The “surprise visit” is meant to catch lax Principals, teachers off-guard
The now traditional “surprise visit” by Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Dinesh Singh on the first day of college on Wednesday, meant to catch lax Principals and teachers off-guard, failed to surprise anyone, least of all the cluster of colleges “visited”.
One college had tea and sandwiches waiting, while another had a prepared agenda of classrooms the V-C could “surprise”, and one college had an auditorium filled with well-behaved students who clapped and cheered at all the right moments.
The first college he visited was Lady Shri Ram College in South Delhi, recently in the news for rumours of autonomy from the University. The “project room” had been set aside for the V-C and his entourage, replete with bottled water and a glass tumbler beside each chair.
However, an “orientation” session in the auditorium was going on for freshly-admitted students and the V-C was invited to make a speech by Principal Meenakshi Gopinath who introduced him thus: “This is a little politically incorrect… but girls, have you come across a more handsome V-C?”
Lady Shri Ram College was declared the university’s best asset.
“This college exemplifies the best of Delhi University, and it will also be the place which will have the best expression of the four-year undergraduate programme,” said Prof. Singh. His only grouse with the college was that it didn’t have air-conditioning in its auditorium, which he was going to put right by granting the college Rs.5 lakh to do as it pleases; but, which he hoped, will be put to use for an AC.
Although he was pressed to stay for the whole programme, he decided to leave, but not before accepting cake and well-cut sandwiches served with tea. However, the college vehemently denied any knowledge of his visit, claiming to have been caught off-guard.
Next on the list was Deshbandhu College, whose evening college is now called Ramanujan College. The V-C was met at the entrance by the Principal, the students’ union leader and about a hundred students who kept increasing in number as Prof. Singh slowly made his way to some classrooms, stopping every now and then to ask students if they liked the new four-year course and whether they were happy with the way the college functioned.
“Who is he? What is a V-C?” said some of the confused students who were waylaid.
The Hindi classroom was probably not on the agenda and Prof. T.K. Mishra pushed and shoved his way through the sweating and irritated crowd, which had by then gathered around him in the classroom. After some ruder shoves and expletives aimed at everyone around him, Prof. Mishra finally succeeded in getting the V-C to accompany him to a packed auditorium, where all the students assembled knew who he was and stood up to wish him.
“You should feel lucky to study in this college,” the V-C exclaimed. The claps and cheers were sustained throughout his speech and until he exited the auditorium.
“Which is the most frequently used alphabet in the English Language,” he asked the first batch of students gathered for the “Building Mathematical Ability” class in Acharya Narendra Dev College, the last on the list. He had decided on an impromptu quiz about primary numbers and other mathematical puzzles, out of which most were answered except for this one, which he declared to be more a “detective” puzzle than just a math one.
“There is a story, The Adventure of the Dancing Men, from the Sherlock Holmes series,” he said before telling the story. However, he refused to give the answer. “Find out yourself. Perhaps reading the book will help,” he said.