This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aditya Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

From One Student To Another: What You Need To Know About ECA Admissions At DU

More from Aditya Jha

By Aditya Jha:

The procedural enrollment into the prestigious Delhi University is a daunting task, one that needs students to be on their feet at all times and be ready for the uphill task of standing in long queues, which is subject to IF you have cleared the ultimate battle of “cut-offs” and are meeting the extremely unrealistic standard of 75+ at the very least to enroll in respectable program of BA.

Students looking to get into the Delhi University in prestigious courses like B. Com Pass or B. Com Honors, Economics Honors, Mathematics or just simply any honors course – a mere 76% even though bracketed as “Distinction”, still won’t get you a seat in the university.

To begin with, there’s very little to no knowledge surrounding the ECA quota in Delhi University. Sure, you may already know that 5% of seats in Delhi University are booked under the ECA and Sports Quota but what exactly is the ‘alien’ process in getting shortlisted under this quota? I plan to answer just that.

It was a matter of coincidence that while applying to Delhi University this year – which mind you, went completely online from this year on –  and so were the ECA and Sports trials. Till a year ago, ECA and Sports trials were held by respective colleges and there was no streamlining in the system, the waive-off limit was not set and selected students even got 20% as waive-off to get their desired course.

What Is ECA?

ECA in essence is a quota for students who are brilliant in extracurricular activities like Dance, Music, Debating, Acting, Photography and similar activities. The complete list is available on Delhi University’s official website, along with names of colleges and the quota that they reserve for a specific activity.

In my case, I applied under the Debating quota (English). The general reservation in an individual college is around 3-4 seats for English debaters, it can be lesser – depending upon applications received.

What Is Centralized ECA?

ECA trials as I mentioned, till last year was held in college premises respectively. If for instance, you applied to Hans Raj and Kirori Mal under Acting category, you had to visit the colleges on dates that they gave for auditions.

There was always the probability of 2 colleges of your prime choice having the auditions/trials on the same date and maybe on the same time, in which case – you could only choose one. This is where centralized procedure according to me streamlined the whole system and made it easier for one to not worry about duplication dates for the same trials in 2 different colleges.

DU ECA Admissions - Article Image 1
Source: Ibtida – The Dramatics Society Of Hindu College/Facebook

Is Centralized ECA System Transparent?

In all honesty, I’ve no idea how the whole system worked college-wise. I’d personally want to think it was transparent even in the past and while we may raise fingers on whether it was as transparent as it was this year or not, we must remember that it has only been a couple of years since ECA became part of DU application – hence, labelling decentralized trials as unfair will be inapt on my part.

I can give the readers an idea about the centralized system that has been formulated this year. Each activity under ECA had 2 rounds 1) preliminary round and 2) final trials. The preliminary round was only qualifying and the final round is where it all counted – that’s all that we were made to know before the trials. The transparency factor is just that none of the participants were made to know 1) of the judges and 2) of the topics on which to speak.

The Preliminary Round Of ECA

I appeared for the preliminary round at SGTB Khalsa college and a token of appreciation ought to go to the college staff which impeccably handled the students on Day 1 (that’s when I appeared, the 5 days were divided alphabetically).

Day 1 at SGTB Khalsa saw the turn-out comparatively lesser than expected. Out of 1300 applicants that applied under ECA Quota, English Debate – Day 1 saw only 90 appear, I’m unaware of the tally in the next 4 days but I don’t think it would have crossed 1000.

The preliminary round was set as this: –  1) 1 minute to speak 2) no extra time will be given 3) choose a topic and whether you’re for or against it. The preparation time was around 5-10 minutes per participant.

The judges were very strict about the timing factor but I must admit that they were very fair.  For the record, the panel consisted of 3 members – 2 men and a woman.

After having spoken, I was told that the final list will release on 14th of July at 11:00 AM, all those shortlisted need to appear for final round.

Let me state at this point, the 14th of July saw some chaos but I can hardly blame the DU administration, the insurmountable task of screening over 9000 applications in gross across 12-14 different ECA activities is not easy and that’s why the delay meant that the final list appeared 12 hours late on 14th of July i.e. 11:00 PM, my name was in the list of 117 shortlisted for the final trials. The very next morning was the day of the final trials.

Final Trials:

The final trials for English debate saw 117 students getting selected from a probable 1300.

The teachers and administration at SGTB Khalsa College was again at the pinnacle of helping the students and ensuring that everything takes place smoothly. The students waited around an hour and a half – which cleared out some tension before the judges started the final process of selection. This time, there were groups of 10 selected, with students going one by one to speak in front of the judges.

The format was as follows:

  • 4 minutes in total devoted to every individual speaker
  • 3 minutes to speak for or against the topic given
  • One interjection from the judges, 1 minute to answer to the interjection

Having waited around 2 hours, I was given my topic. The batch of 10 students had around half an hour to prepare content to speak as the group prior to us was still going in front of judges and speaking – the preparation time was more than enough and teachers were making sure that no student used mobile phones.

The panel coincidentally was same that heard me on the first day of the trials but having spoken to other students from different days of the trials; I came to know that the panel was different for all the 5 days – which is definitely something that ensured transparency in enabling fair trials and no unfair advantage.

I was given my allocated 3 minutes to speak and the judges very kindly and with extreme attention noted the details in my delivery and seemed very keen to hear some interesting points – that’s all that one looks for in a good debater, the interesting points that you can bring to the table!

DU ECA Admissions - Article Images (2)
Source: Verve – The Choreography Society Of SRCC/Facebook

The Final List And An Important Bit Of Information:

The list of shortlisted candidates (90 in total) for English debate was announced on 18th of July and the scores could be seen on the DU portal. Each applicant had to log into their IDs and see their exact marks.

I was given 63 out of a possible 75 in the final trials but there was one integral part of my application that I believe was scored unfairly i.e. the certificate marks. I got only 3 out of 25 in certificate marks – even though I had a state level certificate having stood 2nd in the competition.

For those of you unaware, many of the students that got selected in final trials got “Ineligible” for their certificates and were marked zero. Certificate marks made 25 out of a possible 100 under ECA marks and it’s under this ECA marks that students get selected.

This is how the final marking and eligibility works:

Let’s say that you apply to the BA Program at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College which has a cutoff of 87%. You’ve an 80% in your Standard 12th results. If you clear your final round, you get a +15 on your aggregate. Along with you, someone with a 75% applies for the same program. Ideally, you’d think that you’ll get it as +15 on 80% is more than +15 on 75% but that’s completely wrong.

If the student with 75% marks gets 58 in his trials out of 100 (75 for final trials and 25 for certificate) but you get 56, the student with 75% makes it to Shaheed Bhagat Singh College.

The only thing that the admission department will check is whether the student with 75% is eligible with +15 for the program, this year the BA Program in the SBSC had cutoff at 87% and therefore a student with 80% as well as one with 75% would’ve been eligible and in which case, whoever had higher marks in ECA finals gets the ECA slot.

Hence, my advice to students appearing next year under ECA quota will be:

  • Start preparing yourself with all the current buzz and some important social issues (for students appearing under debate category. Work on your vocabulary, speak slowly and clearly – the judges are there to hear you, that’s all.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the fact that students with great debating backgrounds are appearing from all around India. If you’re from a school that’s not massively popular across India or the state that you belong to, doesn’t matter. What matters is the quality of your performance, be it any ECA activity. Judges don’t see your school; they grasp your ability to perform in a crunch time.
  • A student can upload a maximum of 3 certificates, minimum 1. My mistake was that I uploaded only 1 certificate as rest were either participatory or winner certificates in inter-school competition. If you appear next year, do ensure that you utilize all your 3 certificates (if you have 3) or else one works.
  • To parents: please make sure that you safely preserve the certificates of your children, as they’ll come in handy while applying under ECA quota. Do also ask your children to request for certificates in whichever competition that they appear in, school or out of school – be it participatory or winning certificate. In my case, I appeared in many debate competitions outside of school where I was in the top 3 but I got cash rewards and not certificates, sadly the cash rewards are not something that account for, while applying in ECA quota.

In core, the dream of getting into Delhi University was distant for me – I got 76% in Standard 12th (Commerce Stream) and DU closes its doors on any student with below 80% to even take up BA Discipline course in Commerce. But, the criticality of getting into DU can range from different aspects 1) financial feasibility 2) quality of education 3) weightage of degree in professional world 4) courses and so on and so forth. Thus, even for students who get around 65%, a 15% waive off is massive and at least gives some possibility to get into DU.

DU ECA Admissions - Article Images (3)
Source: Cognitio – The Debating & Quizzing Society, DSC/Facebook

Another way to look at ECA is, for students with over 80% and perhaps 85%, if you clear ECA with good marks, you can get into the most prestigious Delhi University colleges as your marks will become a full 100% (for students with 85% or more)- surely not a mere task.

To conclude, the centralization of ECA according to me is a good move. It enables a sense of transparency as none of the students know the judges beforehand and neither do they know the student’s in-charge at respective colleges, there’s not even a slight chance of any unjustified favors to any particular student – if you deserve an ECA spot on merit, you will get it.

My only area of concern is the allocation of marks on the basis of certificates. Some sort of guidelines ought to come out on why some students were given 0 and why students, like me with state certificates got just 3 marks out of 25 – it’ll help students applying next year to know exact know how’s of the system and upload documents accordingly.

It’s only fitting to thank the Delhi University administration and teachers for coming up with the idea of an ECA quota, which I believe has tremendous potential in the future. Parents and children will not only like the fact that extracurricular are rewarded but I believe ECA helps a student measure the stress of education with a few hours of fun – participating in an activity of choice, it’s a matter of refreshing and recharging one self. If this hobby starts to get rewarded, everyone’s a winner.

Take campus conversations to the next level. Become a YKA Campus Correspondent today! Mail us at

You can also subscribe to the Campus Watch Newsletter, here.


Banner image source: LSR Dramatics Society/Facebook
You must be to comment.

More from Aditya Jha

Similar Posts

By Priyasmita Dutta

By Prabhanu Kumar Das

By shreya ghosh

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below