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Pass is Passable; Honors Honored?

It seems caste system is prevalent even today. And no, education doesn’t help. Yavnika Khanna reports from DU.

“Yes, a B.Com alright, but which course?”
“Oh, she is just so BA-pass types”.

Move over ‘bindaas’, ‘fatccha’, ‘g-jams’ and ‘K-nags’. The latest addition to the DU-bious dictionary is the phrase “BA Pass type”. It highlights the severity of the Pass-Honours divide existing on the campus – which consequently elevates honours courses to an “Oh-so-cool” level.

In 1943, the University of Delhi was given a federal structure i.e. individual colleges were considered constituent units of the University. In 1953, a distinction was introduced between ‘constituent’ and ‘affiliated’ colleges. The former were allowed to organize both Pass and Honours Courses at the under- graduate level.

Pass courses, unfortunately are considered to be the inferior of the two. So much so that the sentiment shared by many has taken a form of prejudice. Take a look at what Eshita has to say, “You can just tell a Pass student from an Honours student by looking at them. It’s so obvious- Pass students are different species since they dress weirdly and move around in cliques. “

“It is just assumed (and rightly so) that one opted for pass because one didn’t get honors. Some students still go for pass courses in better colleges than honours courses in less popular ones.” maintains Swati Chawla who is studying BA English (with honours please!) at Gargi College.

Pass courses have different eligibility conditions (read lower cut-off marks) and a generalist approach towards its curriculum. “In fact the norm is that BA/BCom honours students who are not promoted and do not wish to repeat the year shift to a Pass course. Pass students however, have no chance of doing a great job at academics and upgrading to honors. Maybe that’s why a pass course is looked down upon”, reasons Smriti Vaid, Deshbandhu college.

In some DU colleges, inter-departmental festivals exclude the participation of Pass course students. When asked the rationale for this from the authorities they are told that many activities like seminars would be beyond the syllabus and understanding of the Pass students.

“The students assume many things just when I tell them I am doing a BA. I did not score as terribly as they think. I managed a decent score, yet the cut-offs spiral-up each year. “ retorts Smriti. “It is not that the pass course is poorer but the Honours course is more valued as an educational degree”, opines Kriti Mittal, studying BA Economics honours at LSR.

There’s more to college life than Honours or Pass courses. Isn’t it high time we stepped out of this narrow mindset?!

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