Days after a physics professor from Kirori Mal College coined a derogatory term to suggest an “infiltration” of students from Kerala into the Delhi University (DU), hundreds of students protested outside the arts faculty building on Friday to send the message that the central university is “accessible to all”.
Amid the ongoing admission process for the undergraduate courses in DU, professor Rakesh Pandey in a Facebook post earlier this week had suggested a conspiracy by the Kerala State Board, calling it “marks jihad”.
“A college had to admit 26 students in a course having 20 seats only because they all had 100 percent marks from Kerala board. For [the] last few years, Kerala board is implementing - #MarksJihad,” Pandey, a member of the RSS-backed National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF), had posted.
Led by the Students Federation of India (SFI), the DU students condemned the controversial remarks and demanded that the university administration should not discriminate against students of other state boards seeking admission.
The SFI had alleged on Thursday that certain DU colleges are “rejecting applications” of top scorers from the Kerala State Board without any reason.
The political row over the admission process in DU this year was triggered after reports that the university is staring at a regional skew vis-a-vis student representation in courses for which 100% marks are required in the 12th board examinations.
The intermediate exams, conducted last year under the shadow of COVID-19, had resulted in unprecedented 70,000-plus CBSE students, which is about the same as the total number of undergraduate seats in DU, scoring more than 95% marks.
Similarly, Kerala State Board too had decided to change the exam pattern to support students to score well against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Given this, The Indian Express on Wednesday reported that in, at least, three of the 10 programmes with 100% cut-off marks in DU this year, 95% of the seats are being filled by students of the Kerala State Board.
The trend prompted some to claim that there is a “conspiracy”. Pandey had earlier claimed that there has been an “infiltration of students from Kerala into DU”. However, the SFI rejected his claims calling it nothing but an attempt to “antagonise” the Kerala State Board.
“We condemn the communal remarks made by the DU professor and demand immediate action against him,” Akhil KM, convenor, SFI-DU, told Newsclick over the phone. “Such remarks are often made to divert the attention of students from the real issues.”
Instead of paying attention to the “lack of enough hostel accommodation, which forces more than 90% of the students to stay outside the campus despite paying high fees”, said Akhil, “the students are being told that the seats ‘grabbed’ by students from the state boards is the cause of their problems.”
Unnimaya, state committee member, SFI and co-convenor of SFI-DU, Lady Sri Ram College, told Newsclick that students from the state boards have faced similar “discrimination” in the past as well. It was only when the student community protested and the administration intervened, that DU took measures.
“What we are seeing right now in the form of discriminatory remarks against the Kerala Board students is nothing now,” Unnimaya said. “This is condemnable. DU is a central university and is accessible to all the students across the country irrespective of their examination boards—and it must continue to remain so.”
To be sure, the DU administration, in a statement released on Thursday, refuted “favouring” candidates from few selected boards following the new reports. Condemning the same, the statement, signed by the DU registrar, stated: “Being a central University, the University of Delhi equally and uniformly values the academic credentials of all the candidates irrespective of their states and school boards. This year too, equal opportunity was maintained by accepting applications based on the merit only.”
The DU further informed that by the end of Thursday, 31,172 candidates from the CBSE Board, 2,365 from the Kerala Board of Higher Secondary Education and 1,540 from the Board of School Education in Haryana had been admitted to the university. This year, 60,904 candidates applied in the colleges in the first cut-off list out of which 46,054 were from the CBSE Board.