Were students of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College asked to change the name of their theatre group?

The students of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, Delhi University, were allegedly told their theatre society, Ilhaam, will lose funding and recognition if it is not renamed in Hindi
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

The theatre society of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, Ilhaam, is now called Aarambh. 

Ilhaam according to the online Urdu dictionary rekhta.org means 'revelation' or 'divine inspiration'. Aarambh, which traces its root to the Sanskrit word Aarmbha, means 'beginning'.  

This switch was made upon the insistence of the college authorities claim students and this directive came from Principal Dr RN Dubey and was delivered by the Convenor, they say.  

It was just last week, share the current members of the group on the condition of anonymity, that they were called upon by the Convenor and were informed that they had to rename the group or risk losing funds and recognition from the College. Additionally, the group members also went on to claim that they were threatened that they will not receive attendance for group activities and that their marks sheets will be withheld if they did not comply. 

When the students demanded to know the reason behind this verbal order, the Convenor allegedly hinted that the name was not acceptable to Principal Dr RN Dubey because it was in Urdu.

However, when EdexLive got in touch with Principal Dr Dubey, he said that he is unaware of the existence of any such society, and that the only societies recognised by the college are those mentioned on its official website. Upon visiting the college website, it was found that it only mentions a "cultural society" under its "Societies" section.

Moreover, Dr Dubey categorically denied the existence of the theatre group and said he did not issue any verbal or non-verbal order with regard to any theatre society.

Speaking to the Convenor 
On the same page, Dr Sunita Chaki is listed as the Convenor. When EdexLive got in touch with Dr Chaki, and asked if the Ilhaam society was a part of the college, and if it was asked to change its name, she said, "Yes. We did suggest that the students change the name because the word was not clear. The name should help people figure out what the group does." 

"We merely discussed if it was possible to change the name since it should be relatable," asserted Dr Chaki. To explain what she meant, she shares an example. "We have a creative society called 'Srijan'. From the name, people can figure out that it means creativity in Sanskrit," she pointed out. 

When asked if the administration or the principal had anything to do with the change in name, Dr Chaki said that the administration is not involved in this matter at all. However, later, she retracted her statements, and said she did not know anything about the matter. 

What does their online presence say?
Online, on Instagram, when we searched for this theatre group of the college, results turned up 'aarambh.brac'. The Instagram account's bio mentions that it was previously named Ilhaam.brac. 

The account has on its feed, posters of various events conducted under the theatre groups's previous name, Ilhaam, including an online cultural event called Malhaar, which was allegedly conducted by them in November 2021. The poster also features the name of Principal Dr Dubey with official logos of the college and Delhi University. 

Alumnus speaks, says it has happened before 
The students say that Ilhaam was a theatre group founded at Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, which is a constituent college of the Delhi University, in early January 2020. Ali Frez Rezvi, who was one of the Co-founders of the group, says that then-Principal, Dr GK Arora, did not have any issues with the name of the college. In fact, in 2020, Rezvi says that the college funded a month-long theatre workshop under Ilhaam.  

According to Rezvi, in February 2022, however, Dr RN Dubey took over as the Principal, and in about a month's time, called a meeting with the members of Ilhaam to ask them to change the name of their group to a synonym in Hindi. "He said that a college society named in Urdu is unprofessional and that it was better to name it in Hindi," alleged Rezvi, who graduated last month from the college. He adds that at the time, the students held their ground and argued against the demand.

Rezvi claims that the college management will target the monthly magazine next, named Ibaarat, which, he adds, means 'written' in Urdu. Taking his concerns to Twitter he posted, "The theatre society which we started as 'ilhaam' in our first year, has been renamed as 'aarambh'. Next is the monthly magazine just because they had an 'urdu' name. Principal Dubey was hellbent to do this from the very first day, we fought and now it's over."

What do the students wish to do?
A current member of the group tells EdexLive, on the condition of anonymity, that the students are apprehensive and are not willing to take on the administration in this matter. They also received no support from the faculty, who are unwilling to challenge the Principal, adds the student.

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