As in every project, this novel approach too met with resistence in the beginning, but some people finally prevailed
Dr Devesh Vijay is Associate Professor of History at Zakir Hussain Delhi College. He is also one of the convenors of the Outreach Committee of the college which is leading the initiative in Basti Khwaja Mir Dard. Our correspondent caught up with him to understand more about it
What was your motivation when you started the programme?
I always have been a supporter of community-based programmes in the college. It doesn’t require extra funding and there is no question of ideological clashes. It removes the chances of friction with neighbourhood. The students and teachers have enough time to utilise it productively and it provides a big learning experience to them. So, I see a win-win situation for everyone. For me, it was completely inexplicable that such programmes don’t run in our colleges. UGC’s directive acted as a catalyst for us and now I wish that UGC makes this mandatory for every college to have such programs.
What were the challenges you faced? How did you deal with it?
There was some resistance from a small section of people and they tried to act against our work. I believe such inertia is part of every society. There will always be some people who will oppose a new idea and try to sabotage it, but there will always be a substantial number of people who will support. Our college administration has been very supportive of our initiative. In fact, our Principal, Dr R Prabhakar Rao takes a personal interest in our work. Dr Abdul Farooqi, convenor of the Outreach Committee has been leading from the front. Some of my colleagues have provided unconditional support and actively participate in our work. We have taken inspiration from Gandhi and tried to show extreme respect, even to the adversaries and this has worked for our own good.
How do you see your experience in the larger context of societal development in India?
In every society, there are a few people who want to do good work, and a few bad ones who try to oppose such work. This is a constant. In the European culture, even those who don’t actively participate in social work, don’t sit idly at the periphery. They curb the growing influence of these adversaries and allow the good people to continue their social work. In India, this tendency is absent. We are a timid set of people, a result of years of repression. Hence, most of us don’t raise our voices even when we see the fringe trying to sabotage the good work. This needs to change and the good work needs to have cascading effect on society. If something like this is made mandatory by UGC, think of the millions of lives, we can improve.
What are the future plans of Outreach Committee?
We have very ambitious plans and we want to work for health, hygiene, livelihood, also. Right now, our immediate agenda is to train the youth in home based crafts and also provide other skill development opportunities to them.
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