Remove the chairman of Dyal Singh College
It is not enough for the HRD minister to assure that the name of Dyal Singh College will not be changed. He must direct DU to remove forthwith the obnoxious chairman of the Governing body
An unusual, in fact illegal, Governing body meeting on November 17 concluded with an announcement by the chairman that Dyal Singh College ( Evening), a constituent college of Delhi University, would be renamed ‘ Vande Mataram College’.
Ugly, unpleasant scenes preceded the announcement with the Chairman threatening students protesting against bifurcation of the college with expulsion. Teachers and the chairman, a BJP leader and a Supreme Court lawyer, got into an unsavoury slanging match with the teachers who objected to his conduct and the videos as usual made the rounds of social media.
A month later, following protests by people in Punjab, by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Members of Parliament among others, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has announced that the Government did not agree with the decision of the Governing Body and the name of the college would not change. On the same day, however, the chairman of the college governing body gave a contradictory statement.
Dyal Singh Majithia, who had died at a young age of 50 in 1898, had willed his substantial wealth to a public trust , leaving only a small portion to his family. One of the founders of the Punjab National Bank, he had also seen the establishment of The Tribune Group of newspapers in his lifetime. He also wanted the Trust to set up secular colleges and public libraries.
Ironically, the college and the public library named after him in Lahore continue to bear his name even after the college was taken over by the Pakistan Government. But in New Delhi, BJP leaders and non-academics who now control college Governing bodies, appear determined to drop the name of the great philanthropist.
Under the Modi Government, Delhi University has overlooked the former Vice Chancellor of JNU, Prof S K Sopory and JNU Prof Ira Bhaskar while filling up nominated posts with nominees of the RSS, BJP and the Government.
The present Chairman of the Governing body of Dyal Singh College is Amitabh Sinha has reduced the principal of the morning College who is the ex officio member secretary of the governing body virtually redundant. Under Sinha’s chairmanship, the principal has been reduced to a nobody. Indeed, the chairman has, for the first time in the 107 year old history of the college, has forcibly occupied the conference room and put his name plate there. The room had names of all the former Chairmen and former Principals of the college on the wall.
College officials are scared to even open that room as the Chairman misbehaves with officials and staff, gets their signature on attendance sheets of the Governing body meeting and holds indoor meetings with only some members of his choice in the bolted room, keeping many members sit out . Minutes are prepared in the absence of the member secretary , who is later forced to own up the minutes and sign on them.
Even the meeting held on 17thNovember, when the name of Dyal Singh College (Evening) was illegally changed to ‘Vande Matram’ College, the member secretary was not allowed to sit in the meeting.
Earlier, while suspending a more than 70 per cent physically charged assistant Professor of Hindi Dr Kedarnath Mondal, the principal was not allowed even to indicate that suspension of any teacher cannot be done without Delhi University’s approval, as the college is a constituent college of the University. Dr. Mondal was not issued any show-cause notice and was straight way suspended, just because as a Dalit literary critic, he had made some remarks about the goddess Durga, as happened in the case of film S...Durga!
Why is the Delhi University allowing closure of the evening college at all? There are a number of working people, including women, who continue their higher education after office hours. There has been no complaint from women students facing any problem in evening time in this prime South Delhi area college.
Technically, the land and building of the college is still in the name of the Dyal Singh Trust Society and as per DU’s agreement with the Society, the name of the College on this land cannot be changed.
The only appropriate step in the present circumstances is to remove this non-academic chairman of the governing body of the college and replace him with some respectable educationist, who could honour the legacy of Dyal Singh Majithia, honour the agreement between Dyal Singh Trust Society and DU and win the trust of students and staff of the college.
Delhi University or the Chairman of the college can surely set up another college in a different location and name it as they wish to, but people of Punjab will not allow this chairman to harm Dyal Singh Majithia’s legacy in any form.
Dr Chaman Lal retired from Jawaharlal Nehru University and is an eminent academic, author and translator. He is an authority on Bhagat Singh