Four students enrolled for three engineering courses in the first year.
FEleven students joined in the second year, seven of them diploma holders, while no student took admission in the three-year engineering courses offered by Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University (ABVHU), Bhopal, this year.
Not surprisingly, the first university to offer engineering courses in Hindi is planning to shut down.
ABVHU had introduced courses in Nagar (Civil), Vidyut (Electrical) and Yantriki (Mechanical) and had been praised for promoting Hindi by the state and the Central governments.
"The concept is good, but due to lack of awareness, people don't understand it. I don't think we should continue with the course. Spending crores of rupees in developing infrastructure, constructing classrooms and appointing 20 teachers for just a few students is not worth it," says Ramdev Bhardwaj, the university's newly appointed Vice-Chancellor.
"ABVHU is an autonomous body and they can take their decision on their own," said minister of state for technical education Deepak Joshi.
Undeterred by the experience, the university nevertheless introduced four par medical diploma and certificate courses in Hindi for dialysis technicians, X-ray techncians, medical laboratory technicians and operation theatre technicians with 50 seats each in the 2017-18 session.
The university had written to various IITs, expressing its readiness to enrol students who were struggling to learn engineering in English at the IITs. But learning engineering in Hindi has turned out to be a daunting task. Textbooks on engi- neering subjects in Hindi are rare and teachers rarer. The university currently has around four ad-hoc teachers and not a single permanent engineering teacher.
There are other reasons also for the poor response. The engineering courses are not recognised by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). While the foundation stone of a proposed 50-acre campus was laid at Mugalia Kot village on the outskirts of Bhopal in 2013, the university, as of now, operates out of two rented premises -- classes are held at the old Vidhan Sabha building while its administrative office is located at Patanjali Bhavan in the Bhoj university campus. As such, the engineering wing has no space of its own.
The first ABVHU Vice-Chancellor, Mohanlal Chheepa, claimed, "Even if we get just one student, we are committed to starting the course from this year and continue to do so for upcoming two-three years. We are swimming against the tide. English took roots in the last 250 years; Hindi will require a few years to catch up." "About 80 per cent of engineering students in MP come from rural areas and are comfortable only in Hindi. Students who enrol with us will have no difficulty because we will provide them online access to dictionaries for quick translation," said a senior official involved in the admissions process, adding that those who were questioning the university's preparedness were "anti-Hindi". Guess what they would be saying now..