|Thursday, June 8, 2000,
"WHAT ails Panjab University" by Mr Gobind Thukral (The Sunday Tribune, May 28) gives the impression that the Panjab University Teachers' Association is "the all-powerful" organisation of the university. As a teacher activist of long-standing and a former Secretary of PUTA, I wish a day would come when the reality would not be at a variance with what has been said in The Tribune. But the sad truth remains that wishes are not granted by Press reports.
During the past three decades that I have been on the university campus as a student and as a teacher, it has been my experience that every new Vice-Chancellor begins his term by adopting a constructive approach towards the legitimate demands of university teachers as articulated by PUTA. But this spirit of cordiality towards the representative organisation of the university teachers is never allowed to endure. The vested interests controlling the politics of the university Senate and Syndicate for decades make it difficult for the Vice-Chancellor to implement the agreements reached with PUTA. The uncertain implementation of the long-pending pension scheme, enhancement of the university teachersí representation in the Senate as agreed upon in 1978 can be cited as glaring instances of the powerlessness of PUTA.
There is urgent need to introduce the norm of a single fixed term of five years for the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor as being followed in many universities such as Delhi University and JNU. A restriction on the maximum number of terms for the membership of the Senate must be imposed to cure the university from its serious maladies.
D. S. TOOR
Problem of politicisation
The article provides an objective assessment of the situation at Panjab University, one of the premier educational institutions of North India. As an alumni of the university, I feel motivated to endorse as well as add something to what Mr Thukral has brought out in his story.
One of the major problems which this university has been facing for so many years is the politicisation of its governing bodies. Some of the members of the Senate and the Syndicate have remained there for decades. They have been ganging up to block any well-intentioned move of the Vice-Chancellors. Though the university has been lucky to consistently have Vice-Chancellors who have been well-known academicians, they have had to deal with vested interests functioning as Senators.
I think the problems lie in the mode of elections for the governing bodies. In this context, what is known is the "graduate constituency" is doing more harm than good. The Senators elected from this constituency manipulate votes by using various questionable means. In the process, the teachers, particularly the university teachers, suffer the maximum. They are underrepresented in these bodies. Moreover, these Senators, who are very well known, have not allowed an appropriate action against the teacher involved in the fossil fraud.
There is need for restructuring the Senate and the Syndicate so as to increase the representation of the teachers.
Role of Senators, Syndics
Of late, Panjab University has been at the centre of rather unsavoury and motivated controversies. This largely relates to unacademic but factional feuds among the Senators. To my mind, today only Calcutta University and Panjab University have such democratic bodies as the elected Senate and Syndicate. This democratic structure, earlier very positive in nature, has, with the passage of time, degenerated into a forum for petty politicking.
Along with Dr Paresh, a local candidate, I was selected Professor of Hindi at Panjab University by a duly constituted selection committee on July 24, 1998. The selection, which was immediately known to the senior Senators of the university, was politicised from day one. One or two senior Senators led a deputation of certain teachers of the university in favour of another local candidate to the Vice-Chancellor. One of the teachers in the deputation later disclosed that the Vice-Chancellor had assured them that he would recommend the promotion of the candidate concerned to the Syndicate. However, he would defend the proceedings of the properly constituted selection committee.
I, being a candidate from outside, was subjected to all kinds of mudslinging by the waiting list candidate, who had political clout and was connected with certain factions of the Senate. When these selections were placed before the Syndicate for approval, five months later, unsubstantiated, unacademic and derogatory remarks were made by certain Syndics.
Later when five or six Senators tried to raise the issue at a Senate meeting, their voice of reason was drowned in the din of the loud noise. Usually, Senators show more of muscle power than the force of reasoned arguments during discussions. At a later meeting a proposal moved by a few Senators for reconsideration of the case was adopted but it was not taken up by the Syndicate, despite the issue having been raised by two or three Syndics in 1999.
I feel the Chancellor should ask for a dispassionate study of the conduct of Senate and Syndicate members during the past two decades or so and take measures to stem the rot.
(Correspondence on the subject is closed)
Cricket and crime
This refers to the editorial "Call it cri(me)cket" (May 26). At the professional level, cricket as a sport is played by about a dozen countries mostly belonging to the Commonwealth. It appears from the events which have unfolded in quick succession in the recent past that this gentlemanís sport has come under the clutches of scoundrels and cheats.
The phrase "this is not cricket" is commonly used to express unfair practices in social or business relationships. But from now onwards the unfair practices may have to be regarded as synonymous with cricket, and one may use the expression "this is simply cricket", or a new phrase, "everything is fair in love, war and cricket", may find currency henceforth.
The situation may not have degraded to such a low level if the Cricket Control Boards of the respective countries comprised of honest and sport-loving administrators. It is simply not acceptable that these murky goings-on were not in their knowledge for almost a decade.
If Manoj Prabhakar was to discharge his patriotic duty as he now professes to do, he should have lodged a confidential written complaint to his manager at least after the crucial match supposed to have been fixed by Kapil Dev. In the absence of this, mere verbal disclosures naming Kapil Dev after a lapse of six years is meaningless, particularly when all the other persons roped in by Prabhakar as witnesses have denied the allegations (except Ravi Shastri).
The fact remains that the top cricketers have been playing with big money as the disclosure of Rs 16 crore by Mohd Azharuddin under the VDS scheme shows. During his highly emotional interview on the BBC, Kapil Dev even offered all his money (to keep his honour and national pride intact). I would like to make a suggestion to the Indian cricketers and Cricket Board administrators. Disclose your assets honestly to the nation. Out of this, retain Rs 10 crore for your present and future generations and surrender the rest to the Prime Ministerís Relief Fund.
Let this country take the lead and stop all international cricket participation for about two years. During this period we should clean up the system, identify and weed out the black sheep with the active participation of the Sports Ministry and the CBI. Let there be more rigorous training and participation at the national level tournaments during this period to rebuild truly national cricket team.
T. S. CHAWLA
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