95 Years of IP College – How DU’s Oldest Women’s College Has Aged

Established in 1924, 232 years after the establishment of Delhi University’s (DU) first college (Zakir Husain Delhi College), Indraprastha College for Women has nurtured a plethora of strong women for over 95 years.

The institution continues to be the only women’s institution to have its own swimming pool. One fascinating fact about this pool is that it was dug up by the students of the college as a symbol of protest against the then government and is still used as an important example in explaining the college’s legacy.

However, the sad reality weighing on this institution is that this legacy is slowly withering away.

The older generations who were aware of the college’s glory, considered it to be the best. The newer generations don’t even know the college comes under DU and is different from Delhi’s Indraprastha University.

This problem might be because the college administration basks more in its glorious past than the present, claiming how the women of the college were a part of the women’s liberation movement. But this very college, today, is home to scores of suppressed women who are stifled from speaking up.

Most of the students are afraid to speak up because they fear that they would be blacklisted by the principal, or their degree or admit card would be withheld. The role of the college’s student union has also been reduced to that of minions working at the behest of teachers’ commands, thereby being stripped of any real power.

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In Indraprastha College for Women, student festivals are organised by the teachers, with the principal dictating each aspect of the celebration.

The principal has a favourite department, Multimedia and Mass Communications, that gets to organise a three-day fest, a farewell on a separate day and gets exempted from organising a Student Paper Presentation (a bi-annual practice followed by each department). The problem is, all this is done when most other departments either aren’t allowed to organise a fest or have to organise it on the same day as their department farewell.

Perhaps, Indraprastha College for Women should celebrate its 95 years by giving back the rights of liberty and freedom to its students, and open its gates to freer discussions.

While the students fondly (or probably out of frustration) call the college ‘Attendance College for Women’, or a place only safe for potted plants, the authorities fail to see this discontent and blame the students and alumnae for not being passionate enough towards the college.

The principal is a fan of academic discussions, but can’t stand the idea of people gathering in the college to hold their own discussions. That is apparently constitutes the misuse of college property. One can only wonder if she’s afraid of where such discourse might lead.

Indraprastha College is, no doubt, one of the best institutions in DU, with a great array of facilities. To name a few: a shooting range, a tennis court, a squash court, a climbing wall, a museum, MALR (that has classified records of artists who don’t want their art to be used commercially) and an ever-improving infrastructure.

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The college also offers 15 courses and is the only institute to offer a Bachelors in Multimedia and Mass Communications. This is a one-of-a-kind course and has its own studio that is, without a doubt, better than what any other college of the University can hope to offer.

But in reality, the environment of the college is not as dynamic as it might seem. The institution is deeply divided, and student activities are highly restricted. The principal threatens to dissolve various societies (recently disbanded Enactus IPCW) and stops women from seeking sponsorships for events or participating in outstation competitions, all in the name of security.

It has the boldest women, which the principal takes credit for, and highly suppressed women, who are often ignored. Perhaps, it’s time that the administration takes off its blindfolds and looks at the reality rather than being lost in the presumably amazing things they claim to be doing.

Hopefully, in 2024 – when my college completes a century –  I will write another article boasting about the oldest women’s college of the University, but one which is still relevant and doesn’t live in the past.

All views expressed are personal and belong to to the author.

Featured image credits: Facebook/college’s official page