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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Explained: DU admissions under ECA category, and why it has triggered criticism this year

Delhi University has announced that it will conduct admission to undergraduate courses under ECA for all categories without trials, and only through scrutiny of certificates. What does this mean?

Written by Sukrita Baruah , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 28, 2020 7:21:53 am
Students at Delhi University for admission (Express Photo/Praveen Khanna)

The Delhi University announced on Sunday that it will conduct admission under the Extra-Curricular Activities (ECA) quota in all categories without trials in this academic year. So far, it had held that it would conduct ECA admissions only for NCC and NSS categories due to difficulties in conducting trials while maintaining social distancing norms. Now it has announced that it will conduct admission to undergraduate courses under ECA for all categories without trials, and only through scrutiny of certificates. While there had been a push from several quarters for ECA admissions to be held, the decision to not conduct trials met with criticism.

What has been the status of ECA admissions so far this year?

In the Bulletin of Information for undergraduate admission released by the university for this year’s admission, the administration wrote, “Due to the unprecedented situation of COVID-19 pandemic and prevailing public health guidelines, admission based on ECA will take place for the category of NCC and NSS only and admission based on sports will take place without the conduct of Sports Trial”.

Last year, apart from these two categories, ECA admission had been conducted for 12 other categories – creative writing, dance, debate, digital media, fine arts, music (vocal), music (instrumental: Indian), music (instrumental: Western), theatre, quiz, divinity, and yoga. There were 1,049 seats under these categories available across all colleges last year.

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What was the reaction to this decision?

This move has upset many DU aspirants who have been practicing cultural activities over the years and were expecting to apply for admission through this category. Earlier this month, prominent cultural artistes including Sonal Mansingh, Birju Maharaj and Geeta Chandran had written to both the President and Vice-President appealing against the decision. “If after years of ‘sadhana’ one cannot even distinguish oneself as the upholder of India’s ancient traditions, as one enters into college, why then would anyone want to put in so many years of sweat and hard work, that the arts demand,” they had written. Following this, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu had held a meeting with DU officials and advised them to retain the ECA admissions this year as well.

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What is the modified system for ECA admission in the current admission cycle?

Aspirants who want to apply for ECA admission can register through the DU portal between August 1 and 31. They will have to submit a maximum of ‘best five’ certificates in their spheres from the last three years (not before May 1, 2017). These will be scrutinized and evaluated out of a total marks. The university has also stated that there shall be forensic examination of the certificates. Those scoring more than 20 marks shall be eligible for the final merit list of admission on the basis of ECA.

The criteria for marking shall be:

* Participation/ Prizes in Competition – Maximum marks 44

* Training/ Examinations – Maximum marks 28

* Workshops – Maximum marks 16

* Performance/ Published Works/ Exhibition (Public) – Maximum marks 12

Last year, certificates carried only 25% weightage in determining the final merit list and were scrutinized only after two rounds of centralised trials. The performance in the second round of trials carried a weightage of 75%.

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Why is this modified system being criticised as well?

The decision to rely solely on certificates and not conduct trials at all has come under criticism. Renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Geeta Chandran had written against the move on a social media. “This is hugely problematic, since in several states, certificates are available for a monetary consideration. To give talent its rightful due, after much lobbying last year, we had reduced the weightage given to certificates to 25% and 75% for the trials… When everything is being worked out through technological innovations, Delhi University’s reluctance to do trials on tech platforms is quite frankly bewildering… Making the arts quota subservient to manipulation by piling certificates is not in the long-term interest of any of the arts,” she wrote.

Dr Sanjay Kumar Batra, who has been part of the admission process at Sri Venkateswara College for the last 10 years, said that trials are necessary for a transparent process and the best option would have been to conduct decentralised trials for different activities at various centres spread across multiple days.

“The main problem with ECA is that there is no centrally recognised body for an activity issuing certificates unlike sports. It is quite possible to get a ‘duplicate’ certificate from say, a local dance academy which is not suitable for such a prestigious seat. Trials need to be conducted activity wise across several centres for transparency,” he said.

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