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Rahul Gandhi's dig irks St Stephen’s

St Stephen’s College, took serious umbrage to Rahul Gandhi’s claim that during his year-long stay there, students who asked questions in class “were looked down upon”.

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Rahul Gandhi's dig irks St Stephen’s
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NEW DELHI: The national capital’s premier educational institution, St Stephen’s College, took serious umbrage to Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s claim that during his year-long stay there, students who asked questions in class “were looked down upon”.

The MP from Amethi said on Tuesday, “When I was studying at St Stephen’s College, asking a question was not (perceived to be) good in our class. You were looked down upon if you asked too many questions.” Gandhi, who was addressing students at a university in Srinagar, took a dig at his alma mater to differentiate between the Indian higher education system and that of the United States and England.

Teachers at the college said Gandhi’s statement could at best be “his personal experience” and not a ground for generalisation of the academic environment at St Stephen’s.

“What Mr Gandhi said is his personal experience and there’s no reason to believe otherwise. It can certainly not be correct to make such a generalisation about the overall academic environment at the college,” said Valson Thampu, principal.

Gandhi was enrolled in the college in 1989 in the History (Hons) course and was in the institution for a year.

About his conduct during his stay, Thampu said, “Though I didn’t teach him, I always found him to be exceptionally well behaved and he conducted himself with humility.”
However, a faculty member at the college who requested anonymity pointed out, “There are nearly 36 clubs and forums at the college which promote a liberal culture. The Informal Discussions Group allows students from all courses to discuss varied issues. But during his year-long stay at the college, Rahul hardly participated in any of these forums.”

Thampu however attributed Gandhi’s absence from these activities to his VIP status. “Unfortunately, being the son of a VIP, there were always issues of security and an array of other matters that may have restricted his participation in daily activities of the institution.”

Interestingly, Thampu hailed Gandhi’s call for overhauling the higher education system in the country. “I’m grateful to him for raising the pertinent issue of overhauling the higher education system in the country and bringing it at par with foreign institutions like Stanford or Oxford. I wish the leader along with other policy makers calls for a national debate on the issue,” Thampu said.

Thampu added, “The approach towards higher education in our country today is just to cover the syllabus. Simply completing the syllabus cannot be equated with good education. Liberal discussions on an array of issues and a system that would groom a student into a self-dependent, confident individual is the need of today.”
y_puneet@dnaindia.net

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