An Interview with the Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University

The vice chancellor of DU, Prof. Deepak Pental, does not require any introduction. He has been associated with DU since many years, and has contributed to the well being of DU at different levels.


VP- How do you feel being the VC of such a renowned university and how much pressure and responsibility do you face?


VC- It obviously feels good. As far as the pressures are concerned, they are mostly bad type of pressures like related to departments, courses not being revised, politics in the university e.g. the recent Geelani case, then how to send the students abroad, introduction of International exchange programmes, how to create cultural spirits among the students etc.


VP- Sir, can you please give a brief account of your academic achievements?


VC- I did my B.Sc and M.Sc from Punjab University in Botany. Then I did PhD from Rutgers University from New Jersey, post doctoral and university research fellow from University of Delhi. Then I worked as a fellow in TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute). After that I worked as a Dean in the faculty of interdisciplinary and applied sciences (FIAS) in the south campus of DU. Later on I worked as the director of south campus of DU and at present the vice chancellor of DU.


VP- In the last budget, the Finance Minister had allocated a large chunk of money, Rs. 100 crore to DU. How is it being utilized for the betterment of the students?


VC- Only Rs. 100 crores has been allocated, which is not a very huge amount for such a big university. We are utilizing it for making a new building for the faculty of management studies, in buying new instruments for the laboratories. A part of it is also being utilized for sending some of the teachers of the University abroad, for getting higher degrees in those courses in which India is lagging behind. Eg. Commerce teachers are being sent for doing Masters in finance and Developmental Economics. In biology, statistical biology is gaining importance these days. Usually the students of biology have poor mathematics. But the advanced courses like bioinformatics require the knowledge of math along with bio. So we are planning to send the teachers abroad for getting higher degrees in such areas.


VP- The interest of the students towards the traditional subjects is lacking, especially courses like History, Hindi and Sanskrit. Your views?


VC- Among the language courses, English is not lacking importance because it is job oriented. Other subjects like History and Hindi have too many seats in comparison to their demand. Students can develop interest in these subjects only if it seeks employment for them. And only those students can do well who choose these subjects as per their interest or else they will not be able to perform well. Hence the subject automatically loses importance.


VP- What are your views regarding the existing education system in India?


VC- It could do a lot better. Students need to be proficient not only in one subject but at least in two subjects. For example, if somebody is a student of biology, he/she should have proficiency in either chemistry or math along with bio because all the genomic studies have a lot of data. So if a student does not have a mathematical mind, it becomes difficult to cope up. In fact, zoology and botany are individually too narrow to be studied. Students ought to be taught biology as one subject.


VP- Recently, there was news regarding an international scholarship program for DU students. What are the strategies and procedures to get that?


VC- We have signed a lot of MOU’s. We are going to start out a M.Tech program which will consist of three courses- the 1st is related to technology, the 2nd deals with materials and non-materials and the 3rd deals with scaling up the production. In all these the students can get scholarship and they can be sent abroad for 6 months to get training and to see where the world stands.


VP- The controversies between ABVP and NSUI is a burning issue in the campus at present. Why do you think such controversies arise immediately after elections?


VC- Wherever human beings exist, controversies are always there. India is a democratic country. I find that the students are either too apathetic towards political processes or they are overzealous. There should be freedom of speech in the university. In that case, the students are permitted to listen and counter but any king of physical attack is not justified. So the fact of the matter is that what matters us the moist is the viability of the society and the country.


VP- DU stands as one of the best universities of the world. Do you think the syllabi at present is adequate to match with the topmost universities like Oxford and Cambridge, or are there any plans for upgrading the syllabus?


VC- The profile and education requires improvement. The courses should be upgraded according to the latest discoveries. So we have taken many actions. One is the adoption of the semester system and the second is that we are trying to develop materials for the students which will be available to the students via net. In our program we are defining what the students have to read.


VP- The session of DU is being planned to run on the basis of semester system from 2010. What do you think are the advantages of the semester system over the present one?


VC- More uniformity in work and also the work load on the students will be reduced. They will not have the burden to study everything at one time. Also, they can be regular at attending classes and know where they stand. The idea of the semester system is to regularize the students. It is to make them work methodically.


VP- For the Commonwealth Games, some locations in the campus have also been booked, for which a number of trees have been cut down. Have adequate measures been thought of to replace those?


VC- Yes, some trees have been removed. But within some time a lot of planting will be done near the stadiums. In other areas like the vice chancellor’s office, many new trees have already been planted. So the campus will continue to be equally clean.


VP- It is the era of globalization. So is DU planning any collaboration with the foreign universities?


VC- Yes, work is in the progress. We have signed the documents for collaborations with certain French and German universities. All these have been planned but can be implemented only when the semester system is accepted because globally the semester system is followed. We cannot send the students abroad for a year as it becomes too expensive. We can only send them for a semester.


Compiled by :


Shruti Kapoor