It has been 40 years since I left Delhi University after my PG. But every year at this time of the year when Delhi University re- opens I am tempted to revisit my alma mater where I spent probably the best and the most productive years of my life.
However snobbish I may sound, for us at Hindu College, the University meant Hindu and St.Stephens. Other colleges were nowhere in the picture. Be it cricket, lawn tennis, debating or academics the competition was always between Hindu and St. Stephens.
Reminds me of an incident when I and a friend from Stephens who traveled with me daily in the DTC bus (there were no metros then) got down from the bus we saw the students of Ramjas College practicing cricket.
My Stephanian friend suddenly commented “I don’t know why they are wasting their time. Ultimately the finals will be between Hindu and Stephens.”
Today life for students seems so much easier. Most of us had to get into jam- packed DTC buses, many times from the driver’s seat and change buses twice to reach the University. Cars were very few even though mobikes without silencers were quite a nuisance.
For the way back we had no option but to wait for the U- Specials which went to various destinations the city. But my class mates in MA who came to University from long distance colleges like Lady Sri Ram College (LSR) preferred to take lifts to get back home much against our advice to be careful.
Much has changed in the Delhi University besides the transport system. I am not talking here of the controversial Four Year degree course which was taken off as arbitrarily as it was imposed in an indecent haste last year by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Dinesh Singh.
The Hindu College like every other college now has a regular police presence at its gate. This was anathema in our times and student leaders and teachers felt equally strongly that the police had no business to be in the campus, unless they were called in.
I found the acting Principal of the College Dr.Praduman Kumar keeping a close watch on the entire college through CCTV cameras from his room. When asked about this as well as the grills installed in the College giving it the look of a cage he said, “This is now mandatory as instructed by the Police.”
The staff-room is more than full with teachers although I don’t hear as much about the achievements of the College as during my times. The Fifth Pay Commission has raised only the salaries of teachers not their commitment and dedication. Even if this is a part of a general slide towards mediocrity of our higher education system I do feel something breaking inside because I am still very proud of being a Hinduite.
Besides the grills, a lot of walls have come up literally, in the DU campus which was an open and airy place once upon a time. For instance, we used to walk into Delhi School of Economics through a broken wall to bring back our teachers who bunked classes to have coffee in the D School! But now there is a solid brick wall to separate the two adjacent buildings.
I could go and on with the artificial changes that have come up in these 40 years.
But what ultimately over powers my senses are the memories of the place where I started writing poetry, where I took part in almost every activity including laying down the footpath outside the library as part of the activities of the National Service Scheme (NSS).
No one can take way those memories from me thankfully.
By: Amitabh Srivastava
Related articles across the web