Dr Pratibha Jolly

Legacy

Established at dawn of independence on 7 March 1948 by the then Vice Chancellor of University of Delhi, Sir Maurice Gwyer, Miranda House chronicles the history of women's education in India. Coincidentally, the Founder's Day just precedes the International Women's Day. The college has a rich legacy. Its creation provided a unique opportunity to young women for quality higher education. For many it was a dream come true. A generation of young women entered the portals of the college with the image of a new life opening up before them. They set for themselves high goals and ideals. They worked for a new society in which women would enjoy equal opportunity with men in professional and public fields. In this, they were aided by the founding faculty who were independent minded, and belonged to the select group of highly educated women in independent India with a deep concern for quality of education they imparted. They were also charged with a spirit of adventure, steeped in idealism, and committed to women empowerment and the task of building a nation. From its inception, all those associated with the college believed that they had been entrusted with the task of nurturing a tender sapling and help it grow to have strong roots. Proud of their mission as early pioneers, they worked with single minded devotion in setting the Miranda traditions. These attributes of total dedication have contributed in a large measure to the position of distinction occupied by the college. Over near seven decades of its existence, the college has grown from strength to strength, continuing to provide an atmosphere of high academic excellence and rich cultural activities to its students. The college has established a niche for itself amongst the globally recognized premiere institutions of higher learning.

Being a college established and maintained by the University, Miranda House has a special place among the women's colleges of the University of Delhi. Its location in the heart of the University Campus, and its close interaction with the various Departments of the University and other campus colleges gives it a unique advantage. Although a women's college, it is not a cloister. It welcomes interaction with other educational organizations across the country, and occasionally the world, actively engaging both men and women in all its extramural activities, competing with the best on equal terms. The extremely distinguished list of alumnae imparts a sense of confidence and immense pride in students. They view themselves as torchbearers of great traditions. All this propels them to often explore uncharted territory, think unfettered, and bend traditions in a bid to create a better world, especially for women.

Strengths

Liberal Arts and Basic Science: Miranda House offers liberal education in social sciences, humanities and basic sciences to more than 3500 students. Its strength lies in the sweeping range of courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. By design, the college has focused on providing degree programmes in basic disciplinary domains in preference to those with early specialization or a vocational thrust. The distinctive feature is the strong emphasis on academic rigour with crosscutting interdisciplinary explorations that meticulously widen the horizon and connect the world of knowledge to the world of praxis. This has proved to be a good strategy as students armed with sound conceptual foundations are able to pursue many divergent and nonlinear paths, critical for innovative pursuit of knowledge and professional careers in the higher echelons. This is especially true as boundaries between disciplines have become fuzzy but require mastery over the fundamentals, and capacity for in depth learning in emerging areas.

Students and Faculty: The stimulating active learning environment of the college and its eclectic reputation attracts young women with exceptional desire to make a difference to the world. The demographic profile of the college is increasingly that of the country, reflecting the rich socio-cultural diversity. About 60% students are from outside Delhi. Many are first generation learners. The number of those from remote areas and economically weaker sections is on the rise. Having met the high eligibility criteria of admission to the college on their own merit, they dream of a bright future. The college takes great pride in providing culturally sensitive, inclusive and equalizing educational environment that upholds the core values of respect for diversity. Strong foundations are provided by dedicated and responsive faculty of scholars who assist each student fulfill aspirations and reach milestones. Indeed, MH faculties are known for their meritorious profile, versatile talent, and dedication to the cause of liberal education. The administrative and support staff is also competent, meticulously trained and able to keep up with the fast pace of highly diversified, action packed academic and cultural calendar that is the hall mark of the college. Together, the faculty, students, support staff and other stakeholders constitute a unique group that elevates Miranda House to being more than a college. It is best described as a micro cosmos, a self learning organization, a closely bonded, networked community of practice that works towards leveraging the best the world of education has to offer.

Infrastructure: An important facet of the unique enabling environment is the charm of the Miranda House campus itself, hailed as amongst the most aesthetic and well maintained. Originally designed by the renowned architect Walter George, the college is built in warm red brick with long, cool spacious corridors. The sprawling well maintained lawns, the rich plant diversity add to its appeal. The unique architecture of the hostel building makes it a cinematographers delight and inspires all round creativity. Indeed it is a privilege to spend foundational years in the halls of residence. As the college has grown, several new buildings have been added in consonance with the original design. Special care has been taken to preserve the heritage of the pristine architectural glory. This advantage is redoubled by the exceptional state-of-art infrastructure and modern facilities. The college has a strong IT backbone. The entire campus is on NKN and Wi-Fi enabled. The library has the most advanced digital facilities and provides access through Web OPAC. The student computer ratio is 2:1. There are several Digital Resource Centres, innovatively designed Learning Studios, Project-based Learning Labs, and Seminar facilities augmented by a Student Activity Centre. The science departments have sprawling wings and large state-of-art laboratories with multiple sets required for teaching large classes and additionally, advanced level equipment for projects and research work, rarely found in UG institutions. All facilities are shared and augment resource access of all departments.

Active Teaching-Learning Environment: The defining attribute of excellence at Miranda House is the quality of its teaching-learning programmes that are not restricted only to the classroom but include the staggering range of enrichment activities. Although the college functions within the constraints of the overarching curricular framework prescribed by the parent university, it exercises its relative autonomy to create uniquely enabling experiences for the student to help each one accomplish the generic goals of education, and specific course objectives and learning outcomes. Teaching-learning is student centric, highly interactive and innovative, blending a variety of methods including ICT as deemed suitable. Tutorials and continuous assessment are used to identify students learning difficulties and special needs so that no student is left behind and receives adequate support through remedial and bridge courses. Enhancement of language proficiency and communication skills through specially designed courses is high priority. All departments organize vibrant beyond the class enrichment programmes to consolidate learning and introduce students to the frontiers of knowledge and application. The college has strong linkages with highly acclaimed scholars and leverages its vast network with other organizations and institutions across all sectors. To add value to the curriculum, interdisciplinary enquiry is encouraged. The college also offers several Add-on Courses in areas of contemporary interest, such as Bioinformatics and in Silico Medicine; Medical Biotechnology; Green Chemistry; and Operations Research. These help build competencies for new domains of knowledge and the future of work in a globally connected world. In response to national mission on Skill development for youth, the college has introduced several courses that cater to student diversity in collaboration with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). On the other end of the scale, the college nurtures its gifted and advanced learners. It runs the Kings College International Sumer School in Delhi at MH to provide exposure to new pedagogic approaches adopted by international faculty. Students are admitted to reputed universities based on the college's reputation and credibility. The college has several agreements for bilateral exchange with reputed global institutions and is fast moving towards internationalization.

D S Kothari Centre for Research and Innovation in Science Education: The college has established a strong research culture. In 2008, DST invited the college to set up the DSKC at MH in project mode. The entire science faculty became associated with this initiative to set up state-of-art laboratories, initiate UG research and science education outreach activities. The one week long DST INSPIRE Mentorship Prograamme organized each year for more than 250 top one percentile school students from about 40 schools, with active help by faculty and hundred UG mentors is highly regarded. It has been showcased by the government to international visitors and policy makers, such as a delegation led by the Principal Science Advisor to President Barrack Obama. Nobel Laureates Dr. Venkataraman Ramakrishnan and Sir Paul Nurse have addressed this gathering. The 6-week long Summer Camp Flavours of Research: Learning through projects in multidisciplinary contexts draws students from across the colleges of DU and across the country. The enhanced facilities have given a head start to research by faculties and they have used initial work as basis for setting up research in frontier areas, with award of substantial grants from funding agencies to the tune of Rs. . The college was invited by CSIR to set up the Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) programme. Five science departments have received grants under the DBT Star College Scheme. The college has been awarded ## DU Innovation Projects and 3 DU Star Innovation Projects with funding of Rs. since 2011, which is amongst the highest for any college. Some of these have received awards. Dr. Monika Tomar, Department of Physics was the only teacher from the DU Colleges to receive the DU Teaching Excellence Award on the DU Annual Day in May 2016. With many peer reviewed publications to her credit in the frontier area of Material Science, she has applied for two patents.

Vibrant Co-curricular and Extracurricular Activities: At the heart of Miranda House are the hallmark vibrant co-curricular and extracurricular activities that keep the college suffused with energy and make it the cradle of leadership. It is through these self propelled forums that students develop soft skills and network with students of other academic institutions in the league, not just in DU and the country but globally. The NOS, NCC and NSS volunteers are the pride of the college. Extension activities link the college to the world of work and communities. KPMG sponsored Enactus team of students has exemplary social entrepreneurship projects that are steering marginalized women communities towards economic self reliance. The Entrepreneurship Club is creating a new culture with students conceptualizing their own Start Ups and Business Plans. The Cultural Societies at MH have always been strongly competitive and bring laurels. Theatre is the voice of the social conscience as students often choose women centric themes, script, direct and produce in addition to acting. The Parliamentary Debate Manzar attracts the best debaters from across the South Asian Countries. On one occasion the final debate was live telecast by NDTV. The Zenith Model UN is again spectacular in its intellectual depth and oratorical elegance

Social Responsibility and Leadership: It is the socially empowering societies that give to MH its unique identity and impact student lives as responsible citizens. MH Vatavaran, the Environment Society, has given the Green Miranda, Clean Miranda campaign a tangible outcome. The college is a leader in solid waste management with its own Compost Plant and Paper Recycling Plant that also produces high quality hand-made paper and fashions them into products. The college has been awarded the DU Star Innovation Project 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recyle with a grant of Rs. ## crore in recognition of its research efforts in this direction. Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, National Urban brings Municipal Commissioners and Officers to visit the MH Plants as example of best praxis. The Equal Opportunity Cell, the forum for North East Students, Lakshita , the Enabling Society and the Women Development Cell are the four pillars supporting the inclusive edifice of the college. With great sensitivity, they enable students to overlay a new identity, that of the institution, irrespective of their background. This new identity empowers and gives them innate confidence. The Visually Challenged students of MH have year after year swept the Competitive Sports Awards in prestigious para events sending a strong message that there are no impediments and no limit to what a MH student can achieve. WDC in particular ensures that students have a forum for voicing their concerns and can seek timely help when distressed. It leads several campaigns, foremost the international campaign One Billion Rising (OBR) on violence against women. Proud to be a Women's College, MH addresses directly issues related to Gender, Human Rights and Diversity. It ably fulfills its mission of working towards building an equal world for women, launching them on unique career trajectories. The college's success in its mission is gauged by the illustrious alumnae list, difficult to match by any other educational institute in the same league. It does not shy away for its social responsibility in producing engaged citizens. It is the only college that feels that to produce leaders for the country, it has to allow students to take intellectual risks and experience the tumult of Indian politics. Then it is the rare Women's College that is a part of Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) and does not shy away from taking strong stands for betterment of the system. Its belief that women should hone their merit and will power to lead from the front and head political organizations, corporate houses, Research and Development institutions, especially in the rarefied fields of higher academia and the sciences translates into reality. It is this reaffirmation of faith in women and its own dedicated service that gives to MH its formidable reputation and credibility.

Weaknesses

Systemic Constraints: As a constituent college of the DU, MH shares the preeminence as well as the systemic weaknesses of not just the parent university, but the educational ecosystem of the country. As the country makes rapid economic progress, access to higher education is seen as extremely important. The young students from across the country aspire to study at reputed institutions such as at MH. Strongly committed to the cause of women empowerment and also the task of nation building, the college considers itself duty bound to convert each systemic weakness and difficulty into an opportunity for finding constructive solutions.

As a reputed institution, MH is well aware that it cannot afford to be complacent and rest on its laurels. Well established traditions can often become an impediment to progress. To retain its cutting edge, the college remains reflective and responsive to the paradigmatic changes in education, and in particular the needs of the new generation of students. In order to continuously raise the bar and achieve high standards, it identifies and addresses dynamically its situational weaknesses.

As part of a large system, the college faces several problems. The admission policy has inherent fault lines. Even when the demand-supply ratio is high, the policy mandates that every student who meets a declared cutoff or entry level percentage score should be admitted. This often leads to over admission which stretches all resources. There are curricular constraints on account of the prescribed curriculum. Pertinent changes can be affected only through the university system, following procedures that are often tedious. The college feels there should be more interdisciplinary opportunities. There is a felt need for introducing more application courses and those of contemporary interest. These are offered as non-credit, self financing, short duration courses certified by the college. Although the college leverages the relative autonomy in design and delivery of these high quality courses, offered in collaboration with experts drawn from other institutions, the outreach can be scaled up only when these can be placed on the formal platter of credit courses.

Lead-Lag in Implementation: The lead-lag between policy and its implementation is pervasive. Faculty recruitment is often much delayed due to reasons beyond control. To ensure there is no shortfall of faculty, the college appoints ad hoc and guest faculty. Although in interest of organization of teaching-learning, arrangements are made in a timely manner, the system is inherently not very stable. Many teachers tend to teach as they were taught, often by traditional methods. Student centric teaching requires a different orientation. With large scale adoption of ICT and creation of Technology Enabled Learning Environment in the college, continuous professional development of all teachers, including the ad hoc and guest faculty is a vital requirement, not always fulfilled to satisfaction.

Opportunities

New Millennium: These are exciting times for the college as it is well prepared to meet the educational needs of the millennium generation that will enter its portals in 2017. It is ready to leap frog to the future of education that will leverage diverse technologies to build communities of globally connected learners. These are also exciting times for the young students as irrespective of their demographic background, inclusive liberal education at MH will throw open for them a world full of opportunities with unprecedented range of career choices to match their individual aspirations. It will also empower them as young women who are capable of overcoming all barriers and challenges to build successful professional and personal lives; to be achievers and leaders with capacity to give wings to their dreams.

Technology Enabled Active Learning Environments: Having built an excellent ICT infrastructure and deployed blended learning, the college is now focused on how best to leverage the opportunities offered by the National Knowledge Network and the full potential of connectivity. Faculty and students are increasingly making discerning use of MOOCs and lessons available from the best institutions across the world, integrating these in a structured manner to complement and supplement the existing courses. Online transnational collaborations have become feasible. The college offered a semester long Add-on Course titled... in collaboration with George Washington University, USA, that was designed cooperatively entirely through videoconference calls; ran almost in tandem at the two institutions; and the student cohorts collaborated online on projects. The success of this model of collaboration has opened up enormous possibilities.

Linkages, Networks and Collaborations: The college is networked more than ever before through various enrichment activities with other organizations in the academic, corporate and social sectors. The Add-on courses have cooperative teaching by experts from these organizations. There are formal agreements for cooperation such as the Science Setu Programme with National Institute of Immunology (NII) where scientists from the premiere research institution volunteer to mentor the undergraduates through lectures and other interactive programmes, providing access to advanced research laboratories. The Career and Education Advancement Centre is using more effective channels for creating enhanced industry interactions, internship and apprenticeship opportunities. The college is registering for these services with startups matching student interest and merit to opportunities available across sectors.

Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship: With increasing emphasis on project-based learning, Innovation Projects, UG Research and Advanced Research Programmes at the college, students have a head start. Faculty and students are forging productive collaborative teams, increasingly availing opportunities to present their work at seminars and conferences, and focusing on producing novel work publishing it in peer reviewed journals. The eye is on patents. MH students are tuned in to the Digital India, Start up India, Stand Up India initiatives of the government. Many have started their own entrepreneurial ventures soon after leaving college, such as Ghoomophiro.com and Wishberry. The range of sectors on which young alumnae are leaving a mark is a matter of great pride for the college.

Challenges

Changing Paradigms: The higher education system in the country is undergoing unprecedented transformation. As a top ranked central university, DU and its premiere colleges are at the vanguard of innovation and change, as also key partners in the process of rebooting higher education. While MH upholds modernization of antiquated educational systems and is strongly committed to the national agenda on excellence, equity and expansion of higher education, it often experiences the challenge of inherent contradictions in implementation. Broadly, these arise because of lead-lag between the adoption of change and the preparedness of the systems on ground to carry out implementations without compromising on quality. Further, there are challenges that arise from uneven quality of educational background of students at entry level despite them meeting the eligibility criteria. There is a felt need for normalization of marks awarded by different senior secondary boards; changes in policy so that scholastic talent and not marks are the criteria for admission. Diversity in academic standards, variable pre-requisite academic preparation, and deficits in language proficiency require concerted remedial action. Rising aspirations and heightened student mobility across the country that makes the young to gravitate towards urban centres of excellence requires strengthening of support structures. MH is the preferred college for a large number of outstation women. Only 10% can be provided on campus accommodation. Committed to security of all its students, the college proactively works towards creating safety networks. With changes in demographic profile, there is also need to raise student bursaries, and endowment funds for greater financial support.

Leveraging full potential of CBCS and Student Centric Teaching-Learning Programmes: Macro-level curriculum reform requires well thought out policies; micro-detailed courses of study; well-defined changeover of statutes, ordinances, rules and guidelines; and well-calibrated modification in all collateral processes. Foremost, these require adequate infrastructure, teaching-learning resources, and training of faculty so that the curricular changes are not merely accommodated but also efficiently assimilated by the community of stakeholders. Any shortfall on these counts prevents effective implementation to the detriment of the students. Specifically, over the last four years, the overarching framework of the degree programme has undergone radical changes. The college has tried its level best to uphold its legal and moral obligations in letter and in spirit, often in the face of great difficulties. With forbearance, each challenge has been converted into an opportunity. The college has used the intellectual capital of its own faculty to make up for lacunae detected in prescribed curriculum. Creative teaching-learning within the classroom and enrichment activities beyond the classroom have ensured successful achievement of learning outcomes. With peer support and formal capacity building programmes, the faculty have been adequately motivated, oriented and professionally enabled to handle changes in the syllabi. Under CBCS, the college has leveraged the system to provide students maximum available flexibility in choice of courses. Proper monitoring and timely procurement has ensured students have the necessary course material. The college has taken a quantum leap in digital infrastructure to remain on the leading edge as a knowledge based community, leveraging e-resources. It has evolved as a networked community with Learning Anytime Anywhere as its motto. Its own proclivity towards converting the gardens, arcades and unconventional spaces into classrooms has helped the college to overcome the impediments of shortage of brick and mortar classrooms. The Wi-Fi enabled campus and excellent student-computer ratio has given the additional boost. Well trained in use of computer-based management systems, administrative staff has been able to provide glitch free logistical support.

The college views beyond the classroom activities as essential for nurturing talent and developing a sense of social responsibility, soft skills and leadership qualities. It also encourages UG research. Constraints on time and cognitive overload often prevents many students from taking benefit of all the opportunities provided. There is need to introduce Credits for co-curricular activities and also Research Credits so that education can become more student centric.

Leveraging full potential of global opportunities: With increasing internationalization of education, the college has established bilateral exchange progammes with several international universities. However, pending implementation of credit transfer scheme and promised mobility, it is not possible for students to avail the full potential of the partnerships. The college then takes recourse to creating short duration bilateral exchange programmes. Students who cannot afford to travel abroad can experience international immersion through those programmes wherein the college hosts the international visitors.

Enhancing Infrastructure: The College has ably overcome several major infrastructural crises in the last decade. The terrain is the lowest lying region of the university and inherently has a rather high water table that has impacted existing construction and resulted in major degeneration of certain building blocks. In 2004, the Principal's Residence was declared structurally unsafe and was reconstructed in 2010 with UGC grants. In 2011, one block of non teaching staff quarters housing 16 families was also declared unsafe for habitation and families had to be evacuated and accommodated in quarters borrowed from the School of Open Learning, DU. UGC has sanctioned funds for reconstruction of these quarters and work has been awarded. Other existing residential quarters for both, teachers and non teaching staff also require continuous maintenance for safe habitation. The work on construction of a new academic block was inordinately delayed due to the college's proximity to a protected heritage monument and challenges in procuring statutory clearances from civic agencies; the work is on in full swing. Once completed this building will be the first GRIHA rated green building in the University. In September 2015, structural faults were noticed in the auditorium and it is currently being repaired and retrofitted. The college has found technical solutions to these inherent problems. It has worked relentlessly to successfully meet all construction challenges; it has raised adequate funds and used also its own resources to undertake development and maintenance. It takes pride that it continues to have the best infrastructure and state-of-art facilities.