Delhi University (DU) recently completed its 100 years. It was established on May 1, 1922. This university, which had its centenary celebrations, played a seminal role in the Freedom Struggle of India. Many national heroes like Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh have been associated with DU. This institution has given many leaders to India as well as other countries. The university has seen many ups and downs during its 100 year journey. Delhi University has emerged as one of the leading universities in India and the world. Students from almost all the States of India are studying in this university. Hence DU is known as mini India. To know answers to important questions like contribution in freedom movement, impact of COVID-19 on the university and New Education Policy, Mahendra Kumar of Organiser Weekly had a chat with Professor Yogesh Singh, Vice Chancellor of Delhi University. Excerpts:
Elaborate on Delhi University’s journey from its inception till now?
In this glorious journey of 100 years, Delhi University has fulfilled India’s expectations and served humanity. This journey was started by 750 students and three colleges – St Stephen’s, Ramjas and Hindu College. Today the university has more than 6 lakh students and 90 colleges. Then there used to be two Faculties of Arts and Science, whose series have now increased to 16. There were 1,380 books in the library here, which are now in lakhs. This university, which started with a budget of Rs 40,000, has today reached a budget of Rs 838 crores. I believe that this university has made unprecedented progress in every field. Delhi University has made an important contribution in the building of the country. It has also played an important role in the freedom movement.
In these hundred years, which was the golden period of the university and why?
It is very difficult to say which period has been the golden period of this university in all these years. Still, I would like to say that when this university was started, it had to face many challenges. Once a proposal came in front of the Government of that time that this university should be closed. There was a lot of discussion in the Central Assembly about this at that time. After which the people of that time decided that this institution should be kept running, it is in the interest of the nation. After the Independence of India in 1947, development of this university happened very fast. Gradually the influence of this university spread all over the country. There is hardly any house in Delhi where Delhi University has not reached. I think you will find people studying in DU in every district, tehsil of the country or who have passed out from this university. That’s why I always say that the soul of India resides in this university. Apart from this, our students have also made significant contributions at the international level. People here are also playing an important role in policy making for the development of India.
‘It is also told that Shaheed Bhagat Singh was kept in the DU for a few days when the bomb was detonated in the Central Assembly. The place where Bhagat Singh was kept. We have made that place into a small museum’
Describe the condition of the university library from the beginning till now?
It was the initial thing when this university was being built and when the Vice Regal Hall here was empty. The room here is what we call Conference Room. There used to be a library there. After that the Science Library was formed. Apart from this, a Central Library was constructed here. There were 1,380 books in the early times. Here Tata also has a library in the Delhi School of Economics. In all the libraries here, the State Book of Arts, apart from a large number of books, digital archives are present in abundance. Apart from this, a large number of databases exist. Just as a very good university level library should be there, so is the library here. The number of physical books in our place is more than 4 lakhs. Talking about digital books, the number is also very high.
What was the role of the university in the Freedom Movement?
Delhi University has played an important role in the freedom movement. It was established in 1922. From 1922 to 1947, this institution was an important centre of many events of the Independence movement. The Gandhi-Irwin Pact took place on the campus of Delhi University which is today known as Vice Regal Hall. Viceroy used to live here at that time.
In the Independence movement, students of DU played an important role. It is also told that Shaheed Bhagat Singh was kept in the university for a few days when the bomb was detonated in the Central Assembly. The place where Bhagat Singh was kept. We have made that place into a small museum. We have opened that space to all the students.
Whoever comes here gets inspiration from the thoughts of Bhagat Singh.
What was the effect of Corona on the university?
We had to face this crisis, we lost many of our good teachers and students. During this crisis, this university took many important steps for the service of its students and society. It was a very painful time. This shows that this type of crisis can come before us at any time. We should be mentally prepared to fight with such crises. In view of this crisis, there is a need to further strengthen the health infrastructure
in the university.
Now there is a talk that students should be made job creators from job seekers. What is DU doing about this?
It is a very good thing that students should be made job creators from job seekers. Right now we are starting a Section 8 company. What that company will do is to run the business incubator where children will be given training to become entrepreneurs. They will be told how to start a company. We wish that every college should have an incubator. A new curriculum has been created for undergraduates that is designed to make them entrepreneurs. We would expect most kids to take this curriculum on track and work on new business concepts.
What are the reactions of teachers and students on New Education Policy?
Look, the students are very happy with NEP. This New Education Policy is in the interest of the students. It gives choice to students. Suppose someone took admission in MSC or Physics Honors yet he can do a minor in Psychology. Can do Geography or in any other discipline. Can do Entrepreneurship. This NEP gives flexibility to the students so that they can pursue their degree in any subject. This will be of great interest to the students as it will also have value based courses, internship, general elective, language based courses. This would prove to be a good arrangement. Delhi University is playing an important role in the implementation of the New Education Policy. The teachers of the college are also very happy about this. Initially, the teachers felt that due to its implementation, the workload would be reduced. Regarding this, we told all the teachers that it is not a matter of work load. We told the teachers that this new education policy is being implemented so that the workload of the students is stable. After this the teachers also understood that this is a good initiative which should be welcomed.
‘NEP gives flexibility to the students so that they can pursue their degree in any subject. This will be of great interest to the students as it will also have value based courses, internship, general elective, language based courses’
At the centenary celebrations of Delhi University, the Vice President had said that the elementary education of children should be in their mother tongue. What is your take on this?
It is good if the children’s early education is in their mother tongue. People studying their mother tongue in the country have become big scientists. Many engineers have become doctors. All such people are doing great work.
What are the plans for the future? What new courses are being started?
We are going to start many new courses. Within the Faculty of Technology are going to start B Tech Electronics & Communication, Electrical Engineering and B Tech Computer Science Engineering. Some courses will also start in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. Our School of Open Learning is also bringing many good professional courses for the children. We believe that we need to work harder so that we can come to 200 universities of the world within next 10-15 years. The whole country expects from us about this. Whenever it comes to ranking the best university in the world. Then no university in India is able to join it. We have the ability and the courage to do it. For this we should work better. We will definitely get success in this, Delhi University will be one of the best 200 universities in the world on one day.