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DCE- DTU Controversy - An Alumnus' Perspective

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It has turned into a fortress. From the looks of it more than 300 cops have been deployed. In its almost 60 year history, that too in the middle of the internal examinations, for the first time  Delhi College of Engineering is witnessing a student strike!

In this post I do not intend to focus on facts. This is an attempt at reasoning out why the things are the way they are currently. At the same time I do not consider myself important enough to stop myself from commenting on this situation with a little bit of humour. I will not make any attempt to be politically correct:).

Before I start, following is the list of incidents that I know of or have been told by other people.

  1. The apparent crux of the matter is that DTU was formed without holding any proper consultation with all the stake holders, including the students and the lower faculty.
  2. Two students both from the Civil Engineering Department Mr Ravi Shekhar who is also the Student President and Mr Nitin Baraia have been expelled.
  3. Two teachers without any enquiry/committee have been suspended. Those two teachers are Mr N.K Bhagat from the Electrical Engineering Department and Mr Naresh Kumar from the Civil Engineering.
  4. Holi Ban - While the VC celebrated Holi in the front yard of his Govt Bungalow within the campus. He imposed a complete ban on students celebrating Holi.
  5. Students are united. This came as a complete surprise to me. I happened to visit the college on the first day of mid-semester examinations and out of more than 1500, the number of students that appeared in the morning session was less than 10. LESS THAN 10! Throughout my under-grad I never imagined this could be pulled off.
  6. Currently the faculty is keeping silent and has not come out and taken a stand. I think this gives certain validity to the claims students are making.

I slogged for almost two years to get an admission to what I thought was one of the most reputed Engineering colleges of the country. But what I saw when I came in was a reality check! Under-staffed faculty, inefficient administrative staff, constant rebuke were the norm.

Every year, the time of hostel admissions was scary. I always had my fingers crossed, hoping that the college authorities had not come up with a criteria that disqualified me from availing the hostel facilities. I would pray that the folks responsible for the allotment of the hostel had not misplaced my form. My situation in hostel allotment procedure was way better than many students because my grades were above average(Yes! Grades were a criteria in hostel allotment) and on top of it I knew people at the right places in case the need arose.

The situation of the library was pathetic. The front desk staff was anything but helpful. I used to celebrate if my work there got done in the first attempt. They had the capability to look at me in a way which at times made me think how lucky I was to get into DCE despite being so stupid. While IITs had libraries which were open for 24 hours, we were not trustworthy enough to be given such facilities.

The computer center was opened with a lot of fanfare, but getting to use it was an exercise that required you giving up a little bit of your dignity. We got to hear of colleges where students were responsible enough to run entire labs, while in our college we were made to believe that we are not good enough to even use the computers because apparantely some students amongst were thieves of highest order. The center had to be protected from them at all costs. The focus was on buying and then locking the equipment in, rather than putting it in the hands of the students.

The best time was the placement time. No matter how good you are, you can pretty much forget about the placements if you have managed to get into the bad books of the Head of the Training and Placement Department. Committing the mistake of being the favourite of none other than our Principal, one of my best friends, managed to do just that. Throughout the year he avoided as much as walking down the same path as our T&P Head. Luckily, he had managed to get a job before he managed to be liked by the Principal. (There is no attempt at humour in the above story. When I say favourite I mean genuinely favourite/fond etc)

Oral Examinations during the practicals had become a farce. My studying for them was dependent on me knowing which teacher was taking it. There was absolutely no-point in studying for it in case of certain faculty members. These tests were a lesson in humiliation, for a few of us sometimes, and for a few of us all the times. Being an unknown entity was a virtue. The opaqueness of the examination procedure made demons out of certain faculty members. I made an extra effort to make sure they do not know me.

Exaggeration and big scale corruption was the norm rather than exception.The lack of transparency made you get that sinking feeling. The students who had had a rough situation with the administration staff were pitied or laughed at. In short, you always hoped that there would not come a time where you had to deal with the college authorities. There was no limit to my happiness when I realised that I had managed to graduate without any major incidents!

I think a majority of the students had to deal with what I said. Yet, all of us together never had the courage or the unity to do anything. We were resigned,cynical and too scared of supplies, detentions and getting fired from the hostel to do anything about it. One can also say that we were too focussed on getting admissions to foreign universities or landing top jobs to be bothered by such menial problems.

I guess there comes a time when water crosses the bridge. I guess I always knew that there will come a time when something will give in.  I guess there can always be 1 incident which will precipitate years of resentment and frustation. It can be the Principal setting up a committee on 2 students, It can be the authorities banning the celebration of Holi or it can be the higher authorities converting Delhi College of Engineering into Delhi Technical University, overnight!

I feel that the media is unable to portray the core issues appropriately.This has nothing to do with the capability of the media. The issues the students bring up in the media seem trivial. It is because this entire issue is complex and needs to be looked into in its entirety.  It might happen that this struggle dies down, and 20 years down, we see even our children sacrifice 2 years of their lives to get admitted to what comes to be known as DTU. But I sincerely hope that this protest gives all the stake holders an opportunity to introspect. To think whether DCE becoming a deemed university was really the major issue or whether it was simply a manifestation of all the resentment and frustation which almost all of us have come to associate with our lives at our beloved Delhi College of Engineering.

On a different note, I have always felt that our current VC is a man of vision and despite all the fallacies one of the most able administrators I can think of. I would like to imagine that the actual reasons for him taking this decision were self-less and for the greater good and not selfish as being pointed out in the media. In the current scenario I believe the only fitting response from him would be to give up his chair, on the condition that some one else is allowed to carry out his vision.

Shekhar Mittal
Batch of 2007

P.S.-1 Just to clarify my grades were respectable. :)
P.S.-2 It will be good fun if more people can comment about their fears in DCE.
P.S.-3 The reason I went to college today was to collect my degree.



meghapunjani's picture

Great post! True, we and

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Great post! True, we and infact the real stakeholders need to take a consummate view. No doubt that the VC is a great visionary along with his fallacies -  a big male chauvinist  and an orthodox - but since such serious doubts have been raised, there ought to be a third party intervention and only once all the allegations have been investigated should he be returning to his post.

Today's Media mentions

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I have a feeling that this campaign has the support of Times of India, while the Hindustan Times is refraining from supporting the students. These are the two articles published in Times of India today

DTU crisis deepens, students skip exams ----


Big league dreams dashed with erosion of brand DCE---



Naveen's picture

DCE - Fine Writeup

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Your post made very interseting reading - hats off to the students who are protesting unitedly. Lack of transparency & unfair /sub-standard procedures cannot continue for long anywhere. Added to this, it is clear that strong-arm tactics were also being used !

Atul's picture


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 dear shekhar,


i don't understand what u really want, u r cribbing about the old DCE days and same time u r supporting the recent protests from the student community. It was a systemic failure that we were facing in our time being an engineering college under DU was the main reason behind all the mess in the campus, being n autonomous college i think we can really bring in some changes. I truly support the recent protests in Delhi, but really dont understand why want to go back to the dce DAYZ, i think autonomy is very important for the functioning of an engg college in India.

P.S.1.  I was not a good student. graduated with just 61% aggregate, now in ahmedabad.

P.S.2   not been college since 2007.


sorry for some arbit thoughts..........


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Please do not be apologetic about your thoughts.

I do not think that I am in a position where I can want anything or what I want really matters. I was reading about the protests in the papers and was not able to understand the reasons for whatever was happening. Visiting the college brought back all the old memories, gave me a clearer picture and made me resentful. I just wanted to let it out.

My intention was not to crib at all. I think the DCE-DTU controversy is just a trigger. It is simply an issue around which years of frustration is being let out.  

Autonomy or No Autonomy, things won't really change till the attitude of the higher authorities changes. I consider it even more dangerous that people with inappropriate attitude have autonomy in carrying out their roles and responsibilities. I guess you are right that our college needs more autonomy, but what I am scared of is students facing even more high handedness than what you and I were used to. The thought scares me. Having a system of checks and balances is essential and from what I have heard, in the new system too few people had too much power.

@Naveen: Thanks! I am very surprised myself.



diptendra's picture

Nice analysis

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Hey Shekhar,

Nice to hear from you after such a long time.

Its a nice analytical writeup.

There's no denying the fact that the current VC and our ex-principal was in a way responsible for creating "Brand DCE" and its really sad to see it getting destroyed, whatever the reasons may be. In any protest/ agitation, both the parties are in some way or the other responsible for the happenings and it'll be unjust to put the entire balme either on Prof. P.B. Sharma or the students. But somehow, I feel that the current bunch of students studying in DCE have been examplary by the unity and solidarity they have shown for this cause. This had quintessentially been lacking in DCE when we were there as students. We were unable to strictly enforce a mass-bunk; forget anything bigger and more serious!!

One thing that DCE boasts about is its alumni base and the time had come when they need to get their act together and initate a peaceful solution to the standoff. Many alumni are in positions of infulence and they should be proactive to initate a solution. That's the last thing that we can do to save our beloved college where we spent the best four years of our lives..

Its time alumni gets itself counted!

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The students have pulled off something which we never even imagined. All of us have a tendency ( myself included) to pass judgements from the outside.

We tend to forget that these guys have their own constraints. Unlike us, these are the folks who are actually putting something at stake. It is commendable. I only hope that they get an honest and unbiased listening from the Delhi Government.


rahulkjha's picture

Most of things have been

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Most of things have been said. I have only one correction:

...I had managed to graduate without any major incidents...

Really? Have you forgotten the wall?

What wall?

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When I was fired from the hostel? aah...such fond memories :P -Shekhar

Atul's picture

Gushoww guyss

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Rupesh's picture


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It is time to give the meritorious students their due in terms of all facilities including infrastructure and services. I am from 1982 batch and trust me the problems at DCE are nothing new even now. I really imagined that the problems would have gone away with the new campus at Rohini. It is really becoming a great rip off.

The institution may have any name but the multiplicity of authorities must go away else DCE  should be merged with IIT Delhi. DTU can be a new university for Delhi Government ab initio, Let them also come to know what trash they can create with the typical bureaucracy.

pawan001's picture

Corporatisation of Higher Education

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Now a days education sector is a trillion dollar industry. It is a service sector industry in the area of education as service with a huge global market in which students, teachers and non- teaching employee constitute resources for profit generation. So the concepts of marketing are also applicable. The organizations have to market their product and themselves in order to survive. In this industry the students are the customers, the teachers are the service providers and the institutions are organizers or marketers and teaching-learning process is no longer for the building of a nation but a business for profit making. Education at all levels, will continue to grow, because it cultivates the human mind and makes people important and useful in the all round development of a country, however for the corporate sector it will grow as a big service industry. Predatory and powerful MNCs are targeting public education, particularly higher education, for profit- making. Though predominantly a government supported service most governments are as consequences of neo-liberal economic reforms, withdrawing from it. The government of India through extensive privatization, commercialization and deregulation is encouraging this process. comment guidelines

Posting Guidelines apply for comments as well. No foul language, hate mongering or personal attacks. If criticizing third person or an authority, you must be fact based, as constructive as possible, and use gentle words. Avoid going off-topic no matter how nice your comment is. Moderators reserve the right to either edit or simply delete comments that don't meet these guidelines. If you are nice enough to realize you violated the guidelines, please save Moderators some time by editing and fixing yourself. Thanks!

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