Monday, April 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Punjabi University crisis: as the VC sees it

MAY I invite your kind attention to your article "What ails Indian universities?" appearing in the Frankly Speaking column of The Tribune of March 29, 2002.

I am not bothered as to what opinion rightly or wrongly, you hold on whether I was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala "on merit" or "on political and other petty considerations," because the whole academic and literary world knows my standing, as a scholar, poet and critic, of national and international recognition, with the highest doctorate degree and over two dozen books in English and Punjabi in the realms of Sikhism, poetry and literary criticism, with a distinction of having lectured abroad since 1973 when I represented India at International Literary Conference held in Moscow.

But I am shocked at your observation that "looking at the nature of the charges levelled" against me, I "should have gracefully bowed out". Your conception of "gracefully" seems to be that when absurd and wild charges are concoctedly levelled against a Vice-Chancellor, defaming, humiliating and harassing him, after registration of two FIRs to force him out, then, the Vice-Chancellor should cowardly quit, instead of fighting back, single-handedly, against such pre-planned persecution campaign sensationalised in a section of the Press. I, as Vice-Chancellor, being true to my conscience and commitment to upholding values, have consciously chosen the path of standing up, rather than going down in a manner that you call "gracefully bowing out". I am amused, to say the lest, that on the one hand you talk of academic autonomy, on the other hand you lament lack of a provision in the University Act empowering the Government of the day to kick out a Vice-Chancellor! Your conceptions of "gracefully" and "academic autonomy" are marvellous semantic innovations, but I am sorry to say there would be few takers of the same!

I hope you would gracefully publish my letter in the Tribune at the earliest.

JASBIR SINGH AHLUWALIA, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala

( We have published Dr Ahluwalia’s letter as it was received)


Grave charges: The previous VC, Mr J.S. Puar, and the present VC, Mr J.S. Ahluwalia, both have faced grave charges. Till the allegations are proved and established and they get a verdict of conviction from the competent courts, they are innocent and, therefore, newspapers must not give so much space to such items. Such items demoralise people in line for the post of VC.


Measly pension

Sepoy Sher Singh of Sikh Regt died fighting in J&K in October, 1948. He was awarded the Vir Chakra. He was unmarried. Initially, his father was given a family pension of Rs 8 p.m. His father died in 1958 and the pension ceased. Jarnail Singh, his brother, has been struggling since then to get the dues. The Punjab Government and the Defence Welfare Department have dug in their heels to stop anything to be given to him.

Lt Col K.S. GREWAL (retd), Chandigarh

Begging menace

In the urban areas of Punjab one finds herds of beggars in almost all public places. NGOs, social groups and political parties should tackle this nuisance urgently.


HP pensioners

Till date Himachal pensioners stand deprived of many benefits being enjoyed by Punjab pensioners such as old age allowance at the rate of 5% and 10%, the facilities of LTC and fixed medical allowance @ Rs 250 p.m.

The main demand of the retirees of both Punjab and Himachal — at least 50 per cent pension of the minimum of the revised grade of the post held at the time of retirement — has not been met yet.

S. N. SACHHAR, Dharamsala

Avoidable harassment

I am a senior citizen (78 plus) and work as a consultant for a number of units in Ludhiana. The units face lot of harassment in their day-to-day working. Besides Central Excise & Customs, they have to deal with income tax, sale tax, labour, PF department, Factory Act officials etc. Inspectors and other officers come for getting their palms greased. They come not to increase the revenue of the department, but their own.

T. R. TANDON, IRS (retd), Ludhiana


Dabwali tragedy

APROPOS of the editorial “Dabwali is not dead” it is not generally known that the D.A.V. Managing Committee collected about Rs 5 crore for Dabwali fire victims. It had asked 600 schools and colleges under its control to donate liberally. In addition the management received donations from N.R.Is. The prime responsibility for compensation to the fire victims rests with the D.A.V. School management which had organised the function where the tragedy took place. It is not known if any compensation has been given to the victims or the kin of those who died. The matter requires a probe.

M. R. SHARMA, Jagraon



The mess in colleges

The decision of the new Congress Government to withdraw grants from the private colleges is welcome. Let colleges be finally self-dependent, charging market rate fees and paying market rate salaries. If unaided schools can provide better education than the aided schools, why can't the un-aided colleges do so?

Secondly, the plus one and two classes should be banned from the degree colleges in Punjab as is the practice in all other states. These two steps will clean the mess in the colleges.


Learn from West

It was amusing to read “Poison of western economic thought” by M.S.N. Menon. Instead of criticising the Western world we should learn from it, just like the Japanese and the Chinese have done so that the entire country can benefit, not just the upper caste Brahmins.


Tree felling

Himachal has often been in the grip of forest mafia. The felling of devdaar, keil and cheer trees in the military area and right under the nose of the Kasauli Cantonment Board is shocking.

The Himachal Forest Corporation too seems to be turning a blind eye to this.


Food at IIT

Meals supplied to the students at the IIT, Kharagpur, are of very poor quality. Neither green vegetables are served nor milk, butter and cheese.

The students pay a good amount to the Institute for meals. However, they depend on potatoes and biscuits.

NILOFAR, Amritsar

Exam & traffic jam

A number of candidates from the Amritsar area could not appear in the Combined Graduate Level (Prel.) Examination held by the Staff Selection Commission at Jalandhar on March 25 at 2 p.m because of a traffic jam for about three hours between Beas and Kartarpur.

Most of the students had to return home. Officials carried out road maintenance work when traffic was at its peak. Also being a Sunday, many pilgrims were visiting the Beas dera.

SUNIL MANHAS, Swar (Hoshiarpur)

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