Oasis of a few colleges in dreary desert called DU

In the recently announced ranking by the Ministry of Education’s National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF), Delhi University continues to lag behind many, positioned 11th on the list.

Published: 12th June 2023 08:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th June 2023 08:44 AM   |  A+A-

Delhi University.(File Photo)

Delhi University.(File Photo)

Express News Service

The Delhi University administration even in the 101st year of its existence has continued to carry on with the centenary celebrations. These celebrations are meaningless if the university slips on the scale of academic excellence.

In the recently announced ranking by the Ministry of Education’s National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF), Delhi University continues to lag behind many, positioned 11th on the list.

While it’s not just the younger universities like the Jawaharlal Nehru University that have remained ahead of DU, it’s even the older institutions like the Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia who are ahead.

To be pithy with expression, it can safely be said that DU has been beaten by both the new and the old alike. The university officials have nevertheless tried taking credit for the successful performance of some of the colleges in the ranking. But then this is nothing more than mere a few oases in the dreary desert called DU.

With just about 30-odd colleges of Delhi University figuring in the top 100 colleges of the country, the university’s publicity department cannot really go around trumpeting that nine of its colleges figure in the top 15. The question is why the 50-plus other colleges do not figure in the list of top 100.

Delhi University has been known for its colleges, and they indeed have held the glory of the university together. So while it’s appreciable that nine out of India’s top 15 colleges are from Delhi University but at the same time it's worrisome that many are floundering at the bottom even below those from the private sector.

Similarly in the university ranking, it’s not just the new and old government-funded universities that have beaten Delhi University but there are at least two privately-funded institutions that have raced ahead of the hoary university. The question is why is the edifice crumbling? The answer probably lies in some of the known evils like parochialism, which comes in many genres.

Delhi University today is burdened by the tyranny of the undeserving. While ideological resolve long back overtook scholarship, what’s hurting is that loyalty to ideology has come to be defined as loyalty to a few ideological satraps. While this may help in the temporary satisfaction of having added a few numbers to an ideological (or rather personal) cadre, in the long run, it’s going to hurt the performance of institutions especially under the parameters defined by a body like the NIRF.

One of the biggest indicators of the lack of confidence in the university is almost a complete absence of industry-academia partnerships on the campus. This has to be defined in terms of the events/projects which the industrial houses are funding. The amount in the case of DU is meagre, indicating the malady about which we mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

There was a time when the professors of liberal arts would have people standing in the corridors outside their classrooms in the old arts faculty building listening to their lectures. Today people in the similar chair are more comfortable rolling up their sleeves in front of the television cameras in the studios which have no credibility.

On the brighter side, there are colleges like Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma (ARSD), which have moved rapidly up the ladder and have continued to hold to a high position year after year. On the other hand, ‘Maha Vishnus’ of the yore like St Stephen’s College find themselves poorly placed. They probably lived for too long on the laurels of a glorious past. That was at the time when the absence of evaluation frameworks like NIRF made rankings less egalitarian than today. The NIRF has clearly shown that DU as a university is not so good.

Sidharth Mishra
Author and president, Centre for Reforms,Development & Justice

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