It’s terrible that the Members of Parliament of India can be moved like a herd on an issue of which they have little or no knowledge. Impressed by a misleading speech by Shiromani Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral, Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar has exceeded his brief to declare that the autonomous Delhi University has to put its decision of naming a college under its jurisdiction on hold. Reportedly, all the MPs present in the House on the occasion joined the chorus of ‘sympathising’ with an unfounded communal cause. It so happened that a lobby of the Dyal Singh College staff members roped in the SAD when they could think of no other way to halt the educational reform measures of the new governing body to cry foul over ‘hurt Sikh sentiments’. In order to rid thousands of students of the stigma of being enrolled in evening colleges, which have traditionally and unduly been considered inferior to their morning counterparts, the university had decided some years ago that all evening colleges under its remit had to be brought to the morning slot. However, doing this would mean two colleges bearing the same name running within one given compound, which was an untenable proposition. Hence, the evening section of the Deshbandhu College was named Ramanujan College and that of the Ram Lal College was named Aryabhatta College. Similarly, after adequate resources were allocated to the evening section of the Dyal Singh College and allotted day timings, it called for a new name. The governing body decided unanimously that it would thereafter be called Vandemataram Mahavidyalaya. That notwithstanding, what was called the Dyal Singh College remains Dyal Singh College and will remain so forever, the chairman of the governing body, Amitabh Sinha, has assured time and again publicly. Not giving two hoots to reason, however, a section of teachers of the older day college, led by an ignorance-feigning principal who had consented to the naming exercise at the governing body meet, began pamphleteering, claiming that the already ‘limited’ resources of their college were being ‘stretched thin’. Do they fear competition from the upcoming and promising new institution, given that the college was ranked, in April, among the top six DU colleges in a rating exercise by the MHRD? When the lobby’s whisper campaign did not work, they provoked a readily excitable Manjinder Singh Sirsa of the SAD who, in turn, approached the Badals of Punjab to intervene in the matter, given its ‘Sikh’ implications. Thereafter, Badal conveniently avoided a debate with the governing body chairman, while, in a sinister manner, inciting party MPs to raise the issue in Parliament during the winter session. Unfortunately, the ill-educated legislators did not care to note that no lesser than a gurudwaras committee had changed the name of the Khalsa College that used to bear the name of the venerable Guru Tegh Bahadur, which nobody had found an offensive act despite the guru’s unmatched sacrifice for this nation. If there is any section of society most hurt by the politicking over nomenclature, they are the uplifted students of the former evening college who were very happy on getting mainstreamed.
The stand the MPs led by the HRD minister have taken defies history, law as well as the relevant rules. First, social reformer Dyal Singh Majithia had ceased to be a Sikh long before his death, embracing the Brahmo faith during the final years of his life. Second, it was not he who had established the college; he couldn’t have as he had breathed his last in the late 19th century whereas the college named after him was established in the 1950s by a trust that bore his name. This trust proved so incompetent that it could not pay a meagre 5% of the running cost of the college even as the University Grants Commission was paying the remaining 95%. Due to its inability to pay the measly sum regularly, the University of Delhi took over the reins of the institution and, ever since, legally, the varsity has all the management rights of the college, including the right to change its name. Further, it is disconcerting that the invocation of the mother’s name should disturb anybody and, of all forces on earth, a government of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the political wing of the nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, should start dancing to the tunes of some mischievous elements at the expense of a nationalistic cause in a dark age when communists have been turning the country’s educational institutions into hubs of seditious activities. There cannot be a more appropriate cause for which Nagpur must intervene and make sense prevail on the political herd being choreographed by the Pied Pipers of Dyal Singh College.