Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trouble in Paradise...

I was thinking of writing about my current favourite TV series 'The Big Bang Theory' but something much closer to my heart and frankly a bit disturbing has come to my notice.

I have to warn you that this is a rather topical serious post and not funny at all. So you may want to get your laughs elsewhere this time...

As many of you would know, I studied for my undergraduate engineering degree at Delhi College of Engineering (DCE). It is one of the top engineering colleges in the country and I am genuinely proud to be an alumnus of the college. And this is not just a jingoistic 'my college' syndrome. I have seen people's eyes widen and a drop in the volume at which they speak to you when they realize you have a strong undergrad degree from DCE. I know for a fact that the college and it's reputation have opened opportunities that would certainly not have opened up otherwise.

More importantly I have had life lessons there which have moulded the person I am and the way I think and react. I have made some of my best friends there and it is something to say that these friends are still going strong 7 years after we graduated. I have seniors who I still go to for any advice pertaining to professional or personal life.

But there is trouble brewing in paradise.

A year after I graduated a new principal joined DCE. He had been the principal earlier but was coming back from retirement. Since he came some amazing things happened for us alumni. We were seeing excellent news coming out of the college. Students were doing dedicated research, writing papers, media was covering students' participation in conferences, building cars, experimental submarines, bio-fuel etc etc. I was extremely happy to see this because if there was something missing in my four years it was this quest for creating something new.

Visiting DCE during this phase was a bit disturbing though. Hostels had sign in- sign out times, the campus buildings were off limits in the late evenings, students were not expected to move around too much, the baba with maggi outside the hostels was closing down at 10-11 as opposed to 2-3 am like he used to, students were roaming around with books even when there were no exams in the offing, and there was even an unsaid rule against girls and boys hanging out on the legendary road outside the girl's hostel.

But maybe these were acceptable changes. Discipline was certainly required to guide the students towards engineering excellence, except the girl-boy rule - that's just stupid, and the results were showing.

But now things are changing in a way which I feel could be detrimental to the institution. There was a rushed bill passed, allegedly without a lot of discussion with either the faculty or the students, for the conversion of DCE to a state university called Delhi Technical University. There are wide scale protests against this by students and faculty members, the details are at :

This may have some hysteria and name calling but this one is pretty clear about the concerns which to me seem very genuine:

My opinion on this entire issue is that DCE needs to remain DCE. It has an established reputation in the industry for a reason. You cannot make getting into DCE a piece of cake by increasing the number of seats (I heard numbers like 10,000 seats - that'd just be crazy). This cannot be made a place to just churn out engineers - it has to be a place where there are adequate resources for path breaking stuff for the smart people who are passionate about engineering and not just looking for a job in a bank!

I also think that if being a part of Delhi University is holding it back then the only logical path for an institution of it's calibre is to make it an IIT. I don't know how easy or difficult it is to do that but really a move downwards would be extremely disappointing.



तुषार वर्मा said...

i thought this one was about the other trouble in your paradise.

Ritwik Bisaria said...

I was in a recent silent protest march this Sunday

It's a pain ...... parents joined the efforts ...... parents get their children to join college thinking DCE brand but what they get DTU.
Its a pain!!