Manju Kumari, a Delhi University student counsellor, is a very busy person these days.
She has been kept on her toes ever since the Insight Foundation launched a national admission helpline for dalit and adivasi (Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe) students on May 27.
Kumari has received calls from students from as far as Nagaland, Hoshangabad, Kutch, who mainly enquire about the documentation required, scholarships options and future prospects of various courses available in DU.
Student-counsellor exchanges are also active through SMSes.
The first-of-a-kind national helpline was started to assist SC and ST students, especially those based out of rural and semi-rural areas, where information is not easily accessible, in making informed choices about higher-education options in DU.
Anoop Kumar, national coordinator for Insight, said, “We, as reserved category students, did not have any platform to discuss and share our common problems; a common stage was dearly needed. That was the idea with which we started our endeavour, unofficially, in 2003, and got our foundation registered as a non-profit trust in 2007.”
Kumar said that they are trying to link up the DU students with faculty members, senior students and ex-students of the university who are now employed.
“We are also in the process of starting a website were young students and aspirants can link up with any of the hundred mentors enrolled with us, mostly SC and ST, who are now themselves successful and respected members of our society,” he said.
They also receive a lot of distress calls from the reserved category students. Gurinder Singh Azad, a student coordinator, said students from these communities, who come from small villages and schools, have a hard time during admissions and studies in DU since they are often humiliated and prejudiced against, as coming through a quota.
He cited several cases like that of Bal Mukund Bharti, a final-year medical student from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, who allegedly committed suicide because of constant harassment he received from teachers and fellow students for being a harijan.
The Insight Foundation also counsels students on other professional courses including Law, Engineering and Medicine.
The foundation’s helpline number is 0-9999 48 42 49; it is open from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 1pm.