In three weeks, the historic Osmania University in Hyderabad will celebrate 100 years of its foundation.
However, the festive mood, which should have been visible by now, is glaringly missing on the campus. Except an arch near the administrative building and a flattened balloon on the mighty Arts College building, there are no signs of any celebrations.
Surprisingly, neither students nor most of the faculty members have any clue as to how the centenary celebrations of the university, founded by the last Mir Osman Ali Khan in 1917, are going to be held.
All that they know is that it is going to be a three-day affair—a two-hour inaugural ceremony to be attended by President Pranab Mukherjee on April 26, an alumni meeting to be inaugurated by Maharashtra governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on the second day and an all-India vice-chancellors’ conference on the final day to be addressed by Union human resources development minister Prakash Javdekar.
“We are awaiting nod from Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to approve the actual programme schedule,” OU centenary celebrations committee special officer Prof H Venkateshwarlu told Hindustan Times.
The prestigious university, which has produced several stalwarts like former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao, former Lok Sabha speaker Shivraj Patil and former Union minister S Jaipal Reddy, besides industrialists like G V K Reddy and Karan Billimoria, is still in shambles and requires urgent facelift for the occasion.
Nearly 20 of the 42 hostel buildings are in a pathetic state. The hostel rooms and dormitories are not spacious enough. The iron cots have no mattresses and students have been using banners and polythene covers as bedsheets. Roofs are covered with asbestos sheets which are broken at several places.
“During rainy season, it is a virtual shower in our rooms. We cannot go anywhere,” lamented Prashant, a post-graduate in public administration, staying in E-hostel.
There is no underground sewerage system in the hostels and water overflows through the drains. “About bathrooms, less said the better,” rues Reddy Srinivas, doing MA (political science).
“Many toilets are without doors and bolts. The water supply is grossly inadequate for 10,000 boarders. And this summer, there is a severe drinking water scarcity. There are no water coolers, and there is nobody to repair even the fans,” he said.
All that the university authorities have done so far for the centenary celebrations is white-washing the exteriors of hostel buildings, without bothering to improve the amenities.
“Authorities are not involving any student leaders in the celebration committees, since we raise all these issues. What is the point in illuminating buildings and releasing balloons in the air as part of celebrations, without bothering to provide basic facilities to students?” asked N Ramesh, Telangana student joint action committee leader.
Prof Venkateshwarlu said student leaders were not involved because there was no single union due to the absence of elections for several years.
“Nevertheless, I am planning to have a meeting with some student representatives in a couple of days to discuss the issues,” he said.
The special officer said the Telangana government had allocated Rs 200 crore for the OU celebrations this year. “We are also expecting another Rs 100 crore from the Centre. Once we get the funds, we will renovate the hostels and construct new buildings with all the modern facilities. This is a year-long process,” Venkateshwarlu said.