The idea of a university in Delhi only arose after the transfer of the capital of British India from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911.
“Once they realized Delhi was the seat of power for centuries and it was centrally located, it became very important for the British to consolidate their power in the region for political reasons. Until and unless they establish themselves as the seat of power in Delhi, they could not have full control over the region. So they decided to move the capital from Calcutta to Delhi in 1911,” Professor Thakran said.
A year later, Delhi was separated from Punjab.
“Universities in Punjab and UP seemed too far for Delhi students. At that time, universities were proliferating in British India and the princely states”
But did Delhi need its own university? It was a question that the administrators were thinking about.
“After the transfer of the capital to Delhi, some good administrators realized that since Delhi happens to be a new capital for British India, it would also be good to have a strong educational institution, so that their interests be protected,” explained Professor Thakran.
But this question of establishing a university in Delhi was only resolved with the recommendations of the Sadler University Commission.
To examine the shortcomings of higher education in Calcutta, this commission was appointed in 1917, with Michael Sadler as chairman. One of his recommendations was that Indian universities should be reorganized “as unitary, teaching and residential institutions”.
Thus, affiliation to the University of the Punjab could no longer be permitted. Furthermore, it was thought that a government-funded university would thwart attempts by nationalists to establish their own institutions.
On January 16, 1922, the Delhi University Bill was introduced in the Imperial Legislative Assembly to establish and incorporate a Teaching and Affiliate University in Delhi, and the Act came into force on May 1 1922, Viceroy Lord Reading being appointed First Chancellor while Hari Singh Gour as First Vice-Chancellor.