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VCs must be treated with respect

Prof AMRIK SINGH’s article, “Treat VCs with respect: Punjab move was against law” (July 5), was thought provoking. I agree with his opinion that “we are living in a period when politicians have forgotten that universities must not only perform but must also be enabled to command respect”. Clearly, the state governments should not meddle in the affairs of the universities.

In March 2006, I spent some time on the campus of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with my son. We
saw how the Americans created an infrastructure for achieving academic excellence. I remembered Sardar Partap Singh Kairon’s contribution to education as the Punjab chief minister.

I told my son how Kairon had sanctioned a primary school and promptly made it functional in our native village following a verbal request from my father, who was the village head. It was quite normal for Kairon to replicate in Punjab what he saw in the University of Michigan.


The writer is not fully justified in saying that Kairon failed to develop in Punjab the conventions of American education system, which he observed from close quarters in the US as a student. In fact, God didn’t give Kairon sufficient time.

The major reasons for the deterioration in the political and educational systems are the decline in moral values and scant regard for rules and regulations. If most teachers - from primary to university level - follow the footsteps of Dr A.C. Joshi and refuse to kowtow to politicians, they will command respect from all sections and the politicians will not dare to harm them.

T.S. SHERGILL, Chandigarh


In his piece, Prof Amrik Singh mentioned some reputed VCs like A.C. Joshi who were renowned for their administrative acumen in the early sixties. At that time, VCs were appointed strictly on merit and political interference in the appointment of VCs was quite unheard of.

During my stint in PAU Ludhiana as Comptroller in 1971, I had seen how Dr M.S. Randhawa, ICS, VC of PAU, was held in high esteem by the then Chief Minister
Giani Zail Singh. In 1973, when there was a problem regarding reduction of grants
to the university, Dr Randhawa refused to contact any minister and asked me to tackle the issue.

Later, there was a students’ agitation and Dr Randhawa was unhappy with the working of Prithpal Singh, Director, Students’ Welfare. He divested him of the charge of the management of hostels and other activities of students’ welfare. Prithpal’s brother, the late S. Balwant Singh, former Finance Minister, appealed to Giani Zail Singh to intervene. Dr Randhwa and I met Giani Zail Singh. He was courteous and received us at the gate. He requested Dr Randhwa to forgive Pritpal Singh provided he expressed regrets for his acts of omission and commission.

Though the Governor, as the Chancellor, is the constitutional authority for the appointment of VCs, for law and order, finances and so on, the universities cannot work smoothly without the helpful attitude of the state government.

M.R. BALI, PAU Comptroller (retd), Ludhiana

Slush money

I read B.R. Lall’s article (July 12). He has rightly said that our government should prevail upon the Swiss government for exposing names of depositors who have stashed ill-gotten money in Swiss banks. And they must be brought to book.

If special efforts are made by the GoI and governments of other countries, we can achieve some success. Gandhiji used to say that rich persons are the trustees of extra wealth. What kind of trustees are these depositors? They are making Switzerland richer.


Onus on the West

I read the editorial, “Biofuels as culprits”. The more we move away from nature, flout its norms and exploit its resources, the more it is punishing us. Now we are facing the shortage of food, fuel and space. The developed and developing countries are responsible for this.

Thus, the onus of rectifying this imbalance lies is on the Western countries. They should set an example by resorting to damage control methods like giving priority
to food crops instead of fuel crops, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and
encourage cycling.


WTO: Search for a compromise

It is sad that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Geneva have failed once again. These talks appear to be a periodic exercise in futility. The Americans and the Europeans are blaming China and India for the impasse and vice versa.

The positions in both camps have hardened to such an extent that an early compromise is a remote possibility. China is known the world over for its intransigence. It treats its neighbours, including India, with utter disdain. But under Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s image is that of a considerate economic power.

Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, who led India’s negotiating team, should
know that in the negotiations no one fully gets what he wants. One has to try
for a compromise somewhere in the middle. But Mr Kamal Nath does not want to yield any ground.

If the impasse continues, India will be a loser in the long run. Smaller and poorer nations are suffering. An honourable deal will bring down inflation all over the world. China is notorious for its perpetual bad behaviour. India, in following China, does not cover itself with glory either.



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