Tuesday, January 25, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Universities in Punjab

THIS is with reference to the letter “Why new universities?” by Mr Sukhdev Singh (USA) published on January 18. He has expressed his strong anguish mainly due to a flimsy personal problem relating to the admission of his grandson in California. Yet I know scores of technically qualified students from Punjab who are studying in the USA and elsewhere in different institutions of repute and have no problem whatsoever.

His belated criticism of the opening of two new universities speaks of an unacademic attitude. There was a time when Panjab University served the need for all the northern states. With the developments soon after Partition and the establishment of the University Grants Commission (UGC), we are proud to have over a dozen functional universities providing higher learning. It reflects on need-based growth.

  Similarly, both technical and medical universities were very much needed. There is the need for a few more to cover veterinary science, animal sciences, food technology, etc. Such institutions are essential to provide the required man power. Not only in the field of science but also in fine arts and cultural heritage.

It is unfair to state that the two universities were set up in haste. I admire the right political decision to initiate such healthy steps in medical and engineering fields.

The setting up of Punjab Agricultural University was the result of a bold political and administrative decision of Partap Singh Kairon and P.S. Deol, the then Chief Minister and the Director of Agriculture, Punjab, respectively. The financial and material support from the USA could make PAU a story of success. It is clear that such support is missing for the two new universities.

Most of the educational institutions today are being encouraged to be self-supporting. So if a dental college is moving towards that goal, it should not be labelled as a “Mint”. To attract funds, even at PAU seats are offered to NRIs. The newly appointed VCs have left the institutions due to the shortage of funds.

Institutions like Punjab Technical University and Punjab Medical University can grow to become giants provided we are willing to put our efforts together for their development.


Lopsided approach: The former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University has rightly commented on the fast proliferation of engineering colleges in the state.

From only two engineering colleges in 1988 to almost 11 engineering colleges in 1996 in eight years! This breakneck speed of expansion points to a lopsided approach of the leaders who want to gain cheap popularity.

There could be more engineering colleges when all the infrastructure and paraphernalia of the previous ones were in place and their proper functioning was ensured. Only then could a uniform standard of engineering education be possible. The All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has already laid guidelines for establishing engineering colleges. Undue haste can create serious doubts about the genuineness and legal academic status of these institutions.

Setting up an engineering college is not like laying roads in a hurry and then ignore its maintenance. A badly administered and inadequately funded institution can be more damaging for the country than a badly maintained road.

Assistant Professor GZS College of Engineering & Technology



Soldiers’ sacrifice

I have carefully read the write-up by Mr A.N. Dar, “A poor crisis handling record” (The Tribune, January 13) and appreciate the analysis made therein. Let me quote some of the words used by the Pakistanis against former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri just before the 1965 war. “The Pakistanis feel that the Hindus cannot fight although we (the Indians) keep on stressing that Hindustan is the homeland of other communities also. The Pakistanis keep on equating Hindustan with Hindus whom they regard as incapable of fighting. They (Pakistanis) believe that Hindus are too preoccupied with Dharma and Karma, Pooja and Paath in particular. They scorn dhotiwallas whom they put down useless as fighters.

But come the hour, come the man. The boy who punished himself by jumping into the Ganga because he had misspent the fare for the ferry, the freedom fighter who was not prepared to seek parole to go to the bedside of his dying daughter, the Railway Minister who insisted on accepting responsibility and resigning over a train accident for which he was in no way responsible showed the metal. The result was that the Indian Army was sitting on the outskirts of Lahore and Sialkot with the Pakistanis eating their words. The Prime Minister told them, “None of you wear dhoti, but I do and I wonder whether more forceful decisions were taken by myself wearing dhoti or President Ayub Khan clad in pant”.

The great Prime Minister of India, though short in height, was the tallest in courage. He told his Generals, “Hereafter my Generals would decide in what manners and what ways the war is to be fought and he left this great decision to the Generals who proved their gallantry and brought glory to the entire nation”.

After he signed Tashkent Agreement, he came under a lot of criticism at home. The day before his death, he was found in Tashkent scribbing the well-known Urdu couplet: “Barhe shauk se sun raha tha zamaana hum hi so gaye dastaan kahte kahte”

Today we need a political leadership that has sufficient courage, that can motivate people to make sacrifices under such conditions as the hijacking of Indian Airlines’ plane. Thousands of young women became widows while in their twenties as their young husbands made the supreme sacrifice to protect the country’s borders in the past. But the price they paid did not deserve to be wasted by letting of those hardcore terrorists who were responsible for these young women becoming widows.

Jalari (Hamirpur)

A cut above the rest

I am a neurophysician (and a passionate Indian) based in Oxford, UK. I regularly keep in touch with events back home through the web-based newspapers. I must say The Tribune’s Internet edition is a cut above the rest (by a mile !!)



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