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Economics of Delhi University

Market update: Admission applications surge to a high of 2,50,220 applicants amid nationwide brilliance in academic performance, the market gives out 54,000 seats.

Delhi University. As lips curl into smiles upon admission, flour into bread pakoras and ambitious students into CEO’s, DU teaches one to always be on their toes and live life to its fullest. Contradictory to its geographical name, the university boasts of an amalgamative personality, serving as a melting pot, as it brings together a multitude of people from different socio-ethnic and financial backgrounds. This article seeks to look at quintessential characteristics of DU from an economic perspective.

Vishwavidyalaya metro stations’ exit gate and student accommodation lanes serve as the marketplace for the e-rickshaw. Despite constantly being in the spotlight of scrutiny by both the government and the students, the ubiquitous presence of these battery-powered vehicles makes them an essential characteristic of DU. More recently, one of the major struggles of the e-rickshaw wallahs was put to rest as the Union Transport Ministry permitted them to ply on roads without possessing a permit.

Outnumbering the demand, desperate e-rickshaw wallahs induce a strong sense of importance in students given to the excess supply of this commodity. While this excess supply turns into a boon for passengers, lending them exclusive rights of selection and imposition of more conditions, it is a bane for the humble cycle-rickshaw wallah as he fights against their cartelization. A normal cycle rickshaw costs around Rs.15,000 whereas its electronic counterpart starts around Rs. 80,000. No laws have been strung around regulating ownership of these rickshaws, allowing people to give out multiple rickshaws to those who cannot afford outright purchase at exorbitantly priced rental schemes even shooting up to Rs. 800 per day. The producers of these services also turn a blind eye to the actual need of the consumers in pursuit of higher profit making.

At Delhi University, core-consumers of Metallica shirts and crop tops collude seamlessly with worshippers of B. K Goyal and the 10-year-question-paper-book. Come November, this question paper booklet would have become the Bible of every student, acquiring the characteristic of a necessary commodity for every study table. “We have to keep replenishing the stock, sometimes even daily in the months of October and November. Almost 50 to 60 booklets go out per day. The demand is inelastic, especially when the exams come near but we don’t hike the prices because academic benefit for students matters more to us than profits”, said Pavan Agarwal, owner of Agarwal & Sons, a popular bookshop in Kamla Nagar.

DU serves sunshine on a plate. The hot and fiery ‘all-in-one’ Maggi at Tom Uncle’s Maggi Point never ceases to disappoint. Cut across to Hudson Lane and Satya Niketan and the plethora of cafés calling out to you, which instantly starts an automatic dance by your taste buds in the glory of such delectable food. It’s interesting to see that all through DU, most of the food joints remain clustered together. This clustering model can be understood through game theory and Hotelling’s model of spatial competition. If Big Yellow Door was the only restaurant, they would have the complete right to determine their geographical location and attract consumers to that specific place. However, since QD’s and Ricos also exist, BYD will try to establish itself in a place where it can capture maximum market share. All competing restaurants are simultaneously making the same decision, trying to maximize their individual benefit through repeated action, which means the resulting stores end up clustered together. These individual decisions lead them to arrive at the same conclusion, which is the Nash equilibrium. The concept of nash equilibrium entails the basic idea that a unilateral change of strategy by any restaurant will provide no gain to it if the strategies of all the other players remain unchanged. Even if BYD tries to break the norm and set up in Kamla Nagar, it will either fail and stop, or succeed and attract more restaurants, which will eventually lead to clustering.

DU also basks in the glow of the highest academic rankings and fascinating alumni. The education system can be seen as a production process, where the inputs of faculty, industry exposure, academic capital, technology and entrepreneurship are applied to a ‘fresher’, to churn out an excellent performance, which ensures quality of the product. Such a process is crucial to nation building, as it adds to the economic, political and cultural prosperity. Students are driven by the need to push their individual ‘production possibility curves’ to greater heights. While analyzing this, it is also crucial to throw light on the cost of such production, as well as the viability and growth of such production systems. While direct cost includes tuition fee, other costs like the opportunity cost of forgone earnings due to enrollment in college and government expenditure on providing educational infrastructure should also be considered. Extensive growth of such a production system (in terms of enrollment) is imperative, as graduate degrees are a great investment for personal growth and financial development. A Delhi University Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) student landing a whooping international pay package of Rs 1.02 crore validates DU’s claim of being the best investment avenue.

It’s in the library that the future IAS officer scans through the newspaper, in the front lawns that the idea of a successful start-up germinates and in Delhi University that these bright young minds realize the beauty of college life.

‘DU’ have what it takes to survive at this circus?

By Arshita Malhotra.

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