Ramjas College of Delhi University
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 23 May 2022
The University of Delhi (DU) was established in 1922 with four constituent colleges — St. Stephen’s College, Hindu College, Ramjas College, and Delhi College (now called Zakir Hussain College). It had two faculties at that time — Arts and Science. The first Vice Chancellor of DU was Sir Maurice Gwyer who was housed in the Viceregal Lodge which was subsequently transferred to DU and is now considered a heritage building — its basic structure cannot be changed. The building is now the office of the Vice Chancellor (VC) and other senior officers of the University.
Sir Maurice Gwyer remained as VC from 1938 to1950; today a person can be VC only once for five years. In his honour there is a well known residential quarters called Maurice Nagar and a hostel for male students called Gwyer Hall.As indicated earlier a well known College of DU is Ramjas College.
I was a student of that college and lived in its Hostel for five years while I did my undergraduate and postgraduate studies for three and two years respectively. I have some fond memories of the college which I want to share with my readers here.
The warden of the Hostel was a Professor known as Dr Kaul who had a fantastic memory. His students talked about it in glowing terms. His wife was earlier from a well known city called Gwalior.
Apart from the regular students who lived in the Hostel and had their breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Hostel, another interesting person who used to occasionally come to the Hostel was a man called Atal Behari Vajpayee who was also from the city of Gwalior and knew Mrs Kaul before her marriage.
Sometimes Mr Atal Vajpayee used to come to the dining hall usually at lunch time and had his lunch along with us students. His visit was interesting since he used to relate many stories to us. He talked with gusto about his experiences as a budding political figure. He was also a good poet of Hindi language and had published some of his poems.
I should mention that Mr Atal Vajpayee subsequently became a member of the Indian Parliament and also became the Prime Minister of India in 1998 and later, also on the BJP (Bharathiya Janta Party) ticket which today is ruling in several Indian states. Mr Narendra Modi our present PM is also from the BJP party. Mr Atal was born on 25 December 1924 and when the TV puts some features of Christmas, they simultaneously have to refer to Mr Atal’s anniversary.
Another aspect — a negative one perhaps was that on Sundays or holidays, the regular hostellers could not have a second round of sweets since the kitchen people used to say that Mr Atal also loved kheer (sweet dish).
Although, I was a student of the College I had my classes in other institutions. The only class I had in Ramjas was on Mathematical Statistics. One of my classmates, Parthasarathi Dasgupta, subsequently went to UK and did some excellent research in Economics. There were rumours that he would win the Nobel Prize in Economics. He didn’t make it but he did get several other awards and prizes including knighthood. Now he is often known as Sir Partho.
Another fond memory that I have of Ramjas College is that I won a musical performance in the college by playing a beautiful Hindi film song on my bansuri — flute.
Where did I learn to play the flute? It is an interesting fact that my family had earlier lived in Karol Bagh in a rented portion on the first floor of a house owned by a gentleman known as Nihal Puri who had two sons working as actors in the Hindi film industry in Bombay. His third son Amrish Puri who was at that time an ordinary man living with his father in the ground floor of the house, used to play the flute. It was Amrish Puri who taught me the rudiments of flute playing. A few years later Amrish joined the film industry in Bombay and became a villain par excellence.
Perhaps, I also have some villainous qualities. No wonder that when I try to enter the premises of Ramjas College now, the guards are reluctant to allow me inside. With some persuasion and filling in some forms, they let me go to the College office. I will try to meet the Principal and relate my varied experiences with the College.
Ramjas College is going from strength to strength.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. email@example.com
Tags: Delhi University, History, India
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 May 2022.
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