Student Unrest in Uttarakhand Could Snowball into Serious Agitation

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Dehra Dun : There is a simmering discontent amongst the student community in this capital city of Uttarakhand, which could snowball into a serious agitation if the state government does not come out with a tangible solution of providing admission to the large student community that may be left out of colleges following the directives of the Nainital High Court on merit-based admission and a cap on the intake.

Nainital High Court

Nainital High Court

Though chief minister Harish Rawat and his senior cabinet colleague, Indira Hridesh have time and again reiterated that the state government options is mulling the various options before it, including starting evening shifts in various colleges to absorb the left iver students, but it has yet to come out with any concrete solution that is acceptable to the large student community that is up in arms and has literally stopped admissions in the oldest college of the city.

Ironically this College has the dubious distinction of yielding to pressure by the student leaders and accommodating as many as about 35,000 students though it has the infrastructure for just about 12,000. It is said to be a major reason for studies suffering and even the seriously inclined students suffered as the teaching community could not cope up with the large number of students in the classes and could not give much attention to studies despite their best intentions and efforts.

This is perhaps why even the teaching community is supportive of the directives of the Nainital High Court on merit-based admissions and a cap on the number of intake.

According to rough estimates the teacher-student ratio in the college works out to over 1:250 as against the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) rules of 1:70. One can but imagine the quality of education that was imparted with this skewed up teacher-student ratio.

The principal of the college, while not commenting on why such large number of students were admitted when it did not have the wherewithal to impart quality education to them, admitted that there would be a great improvement in the education if admission is done against the approved sanctioned seats. However, he hastened to add that the College was just following the instructions of the Nainital High Court as far as admissions for the current session was concerned.

Even as the state government is holding discussions to find a way out of the current imbroglio so that there are no ruffled feathers as far as the large student community is concerned, the student leaders pointed out that under the merit-based admissions, the students from the Uttarakhand Education Board, who had studied in the schools in the far-flung interiors of the state, were losing out to their brethren from the English medium schools in the cities.

According to a student leader:

In the merit-based system students who have passed out from the ICSE and CBSE boards have an edge over those who passed out from the Uttarakhand Education Board. Moreover most of these students do not have colleges in their respective villages and towns and are totally dependent upon the colleges located in Dehra Dun or elsewhere in the state. Where will they go for admission and their entire future is at stake

He said that the options of knocking on the doors of the judiciary is also being looked into and a delegation has gone to Nainital to file a petition in the High Court for a review of the earlier decision, as it is being generally felt that the colleges and the state government did not contest the matter with the interest of the student community in mind.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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