With DU respect

Why does Manish Sisodia sound like Raj Thackeray? Delhi's strength is everyone can claim it as their own.

Nothing travels faster, it seems, than a bad and populist idea. By announcing that 90 per cent of the seats in 12 Delhi University colleges directly funded by Delhi will be reserved exclusively for residents, the new education minister, Manish Sisodia, has endorsed a small-minded proposal that was earlier supported by the BJP and Congress. Another set of colleges where the state has provided 50 per cent of the capital grant and pays recurring grants every year will also have to seal off half their admissions. In other words, if things go according to plan, roughly 12,000 seats across 28 colleges in Delhi University will become unavailable to general applicants.

The proposal to close its university's doors, in any manner, to "outsiders", does disservice to the very idea of Delhi. The city-state of Delhi is also the national capital and the varied talent that it draws from all corners of the country is a tribute to the city as well as its greatest strength. The large-hearted cosmopolitanism of this city of migrants sets it on par with metropolises like Bangalore and Mumbai. Before the AAP goes ahead with its misguided plan, it should look again at the voters, or even its own council of ministers, and ask just who the real "Dilliwallah" is.

Of course, the AAP is not the first to pander to the insecurities of those who may feel elbowed out or left behind in Delhi. In August last year, the high court took up a plea to reserve a certain proportion of seats in Delhi University for Delhi residents, and asked the state government to come up with a satisfactory solution in two months. The state BJP promptly made it a campaign issue, and in response the Sheila Dikshit government floated a plan in October, right before the election, to enact such a quota. But nothing stops Delhi residents from competing for admission in DU or Central universities anywhere in the country. This jostling for admission, and the presence of motivated students from everywhere is, in fact, an indication of DU's cachet. Its talent and diversity give the university a special edge. It is true that the gap between demand and supply in higher education is untenable. But to address that problem, the AAP must join the national effort to expand the number of quality colleges, start more institutions under its own state universities, rather than diluting the Delhi University brand or slamming the door on deserving students from outside the city.

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