From helping with admission forms and finding accommodation to arranging Hindi lessons — older students in Northeastern regional associations are helping new undergraduates from their states find their feet in Delhi University.
Last year, 63 students from Northeastern states were admitted to Miranda House, while at Ramjas College, 17 students from Manipur, 14 from Assam, and 2 each from Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura were admitted. Hansraj College had last year admitted 17 students from Assam, 15 from Manipur, 6 from Mizoram, 3 from Arunachal Pradesh and 1 from Tripura.
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Various student associations are working to make this journey to DU colleges easier. Before undergraduation admission forms are made available on the university’s website, senior members of these associations circulate their names and numbers to local newspapers and television channels back home, so aspirants know who to reach out to for assistance.
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“Many applicants are in such remote places that they are unaware of the situation of Delhi. They have difficulty filling out forms and choosing programmes,” said Chinglen Khumukcham, president of North East Forum for International Solidarity (NEFIS).
While the Manipuri Students’ Association Delhi (MSAD) provided counselling over the phone for applicants this admission season, the Naga Students’ Union Delhi (NSUD) set up a physical help desk as well.
“We set it up at Nagaland House in RK Puram for around 10 days. Now that the process is mostly online, not many people come to Delhi for it, but still we did registrations for around 150. Including those who reached out over the phone, we assisted around 500 people,” said Yaorei Horam, vice-president of NSUD.
After admissions begins the more difficult process for students – of making Delhi home.
“It is very difficult to find an appropriate place to reside in a new city. There are many colleges in DU, so we help students find a place in a locality based on the college,” said Javed Mehedi, vice-president MSAD.
Students of the association go even further, opening doors of their Delhi homes for aspirants and their families. “During admission, students and their guardians need a place to stay. Many of us live in rented flats, so we invite them to stay with us… In my home, I have adjusted five people. Last year, almost 70 students had accommodated people,” said Mehedi.
The Nagaland Students’ Union also organises workshops and sessions, including free Hindi lessons. “We hire a Hindi teacher, for around a month, to offer Hindi lessons as most people don’t know the language. Without this kind of assistance, even simple things like getting a rickshaw can be hard. We also provide legal aid workshops to explain rent agreements, and electricity and water bills. These are provided by those of us studying at Law Faculty, and we also invite Naga lawyers working in Delhi,” said Horam.
Mehedi explained why the older, more experienced students go out of their way to help new entrants. “We want to help the upcoming generation, as education opportunities are rare in Manipur. There is a desire to study, but there is only one full fledged university, and another upcoming one. Young people do not get the quality they want there. That is why we want to help them get the opportunity to do so here,” he said.