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History and chemistry

College admissions are in full swing. My visit to DAV College, Kangra (Himachal Pradesh), proved an eye-opening experience. I had never seen such a great rush of admission seekers. Spending the prime period of my life teaching young students at this prestigious college had given me a vast variety of experience both sweet and bitter. DC Sharma writes.

punjab Updated: Jul 30, 2013 09:32 IST
DC Sharma

College admissions are in full swing. My visit to DAV College, Kangra (Himachal Pradesh), proved an eye-opening experience. I had never seen such a great rush of admission seekers. Spending the prime period of my life teaching young students at this prestigious college had given me a vast variety of experience both sweet and bitter.


Every year, parents would approach me to allow their ward to do the communicative English course. There were just 30 seats. The competition for admission used to be tough. I, being at the helm of affairs in the matter, would convince them this way or that way, but to no avail. Their plea would remain the same. They almost all said that communicative English being a simpler and easier course than general English, it was the best "marks catcher". Since English linguistics, when correctly attempted, would allow cent per cent marks, it would greatly enhance their percentage and division.

Now, with the implementation of RUSA (Rashtriya Uch Shiksha Abhiyan) as well as the semester system in Himachal Pradesh University, the trend here is entirely different. With communicative English not there, and even English not that compulsory, students have to be searched for so that some of them opt for English as the main subject. But if two-three students do so, it won't be economical and justifiable to involve such highly paid teachers for a negligible number of learners. And who knows when such students may change their mind after a week or so!

What is all the more astonishing now is that now there is no rigidity of those subject combinations as there used to be. Those streams of medical, non-medical or arts no longer have thick boundary walls. This made me curious to visit other colleges too. At one college, students were chiming a rhyme in unison: "Hindi or history/BSc chemistry!" This slogan prompted me to ask them what it meant.

The explanation was astounding. Now, a student can do BSc in chemistry even if he/she doesn't know anything about physics or biology! To get this degree now, a student has simply to opt for chemistry as the major subject. However, he/she may just take Hindi and history as the two minor subjects. A similar rule applies to BSc in other science subjects, and vice-versa in BA in various subjects.

When I learnt about the combination of history and chemistry, the doors of my memory were flung open. I remembered my bitter experience in another college, where I was a senior member of the management committee. One day, an interview to select lecturers in chemistry was to be held. Being a senior member, it was natural for me to act as the chairman of the interview board.

A rich landlord friend wanted his only son to appear in the interview. He revealed that he would give his son a surprise if I agreed to select him. The boy was an MA in history. When I told my friend that we needed a lecturer in chemistry, he went on pressing me: "Simply a minor difference! Otherwise, why should I approach you, dear Dharam...? You know, it is a question of my prestige!"

With every rhyme the students recited, the image of that friend flashed more vividly on the screen of my mind.