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DU’s apathy: crippling condition of specially-abled students in Delhi University

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By Atul Mishra

In March 2012, a girl student with loco-motor disability was hit by a speeding bike while crossing the road near the central library in North Campus, Delhi University (DU). It undoubtedly became news but any tangible solution was never reached.

Recently enrolled in MA program at DU’s Faculty of Arts, Rachit Raj told NewsGram: “The English Department is on the first floor and every day a few students carry me and my wheelchair upstairs to the classroom which is very risky. I have complained to the Head of the English Department and went to the VC office as well many a times. Nobody listens and does anything.”

Now that the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections are less than a fortnight away, the infamous conditions of disabled students in DU should be unveiled. During the campaigns, party people talk profoundly about the plight of specially-abled students and their agendas to sort these blemishes out. But are things really sorted?

Photo credit: abilitykhabarnama.blogspot.com
Photo credit: abilitykhabarnama.blogspot.com

No matter what the officials, from dean to students’ union leaders, say, the challenged students are always in jeopardy. Be it academics or transportation they always face problems every day. As per DU record, there are around 1200 students with disabilities enrolled in the university under various programs. However, accessibility for students with disabilities still remains a major problem.

DU’s Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC) had prepared a detailed access audit report in 2007 of the availability of facilities for differently-abled students in all colleges and had even written to each of them in 2009 asking them to do the needful. Only 25 per cent of the colleges have implemented these norms so far. These include LSR, SRCC, Gargi College, Khalsa College, and Kamala Nehru College, among others.

Even after so many complaints, protests and audit reports, physically challenged students of more than 60 colleges of DU have to go through many problems.

A visually challenged student of Ramjas college, Ravi Gupta said, “Often I have to ask someone to read out the notice board for me. The officials in the administration always say they that will soon install Braille notice boards but the situation seems hopeless.”

The visually impaired students say department libraries are of no use to them. They do not have soft copies of books and scanners are only available at EOC.

Accessing those scanners is not possible considering even undergraduate students go there. And students from off-campus colleges will not come all the way to North Campus to use EOC scanners,” says visually impaired Jignesh Kumar.

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Many grievances like these have surfaced. The inability of the visually-impaired to borrow books from libraries as they are not suitably equipped, apathy of university’s Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC), which is mandated to try and create a level playing field for students such as these, and a general feeling that there’s no one to take care of the special needs. In more than half of the colleges of DU, students on wheel chairs have no ramps built for them, visually challenged do not have Braille notice boards, toilets are not differently-abled-friendly.

Under the University’s norms, all visually impaired students are to be provided with electronic reading devices by their respective colleges. The reality is that only a handful is provided to them. Most of them are subjected to procrastination by the staff.

No doubt, DU has been neglectful in full laxity in implementation of various programs in the past. Insufficient funds and communication gap between students and officials act as major impediments in DU’s progress. The audit reports and EOC are just utopian fantasies and not realities.

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Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

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Delhi University
India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.

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Listening for Well-being : Arun Maira Talks About a Democracy in Crisis, Unsafe Social Media and More in his Latest Book

Maira asserts that we must learn to listen more deeply to 'people who are not like us' in our country because of their history, their culture, their religion, or their race.

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Arun Maira
Arun Maira (extreme left), during a public event in 2009. Wikimedia
  • Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira’s latest book is titled ‘Listening for Well-Being’
  • Maira observes that physical and verbal violence in the world and on social media is continuously growing
  • He also highlights the importance of ‘hearing each other’ in order to create truly inclusive and democratic societies

New Delhi, September 5, 2017 : Former Planning Commission member Arun Maira contends that “physical violence” in the real world and “verbal violence” on social media against people whom “we do not approve of” are increasing today. With such trends on the rise, the very idea of democracy finds itself in a crisis.

The solution?

“We need to listen more deeply to people who are not like us,” said the much-respected management consultant, talking of his latest book, “Listening for Well-Being”, and sharing his perspective on a wide range of issues that he deals with.

“Violence by people against those they dislike, for whatever reason, is increasing. It has become dangerous to post a personal view on any matter on social media. Responses are abusive. There is no respect for another’s dignity. People are also repeatedly threatened with physical violence.”

He said that gangs of trolls go after their victims viciously. “Social media has become a very violent space. Like the streets of a run-down city at night… not a safe space to roam around in.”

At the same time, streets in the physical world are becoming less safe too. “Any car or truck on the road can suddenly become a weapon of mass destruction in a ‘civilised’ country: in London, Berlin, Nice, or Barcelona,” Maira told IANS in an interview.

Maira said that with the rise of right-wing parties that are racist and anti-immigrant, there is great concern in the Western democratic world — in the US, the UK and Europe — that democracy is in a crisis.

In the US, for example, supporters of Donald Trump, Maira said, believe only what Trump says and watch only the news channels that share a similar ideology. On the other side are large numbers of US citizens who don’t believe what Trump says but they too have their own preferred news sources.

“They should listen to each other, and understand each other’s concerns. Only then can the country be inclusive. And also truly democratic — which means that everyone has an equal stake and an equal voice,” he noted.

In “Listening for Well-Being” (Rupa/Rs 500/182 Pages), Arun Maira shows his readers ways to use the power of listening. He analyses the causes for the decline in listening and proposes solutions to increase its depth in private and public discourse.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a leading strategist, he emphasises that by listening deeply, especially to people who are not like us, we can create a more inclusive, just, harmonious and sustainable world for everyone.

But it would be wrong to say that the decline in listening is only restricted to the Western world.

“We have the same issues in India too. We are a country with many diverse people. We are proud of our diversity. However, for our country to be truly democratic, all people must feel they are equal citizens.

“The need for citizens to listen to each other is much greater in India than in any other country because we are the most diverse country, and we want to be democratic. So, we must learn to listen more deeply to ‘people who are not like us’ in our country because of their history, their culture, their religion, or their race,” he maintained.

Maira also said that India is a country with a very long and rich history. And within the present boundaries of India are diverse people, with different cultures, different religions, and of different races.

“So, we cannot put too sharp a definition on who is an ‘Indian’ — the language they must speak, the religion they must follow, or the customs they must adopt. Because, then we will exclude many who do not have the same profiles, and say they are not Indians. Thus we can falsely, and dangerously, divide the country into ‘real Indians’ and those who are supposedly non-Indians. Indeed, such forces are rising in India,” he added.

Maira, 74, hoped that all his readers will appreciate that listening is essential to improve the world for everyone. He also maintained that it is not a complete solution to any of the world’s complex problems but by listening to other points of view, we can prevent conflict and also devise better solutions.

Born in Lahore, Arun Maira received his M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Physics from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College. He has also authored two bestselling books previously, “Aeroplane While Flying: Reforming Institutions” and “Upstart in Government: Journeys of Change and Learning”. (IANS)

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Textbook advises Students to Write Emails as short as skirts, Stirs Controversy

A textbook for B Com written by an ex-prof of Delhi University says, “Email messages should be like skirts--short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover all the vital points.”

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Textbooks
Text books, Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 6, 2017: An outrage has been sparked by a BCom (Honours) textbook that tells students to write emails short enough to be interesting like skirts. The book, authored by CB Gupta, a former head of the commerce department of a Delhi University-affiliated college and titled ‘Basic Business Communication’ is widely prescribed to the students by the professors of BCom (Honours) in many colleges under the affiliation of DU.

The book has been in print since over a decade now. The controversial statement says, “Email messages should be like skirts–short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover all the vital points.”

According to an anonymous student, “some students from socially and economically weaker sections have a tendency to memorise everything written in the textbooks, without realizing that such analogies may legitimize casual sexism in our society. Thankfully, we are able to realize and question the reliability of such textbooks in our course. Why didn’t anyone question this statement in this book which is being reprinted since years?”

According to PTI reports, Professor CB Gupta, now a septuagenarian, expressed his regret for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments and he also said that the analogy was taken from an article by a foreign author. Gupta said that he has already deleted the statement from his book and will also advise the publisher to remove the content before the publication of the latest edition.

To answer the question on why such an analogy was made in the first place, Gupta admitted it to be a mistake on his part and added that he had resorted to an article of a foreign author for that particular analogy. Gupta said, “It was not to hurt anyone. I took the analogy from an article written by a foreign author.”

Recently, another similar outrage was created on social media by a class 12 physical education textbook that defined 36-24-36 to be the “best body shape for females”. Critics and educationists demanded this statement to be withdrawn.

In another such instance, a book, part of the Delhi University’s history curriculum had called Bhagat Singh a “revolutionary terrorist”. This prompted the family of the freedom fighter and national hero to discuss the issue with university authorities as well as the HRD ministry.

Recently, The Madras High Court had directed the CBSE for the removal of alleged objectionable content in a social science textbook for students of class 9 about the Nadar community.

A DU professor who intends to remain anonymous believes that a textbook should be neutral and provide balanced viewpoints. The rest should be left to the students to form an opinion. Hopefully, more awareness among textbook authors will be created by such controversies.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang