It has been almost three months since the admission process in Delhi University started. At that point of time the newspaper headlines screamed about cut-off lists with 100 percent marks.
Three months later the same newspapers have been slow in finding out why the precious seats in the prestigious university are going abegging even in the premium courses like BCom (Honours).
It may be a simplistic analysis, but the hoary university is getting run for its money by the professional colleges under the Guru Govind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU). Soon after the admission process in DU, the admission process in GGSIPU started. Given the disruptions caused by Covid 19, the manage-ment of most of the GGSIPU colleges were keeping their fingers crossed about the students opting for the self-financing courses they run.
To everyone’s surprise the well-equipped colleges of GGSIPU has not had a problem of ‘admission’ in the popular professional courses like the 5-year-LLB programme (both BALLB & BBALLB), the three-year-BBA programme, BCA programme and the BA journalism and mass communication course. Many a student who had managed admission in DU have opted for these courses in hoardes, after the results of the pan-India CLAT for the law students and university conducted CET for other courses came out.
There is another factor which propels good student intake in the colleges of GGSIPU especially in the traditional programmes like BCom (Honours), Economics (Honours) and English (Honours). After the first few rounds of counseling, the seats reserved for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other reserved categories, which remain unclaimed, are thrown open to the waitlisted general category students in the merit list, thus leading to the next round of exodus of the general category students from DU, who so far may have failed to find a toe-hold in the more prestigious colleges.
Among the many factors which have accounted for this exodus are the rampant absenteeism among the teachers and administrative staff, dilapidated infrastructure and absence of any mechanism to establish accountability. Over the past 10 years, DU has come to witness a complete absence of institutional focus on academics. If somebody needed a reference point, it could be checked on the ISBN register, on how many books authored by the DU faculty members find a mention there and how many of them actually make it to the book-stores or e-commerce sites for sales, not even 10 percent.
The true story is that a few copies of the authored volumes are printed to gather sufficient points on the academic performance indicator (API) to assure promotion under the career advancement scheme (CAS).
With the long-stuck promotion process being fast-forwarded by the officiating Delhi University administration, the fly-by-night publishers are making a hay churning out academic inanity day in and day out. More sadly, the promotion committees do not have the ‘mandate’ to sit on scrutiny over these publications with the squads from the teacher’s union waiting outside to pounce on any move being made towards academic accountability.
The elections for teacher representatives on the academic and executive council of Delhi University are due in a month’s time. No political outfit is talking about an academic agenda and only showcasing their achievements in getting higher pays and perks. Nobody would grudge it if the increased pays and perks come with certain amount of accountability. The seats remaining vacant even after the 8th or 9th list of DU colleges is a sure sign of cancer which is taking the premier university in its grips. Today the malaise may be surfacing in the lesser-known colleges but the decay in no time would spread, if amends are not made.
Sidharth Mishra Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice