ankit: Firstly, my candidates have power, both in terms of muscle power and money power. I, on the other hand, am a Dalit. They get people from outside for campaigning, whereas we believe in the strength of our group itself. We have the students’ support with us.

Satviki: What message would you like to give to the students of DU so that they choose you?

Ankit: I would first like to thank NSUI for rising above all discrimination and giving me this opportunity to run as a candidate. NSUI has ended the politics of discrimination and chosen me, a person from a Dalit family.

Feature Image Credits: NSUI

Satviki Sanjay

[email protected]