press club of india, Indian Tehalka News
There is no place that exudes as much history in the city as the areas in and around Delhi University’s North Campus. Founded in 1922 with three colleges, the university itself has grown since then, spreading out to the East, West, and South of the Capital.
However, the North Campus has remained at the heart of the university with change as its constant companion, especially over the last decade or so. The Hindu has de-constructed a bit of the change as seen through the eyes of some who continue to live or go to work there every day.
“I have been walking to work every day since the 60’s. Before, anyone could walk without fear at any time of the day. Now, you have to be frightened of traffic and the rising crimes have made it impossible to walk anywhere after a certain time,” says Ramjas College principal Rajendra Prasad, who remembers having, “14, Vice-Regal Lodge,” as his home address.
There were houses then for professors like his father in and around what are now the administration and examination departments within the enclosure that also houses the Vice-Regal Lodge, currently the Vice-Chancellor’s office.
This massive white building was once the seat of power in the whole country, housing the Viceroy before the Rashtrapati Bhavan was built.
It was handed over to the university in the early 1930’s and since then has served many purposes, undergoing significant changes every time a new Vice-Chancellor came to power.
Last year, a song and light show in front of the Vice-Regal Lodge during the university’s annual festival was instituted.
“A few years ago, there were no barricades around this building. It was just there like any other university building. Anyone could just walk in and ask for an appointment. It was not very grand either,” says Abha Dev Habib, a physics teacher, who has taken part in a lot of protests against the university administration.
The lodge, also known as the “V-C’s office,” now also serves as “go to the barricades,” for issues concerning students and teachers .
The protesters are usually turned away or stopped before they can even enter the first set of concrete gates that form the entrance to the lodge.
Because, to reach this building from the main entrance that is in front of the ridge area, one has to first pass big gates that are built into the concrete walls that enclose the administration buildings, the examination department, and then a big garden, half of which is reserved for the lodge that is again enclosed within a black wrought-iron compound that runs around the length and breath of the building.
This is the case with most university buildings these days. Many of them have been closed and activities of all kinds are monitored by CCTV cameras.
“There used to be a big ground where everyone used to come and jog or play games or generally just hang around. Inter-college sports competitions were also held here. This place was acquired during the commonwealth games and made into a rugby stadium and a sports complex. Rugby is not a sport that most people play here and the sports stadium can only be entered by the payment of a fee. When a big group of students wants to have an informal game, not everyone is willing to pay money for it. Also, you do not go by yourself to a playground. Some portions of the stadium are also used for the cluster innovation centre. Very few students know what this big complex in the middle of the university is for. This is the saddest change yet,” says Sunny Kumar, student in 2008, and teacher in 2014.
Some of the recent changes to the buildings have not been all bad, admit many. “The arts faculty was once not enclosed; you could go directly to the departments there. The architecture of this whole place has changed for the better, even with all the concrete walls. There are now better toilet facilities for women and we even have a place to protest in front of the gates. However, with better facilities there has been a parallel decrease in accessibility to many of these facilities for both students and teachers,” says Delhi University Teachers’ Association president Nandita Narain, explaining how in the past rooms and other halls in the departments and colleges were made available for seminars free of cost.
“Now, we are either denied permission or are told to deposit a huge fee,” she adds.
Apart from the visible increase in security men and the system of authenticating your identity wherever you may choose to go, the biggest downside to the changes has been the reduction of public spaces to just sit and do “nothing.”
Sitting on lawns in big groups is all part of the college or university life, but this is a luxury that is no longer available not just to students but even teachers. “We are usually told to get up if we are sitting in groups of more than four or five in many of the lawns of the university,” added Ms. Narain.
This is a common complaint from students, who say that even in their own colleges, the lawns are just to see and not sit on.
From : The Hindu