The Institute of Distance & Open Learning, University of Gauhati, Assam. It began operations in 1998 as the "PostGraduate Correspondence School" catering mainly to the needs of students who had limited resources and who, therefore, did not have full access to higher education. In the beginning, therefore, the stress was on conducting a "correspondence" course admitting students who were either employed, or residing in remote areas, or for some reason or the other could not gain admission into the master's programme in the university. We had to mainly then, give some lectures for such students (on extra remuneration), meet them to 'counsel' them, and take care of their examination requirements. This continued for some time, for about two or three years.The humble beginnings of any institution is always a phase of dedicated struggle and unswerving commitment. Somehow, all those associated with this organisation stayed on.
How have things progressed beyond this dismal beginning ? There were institutional as well as larger social changes, too complex to be described here. How institutions, and perceptions of institutions change, may make for a niche in the larger history of people's ideas. There was a deeper change in the role of educational institutions at this time - the early 2000s. A widespread feeling, barely noticeable, and hardly ever voiced, was in the air that it was necessary to educate more, the less privileged, sections of society. Perhaps there was revenue to be earned. Perhaps, we too could make it to the global circuits. Meanwhile, other, lesser known, institutions with dubious credentials were pulling away all the bright young children. That was the time perhaps when our institution began its forward march.