THE CHANGE AGENT

Ranked among the top ten uni­ver­si­ties of In­dia, Univer­sity of Delhi, is lead­ing the way in terms of in­no­va­tion and qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion. Here’s why.

India Today - - NEW DELHI - DEEPSHIKHA PUNJ

When Aarti Bha­tia scored a 96 per cent in her 12th CBSE boards this year, she could not be­lieve her luck. Her ad­mis­sion to the pres­ti­gious Delhi Univer­sity was se­cure. Bha­tia, like a large num­ber of young­sters rep­re­sent the lot who take pride in be­ing a part of this 89-year old univer­sity.

Di­nesh Singh, vice chan­cel­lor, Delhi Univer­sity says, “The univer­sity has some of In­dia’s most en­thu­si­as­tic, bright, highly mo­ti­vated and en­thu­si­as­tic stu­dents. Also, many of our pro­grammes are out­stand­ing re­sult­ing in de­mand for ad­mis­sion.” Since Singh took over as the vice chan­cel­lor in Oc­to­ber 2010, the univer­sity has wit­nessed sev­eral changes. Two of the most sig­nif­i­cant one’s were in­tro­duc­tion of the se­mes­ter sys­tem and sky- high cut offs this year. Singh ex­plains, “This in­sti­tu­tion has a moral duty and obli­ga­tion to cre­ate a plat­form where ev­ery­one should be able to recog­nise who they are, then they will be fruit­ful and pro­duc­tive in their lives and the lives of their na­tion. That is what we wanted to achieve through the se­mes­ter sys­tem. As for the cut-offs, no one that I know was af­fected by it. Since we live in a democ­racy, there are all kinds of voices and noises, all kinds of mu­sic. You have let them flour­ish, That is the value of democ­racy.”

There is this im­pres­sion largely cre­ated through the me­dia that the whole univer­sity was up in arms against the se­mes­ter sys­tem and that the vice chan­cel­lor was left iso­lated and it is his bat­tle. “Un­for­tu­nately that is not the pic­ture. There are sev­eral wise and far-sighted peo­ple in the univer­sity. Aca­demics are like hu­mans ev­ery­where else and there will be peo­ple who will agree with your point of view, no mat­ter where or who

you are. How­ever, the in­sti­tu­tion within the univer­sity re­mains strong. Our de­ci­sion mak­ing bod­ies, our fo­rums for dis­cus­sions are in a very healthy state. Dis­cus­sion took place over the next eight month or so af­ter I be­came VC. There were many peo­ple sup­port­ing the whole idea. It helped carry the pro­gramme for­ward ev­ery­where, in ev­ery fac­ulty, dis­ci­pline, and depart­ment,” says Singh. He adds that there was sup­port and there were peo­ple who dis­agreed. But they went through this the way an in­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nism is ex­pected to func­tion to en­sure that the se­mes­ter sys­tem was put into place.

The univer­sity has started a new pro­gramme in the Clus­ter In­no­va­tion Cen­tre. Singh ex­plains, “Our pro­grammes will be in­ter- dis­ci­plinary, hands-on and high-end. We are blend­ing the three fea­tures to­gether. Right now we are start­ing a new un­der grad­u­ate four year B.tech. pro­gramme. The only pre-req­ui­site of the pro­gramme is that one must have math­e­mat­ics in their 12th stan­dard even if you have not stud­ied physics or chem­istry. There are many girls in this pro­gramme.” Through this pro­gramme, stu­dents can be­come molec­u­lar bi­ol­o­gist, zo­ol­o­gist, ge­neti­cian, elec­tron­ics en­gi­neer, math­e­ma­ti­cian. Same pro­gramme. “It will give you a plat­form where you can find your way into be­com­ing what you want. That is why it is called B.tech in in­no­va­tion with math­e­mat­ics and IT. It is 60 per cent hands on project mode and 40 per cent the­ory and stu­dents will work with in­dus­trial clus­ters and in­no­vate.”

Singh also headed the sign­ing of a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Kash­mir Univer­sity and Is­lamic Univer­sity of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy in Sri­na­gar. The col­lab­o­ra­tion would give stu­dents from the two uni­ver­si­ties an op­por­tu­nity to learn from teach­ers at Delhi Univer­sity and vice versa. “Stu­dents were beamed live dur­ing the sign­ing cer­e­mony, in­di­cat­ing that the need of the hour has shifted from the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge to tech­ni­cal know how,” says Singh.

Although Singh has been work­ing hard on im­prov­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion, there are ar­eas that once worked on can prove to be ad­van­ta­geous for the univer­sity. Ab­hay Ku­mar, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor, Sri Ram Col­lege of Com­merce says, “The se­mes­ter sys­tem is work­ing well and we are hope­ful of good re­sults. But we need to work hard on de­vel­op­ing in­fra­struc­ture and hir­ing per­ma­nent lec­tur­ers, and in all hon­esty it may take some time for us to be the best, but the fu­ture is not far.”

Di­nesh Singh, Vice Chan­cel­lor, Delhi Univer­sity

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