A major controversy is brewing in the capital after the governing council of an old Delhi University college sought to change its name. Headed by a BJP member, the managing council recently decided to rename Dyal Singh Evening College as Vande Mataram Mahavidyalaya, the name of the morning college remains unchanged. Dyal Singh College was founded by a well-known philanthropist in Lahore, and named after him, before the Partition.
It began the morning college in late 1950s in South Delhi. An evening college with the same name and location started a couple of years later. The governing council is common for both. Members of the Akali Dal, an ally of the BJP, have protested the name-change. Even the BJP seems to be split, with some members wondering whether the priority should not be accorded to the quality of education instead. The student body too is divided given that the present name only evokes images of very poor academic standards. Also, naming a college, Vande Mataram, has raised eyebrows in some sections, though if there can be a Jai Hind college in Mumbai, Vande Mataram should not by itself cause offense.
We are not certain that the governing council has done itself a favour. The foremost priority of an educational institution ought to be upgrading academic standards, the provision of basic infrastructures, including for sports and cultural activities, and not on peripheral matters. Vande Mataram is a revered theme and must not be dragged into the ticket of public controversy.