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Millennium Post

No hallmark of a central university

Universities are the last places where political dirt games should find a refuge, but the AAP drive to bring in 90 per cent reservation for Delhiites in fully-funded colleges of Delhi varsity smacks of such a misadventure. While it’s not a novel move on the part of the ruling party in the national capital, since the idea was floated last October by the state HRD ministry under Congress government but didn’t gather much steam, it is also true that if implemented, this rule might leave a severe dent in the ideological architecture of a central university such as DU. Even though meant for about a dozen colleges that are fully funded by the government, reserving 90 per cent of seats for those who have completed their 10+2 from Delhi schools, appears to be a very fuzzy idea in the first place. As a national university, DU stands for not only excellence in higher education in this country, but also, in its student and faculty makeup, represents a heterogeneous assemblage, perhaps reflective of the enormous diversity, in culture, language, religion and other markers of identity. Hence, to bring in a legislation that reeks, even if remotely, of the ‘son of the soil’ argument, is not only an assault on the national and accommodative character of the central varsity, but also a thorough negation of cosmopolitanism of Delhi itself, which is basically a city of refugees and migrants. With students from outside the national capital, in fact from the most distant corners of the country, making up a substantial portion of Delhi’s population, it becomes difficult to determine who the real Delhiite is. It is actually a misleading and inherently discriminatory question. Moreover, students who have completed their school education in Delhi, a number running into several thousands, will not really benefit from this essentially symbolic move to reserve a few thousand seats for them, since in any case, meeting the college benchmark would ensure their admission into regular colleges.

     The other problem with this move is creating a multi-tier system within the Capital’s student community, with those getting admission through the proposed quota feeling a misplaced sense of belonging or superiority than the rest. This is extremely antithetical to the ethos of a central university, which is meant to harness talents from every part of the country. How can AAP, which has so far taken bold and unorthodox positions on most issues plaguing the city, adopt a stance that is essentially prejudiced against thousands of students who come to the city with their hopes raised? Instead of coming up with gimmicky legislations such as these and diluting the varsity’s expansive character, the AAP-led state government should help set up more universities and colleges to plug the gaping hole in higher education needs in Delhi. Purely on the basis of numbers, the proposed move is bound to fall flat and could only work for certain bigoted sections of the population, going gravely against the rising tide of participatory democracy. AAP’s pan-India agenda will also take a big hit if such quasi-fascist sentiments are allowed to fester in the heart of the national capital. Since putting aside a mere thousand seats for 1.75 lakh students who do not make it to DU colleges in the present system will not yield much, the only way forward to accommodate them would be by establishing new ones at par with DU.
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