On July 1 around 10 a.m., Delhi Cantonment railway station will be teeming with about 1,000 girls dressed in khaki and armed with enough books to last a fortnight.

1,000 NCC, NSS girls are alol set to embark on a 12-day special train journey to experience India. Many of them will be seen keenly observing the platform and taking notes before boarding a train that has been especially booked for them by Delhi University.

These 1,000 girls are the first batch of students to embark on the maiden expedition of “Gyanodaya”, a train journey to take university students across the length and breadth of the country to observe first-hand how their countrymen live, part of the grand plans announced by Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh early this summer, with the explanation that a train journey in India was an education in itself.

“Sleeper class compartments have been booked. We are trying to keep it as real as possible. They are all NCC and NSS cadets, the colleges have screened these 1,000 students based on their own methods,” he said, before adding: “These cadets have the right kind of attitude and show an early inclination to serve the country, therefore they have been specifically chosen for the inaugural journey.”

According to Prof. Singh, there is something always to be learnt for an aspiring engineer, sociologist, geologist and historian from a train ride. “Our students will observe the engineering behind the workings of a train and the different lives of ordinary people as they pass through railway platforms in different regions and we will visit places to make history come alive,” he had said, while first revealing his plans.

The train will go Ahmadabad, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore and Wardha before returning to Delhi. There will be conducted tours of places special to each city with the usual mixture of games, leisure and shopping lined up. However, it is not all fun and games for the girls.

They will have an orientation session at the beginning of the journey where they will be provided a couple of books along with instructions of what is expected of them during and after the journey.

They will be expected to read all these books and keenly observe the compartment design of the train, food habits and other sociological aspects of people they see on the railway platforms along their way. They will also have to study the geography, agriculture, language, literature and ethnicity of people of different regions that they visit.

“No sitting by yourself at any time during the journey” is a strict rule that will be followed throughout as students will be expected to be part of the group, helping fellow students and taking part in group discussions.

At the end of 12 days, a two-page report of the entire journey and a one-page report based on the book collection will have to be submitted by every student.

There is no escaping the classroom assignments as students will be accompanied by their professors and if his schedule allows it, Prof. Singh himself.

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