The decision by Delhi University to drop 12 sporting categories from its list of eligible ECA sports without clear motives has left aspiring students in the lurch
Rakesh Kumar (name changed) is a national softball champion. Considered a child prodigy, he has been participating in matches and winning medals since he was just 10 years old. After eight years on the professional circuit, winning medals in countries like Bahrain, Argentina and the US, Kumar thought that his laurels would finally earn him a place in a prestigious college under the Delhi University.
However, this was not to be. The Delhi University in 2019 issued a notice revoking 12 sports from the list under which eligible students were admitted through the sports quota. Softball was part of that list, and hence when Kumar applied for admissions in the 2020-21 session, his application was rejected.
But Kumar couldn’t just see his dream of studying and representing a Delhi University college shattered. He filed a petition with the Delhi High Court.
Kumar is not alone. Ishan Singh, a national level netball player too filed a petition in the Delhi High Court to include Men’s Netball in the list of sports for admission to the sports quota. His case, however, was unique. While Delhi University allows women’s netball players to get admitted to the sports quota, men are excluded from the list.
The Delhi High Court had to this to say in both cases:
“The court sees no reason to interfere with the policy decision of Delhi University to include or exclude certain sports from the Sports Quota availability for men or women”
Not everyone could take recourse to the court to fight to get their dreams unfulfilled. Shailaja Kumar is a professional archer with dreams of one day representing India at the Olympic Games. With the exclusion of archery from the list of sports for sports quota, her dreams took a backseat.
“Representing a DU college in the lower levels gives you a good advantage and great exposure. But removing archery just doesn’t seem sensible. It is one of the most followed and played sports in the country”, says Shailaja, citing examples like Dola Roy, who have brought laurels to the country in archery.
The 12 sports that Delhi University has excluded from the sports quota include:
- Archery (Indian round)
- Ball badminton
- Baseball (women)
- Softball (men)
- Korfball (male)
- 4x100m Relay race
- Cross-country running
- Cycling, fencing
- Best physique
- Netball (men)
The last session that these sports were included (in 2018-19), the DU received a total 2,193 applications out of the 12,000 sports quota applications that year seeking admission under these sporting categories. This means one in every six applications was from one of these 12 sports.
As per UG bulletin 2019, 185 seats were affected by the cancellation of these sports. What is alarming is that relay, one of the major track and field sports, even considered elite level by the Olympics, was excluded. A mammoth 1,323 applications came for this category only.
DU removed 12 sports for eligibility from the sports quota in June 2019. It allows admissions under sports and extracurricular activities (ECA) based on performance history and trials. The sports that will not be considered for the entry quota are softball, baseball, best physique, korfball male, ball badminton, relay 200 & 400, archery (Indian round), cycling, fencing, yoga and powerlifting.
The committee, however, decided to shift yoga to the ECA category for the upcoming admission session.
Delhi University Sports Council (DUSC) submitted its decision in the admission committee meeting, making these sports irrelevant for securing admissions this year onwards. The decision was later, also, produced before the standing council.
This decision had been challenged in the High Court by the teachers of physical education of these colleges who are also members of DUSC; but, the director of DUSC has made no statement about the same yet, more than a year after the bill was passed. The rationale behind the decision remains unknown to this day
On May 22, Justice C Hari Shankar, of the Delhi High Court, issued a notice to the Delhi University seeking to know its stand on the plea by 11 students who contended DU’s removal of these 12 games. The students are calling the decision violative of the constitution and are seeking quashing of the said order.
A member of the sports council, who wished not to be named, said in a media statement that the lack of applicants in these sports was the reason for their exclusion. “Under the Union government’s guidelines, universities should take admissions only in games that are part of the Commonwealth, Olympics or Asian games. The sports that we have decided to exclude are not as popular and only a handful of candidates opt for them while applying for admissions,” he said.
The physical education teachers’ association expressed its unhappiness on the stakeholders not being consulted. “The decision to drop any game should have been taken after consulting the members of academic and executive councils,” said Rajesh Jha, a member of the university’s executive council, in a statement to a leading daily.