Student Union aspirants not interested in revamped Buddhist Studies

by Vasundhara Koshy, Express India, Sept 5, 2006

New Delhi, India -- Buddhist Studies had always been a favourite with prospective DUSU (Delhu University Student's Union) office holders, especially for NSUI and ABVP candidates. This Masters programme, which originally consisted of only four papers and there were no attendance compulsions, was most sought after by politically active students. But things have changed now.

After the course was restructured in 2002, its popularity has dropped. While in 2005 there was not a single candidate from this course, this year Vikas Dahiya (ABVP), a candidate for the post of Vice-President, is the only major candidate from this course.

The Department of Buddhist Studies decided to put an end to what they referred to as an “infamous affiliation”, by restructuring its course four years back. A system of internal assessment was introduced wherein 25% of students’ grades are based on regular assignments. Also, now a student needs to maintain at least 66.67% attendance.

Dr Subhra Barua Pavagadhi, a Lecturer in the Department said, “we realised that the course was considered easy and was a big attraction for politically active students who just wanted to get enrolled in any course so that they could contest elections. In an attempt to distance ourselves further, this year we increased the number of papers again. Instead of eight papers in two years, the course now requires students to clear 16 papers. This is in tune with most MA degrees of the University.”

Despite the attendance requirement, and increase in the number of papers, students state that they hardly see Vikas Dahiya in the department. A student of MA (P) Buddhist Studies said, “even though classes are being held in full swing, I have never seen Vikas in class. He must be busy with his election campaign.”

Dr Pavagadhi added that the course is not an easy one, despite notions to the contrary. “The department wants students who are serious in their academic pursuits. Applicants have to clear an entrance examination,” Pavagadhi said.

Amrita Dhawan, NSUI’s presidential candidate, had also eyed the course but failed to clear the entrance examination in 2005. Dhawan then applied for BA in History (Hons) from Bharati College. She had already completed her B Com (Hons).

Dhawan, however, denied that she failed to clear the entrance test. “ABVP pressurised DU authorities into not giving me admission. I am a good student and would have cleared the entrance for Buddhist Studies.”

In the recent past, DUSU representatives such as Neetu Verma, (NSUI) President-2001, Amit Kaushik, (INSO), member of the Executive Council 2002, had done their Masters from Department of Buddhist Studies. Pragati Badhwar (ABVP) who contested for the post of president in 2001 was also enrolled in this course.
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