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In centenary year Delhi University faces Balkanization

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By Sidharth Mishra

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has visited the Delhi University twice in less than a month’s time. On the first occasion, he accompanied Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at the function to declare the centenary celebrations of the university open. The second time he came to give company to Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a seminar on political science.

The minister’s presence at the various celebrations to commemorate 100 years cannot be contested, it should rather be welcomed. However, the worry at hand is whether Pradhan is also aware of the challenge of Balkanization being faced by the hallowed university. Pradhan’s tenure in history should not be recorded as the one which saw maiming of the hoary campus.

The issue at hand is the move by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, cocking a snook at the Delhi University, to take over the prestigious College of Art and merging it with state government-run Ambedkar University of Delhi (AUD). Despite protest by students and teachers, a supine Delhi University administration and Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA), both controlled by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), have not decided to contest the AAP government move.

They have so far failed to take the cognizance of the crisis, which has forced the employees’ association of the college to write to the Prime Minister and the Vice-President as an “emergency distress call” asking that the Delhi government’s decision to merge the college with Ambedkar University be stayed and the ongoing admissions under the latter be stopped.

Earlier, the Delhi government had announced that its cabinet had approved the merger of the college with AUD. The office of the Lieutenant Governor had given in-principle approval to this merger subject to its de-affiliation from DU. However, the Executive Council, DU’s highest statutory body, had rejected the proposal for de-affiliation.

Despite the rejection of de-affiliation proposal, College of Art has formally begun its admission process under AUD. Last week, a notification was issued stating that the Delhi government has initiated admissions to College of Art for the 2022-2023 academic year as part of AUD, and the concerned varsity advertised admissions claiming that the College of Art was under it.

In the case of de-affiliation of the 80-year-old college from the 100-year-old university is allowed to go uncontested, it would open a floodgate for the Delhi government to de-affiliate another 28 colleges from Delhi University and merge them with the universities of their choice. This would completely destroy the character of Delhi University.

There are 12 Delhi University colleges that are fully-funded by the Delhi government. These colleges are – Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, Mahrishi Valmiki B.Ed College, Maharaja Agrasen College, Shaheed Rajguru Women’s College, Deen Dayal Upadhyay College, Indira Gandhi College of Physical Education, Bhaskaracharya College, Acharya Narendra Dev Women’s College, Keshav Mahavidyalay, Bhagini Nivedita Women’s College and Aditi Women’s Mahavidyalaya.

Though these colleges are constituent colleges of Delhi University, the AAP government has run its writ here by not releasing salary if its wish list was not met. In addition to these there 16 other colleges which has five percent funding by the Delhi government but are fully controlled by it through the governing bodies.

With Delhi government enjoying a control over 28 colleges through the governing bodies, it can have these bodies pass resolution seeking de-affiliation from Delhi University and join a state-run university. The current DU administration has been more than pliable with the Delhi government and has been shirking from the responsibility of ensuring service and salary parity in these colleges with the University Grants Commission-funded colleges of Delhi University.

(The writer is Author and President, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice) 


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