Dyal Singh College is a part of University of Delhi since 1959. It was listed as one of the top 10 colleges in India by the Ministry of HRD. It was named after Sardar Dyal Singh Manjithia, the first freedom fighter of Punjab and the founder of The Punjab National Bank, The Tribune (a reputed newspaper) and Dyal Singh College itself. The college has been functional in two shifts, morning and evening ever since it was established.
Recently, a 16-member Governing Body (GB) chaired by Amitabh Sinha, a BJP leader and a lawyer, has announced that the Evening College will be changed to a regular one and would be called “Vande Mataram College”. He said “they had to come up with a new and inspiring name”. Pawan Kumar Sharma, Principal of the Evening College, said that the name was a “tribute to the soldiers” and added that they chose this name to “remind our students of freedom struggle.”
The Principal also stated that “the new college will have better infrastructure and new courses” and that “we (college authorities) have been promised separate funds by the (HRD) Ministry.”
This step has drawn varying reactions from the students and teachers. The Evening College students have reportedly shown no objection to the renaming, as long as they are provided with new opportunities. The Morning College students have, however, expressed objection. As reported, they don’t mind renaming the college but are concerned about the re-allocation of their resources to the new college. They are particularly bothered by the college library being reduced to minimal and allocation of their existing college ground and auditorium to be snatched away, if the demarcation comes into existence.
Even after Amitabh Sinha has claimed to “have already built 28 extra rooms” when they “need only 22 for running the classes as of now”, a section of teachers has been protesting against the decision on the grounds that there isn’t enough space in the college to accommodate the students from Evening College during the day shift. The College premises also saw a protest organized by a group of students and teachers who allegedly tried to disrupt a GB meeting held on 20th of July this year on the same grounds.
Viraj Kafle, one of the teacher representatives in the GB, reportedly said “The only agenda discussed was the name proposed for the new college, which was Vande Mataram. I opposed this, as we first needed to decide where the new college would function, before we start naming it”. Sinha dismissed the opposition by saying that only a handful of people opposed the move. He further said “Whether it’s your own mother or Bharat Mata, mother is mother. Those who have a problem with paying obeisance to mother, there is a question mark on whether they are human beings or not.”
Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodiya reportedly said that BJP was still stuck in the past instead of making efforts to create a better future for the students. NSUI reacted to this by stating that BJP was imposing nationalism on students and issued a Press Release, as a reaction to the step saying that it “doesn’t agree with the Jhumla of renaming Dyal Singh College”. According to them, GB has teamed the college in a “hasty manner to distract students from actual questions of education governance” and listed the following points as mentioned:
1) The college sits on an 11-acre campus.
2) There are 6000 and 2500 students in the Morning and Evening colleges respectively.
3) The students in evening college have been promised a separate building but no progress is seen on that as of yet.
4) The annual exam happens in the college canteen, due to lack of space.
5) The college library can hardly accommodate 50 students.
6) In the classroom meant for 30 students, 70 students are forced to sit and attend their lectures.
7) Some classrooms are separated by steel cupboards instead of walls.
8) Sometimes the students have to attend their lectures by standing in the corridor.
The Press Release went on to say that a clear difference could be seen between the standards of education of Delhi and Gujrat and alleged the Vikas Model to be all about “repacking and renaming”. NSUI also pointed out that BJP-led NDA Government slashed a good 18% of education funding and blamed the UGC for capping Government funding, which would unavoidably lead to a fee hike across the country. They also responded to Sinha’s statement on respecting mothers by attacking “his own BJP-led NDA Government” by allegating them if having “stiffed poor mothers of their legal rights to paltry ‚Çπ6000 maternity benefit allowance” and further attacked PM Narendra Modi by stating that maternal mortality “has actually increased in Gujarat his own home state – which he has forgotten after becoming PM and now detests from talking about Gujrat Model.”
The release goes on by saying that members of NSUI will “welcome this new trend of renaming colleges”, provided that students are given up-to-the-mark educational facilities. They also say that by this change of name, the GB is also “disgracing the legacy of Punjab’s first freedom fighter Sardar Dyal Singh Manjithia”, who was the founder of The Punjab National Bank, The Tribune and Dyal Singh College itself.
They conclude by saying that before “such exercises of renaming are done”, the Student Union demands the authorities to provide the students with “proper infrastructure” first.