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Theatre society of DU’s BR Ambedkar College forced to drop Urdu name? Principal denies charge

College theatre society, which is said to have been named ‘Ilhaam (revelation)', was allegedly renamed ‘Aarambh (beginning)' Monday, following a 'diktat' from principal.

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New Delhi: A few students of Delhi University’s B.R. Ambedkar College have alleged that they were forced by the principal to change the name of their theatre society since it is in Urdu. The allegation has been denied by principal R.N. Dubey.

The college theatre society, which is said to have been named ‘Ilhaam (revelation)’, was allegedly renamed ‘Aarambh (beginning)’ Monday.

“At a meeting a couple of months ago, we were told by the principal to change the name of our theatre society because it is in Urdu. At the time, we did not pay much heed to the discussion, but two weeks ago, there was another meeting with the principal in which we were told that the theatre society will be shut down and we will receive no funds if the name is not changed,” said a third-year student and member of the theatre society.

Speaking to ThePrint, Dubey denied the accusation, saying “none of our societies has names like that”.

“The cultural societies are known by the nature of the art, like theatre society, dance society, music society and so on. None of them has specific names… so there is no question of me trying to change the name or impose something on the students,” he said.

He added that he neither threatened to stop funding or shut down the society. “All the societies in our college are sanctioned by the staff council and those are the ones we recognise,” he said.

Ali Fraz Rezvi, who graduated from B.R. Ambedkar College this year and was a founding member of the theatre society, said, “I was in the meeting when the principal asked us to change the name of the society earlier this year. We ignored it that time. Now my juniors are telling me that he threatened to cut down funds to the society if the name was not changed.”

Also read: Dabur, Fabindia should have stuck to their ads. Succumbing shows ‘liberal’ India lacks spine

For the students, by the students

Delhi University colleges have an old tradition of student-led societies for theatre, music, arts, debate and literature, where faculty members are convenors and coordinators, but everything else — from planning the budget and activities to auditioning new members — is done by students.

While many colleges choose to name their society simply with the name of the art form, others have a proper name for it. For instance, the theatre society of Kirori Mal College is called ‘The Players’, the dance society of Hansraj College is ‘Oorja’, and the Indian dance society of Miranda House is ‘Mridang’.

B.R. Ambedkar College’s theatre society is known for productions that are political and social satires. Its annual budget is said to be Rs 35,000-40,000, funded by the college.

Some students are now raising the matter on social media.

This report has been revised to remove one of Rezvi’s quotes

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

Also read: ‘Modi shasan’ not ‘Modi sarkar’: This IIM alumnus wants Urdu out of Hindi


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