|Monday, June 26, 2000,
Universities: the fundamental question
THE article "Indian Universities: Isolated from mainstream revolutions" by Prof Surjit Singh Bhatti on Indian universities (June 17) has provided many ambitious strategies to get into the mainstream of the modern revolution. The fundamental question is: why are we left behind in this race of technological revolution? After teaching for 30 years in the West, this year I spent in India and had a first hand experience. There is no academic or research culture in most of our institutes and, therefore, we are bound to be left isolated. It is a miracle that with so little achievements, our institutes are still functioning.
The fundamental cause of our under-achievements is not that we do not have brains. But, unfortunately, we have wrong brains at wrong places and many of them lack honesty and dedication, and have no drive, direction or accountability. It is not that our government has not made efforts to keep up with the revolution, but it is our wrongly placed academics that have to answer to our under-achievement. I do not agree with Prof Bhatti on the question of fundamental research, which I think is very essential at least in our country. It is for us to see how we put this academic and fundamental research in use for public interest. All his strategies are worth undertaking, but we will only achieve if we change the set of rules in our academic society.
|No tenure jobs should be there until you
prove your worth for it. Follow the Western system and
ask intellectuals to be self-sufficient and create
finances for the institutes and for their own survival.
This will certainly contribute and help to the big
university budgets. This will also make the academics
think and work for saving their jobs.
A new generation of academics should be given a chance who can use their brain generate self-economy and show his competence and credibility to compete with the outside world. The achievement criteria should be strictly defined. The achievements should be assessed properly and by independent bodies. No political influence should be entertained when public money is distributed for competitive and competent science projects. A projects success should be monitored periodically and if it is not succeeding, funding should be immediately stopped rather than continue spending and wasting money because of the fear of audit objections. The private sector that is generating a bunch of low-grade medicos, engineers and scientists should be stopped by government policy. Otherwise in 10 years when we will have a large number of pseudo-experts made by the power of their paternal money, our country will still be more isolated from the mainstream revolution.
Prof S.S. Papiha
Prophet of Total Revolution
Mr M.G. Devasahayam remembered Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan (A bright light during dark hours: Prisoner JP in Chandigarh, June 18) with reverence, a degree of gratitude and affection.
JP brought freedom to the doorstep of India twice: once in 1947 and then in 1977. He lived for the people and died for the people. He was the last crusader for peoples power, died for the peoples a hardcore Marxist-turned-Gandhian, a prophet of Total Revolution.(Riding on the high horse of Bangladesh victory in 1971, Indira Gandhi became a haughty, arrogant and authoritarian ruler, and called corruption a global phenomenon. The queen empress of India declared the Emergency on June 25, 1975. Democracy was killed in India. The Press was gagged; civil servants crawled when they were asked to bend.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave became a Sarkari Sadhu. With the exception of Justice H.R. Khanna, the judges would say what the dictator wanted. The right to life, a basic feature of the Constitution, was suspended. The Constitution was totally subverted. President Fakharuddin Ali Ahmed signed the Proclamation of Emergency which had not been approved by the Cabinet as required under the law.
Sycophancy was at its height. Dev Kant Barua sang the song: India is Indira. Indira in India. Bansi Lal and Sanjay Gandhi wanted JP dead in the PGI; doctors feigned clueless about JPs kidney trouble. But God saved the hard-boiled revolutionary.
I was aghast to read Abu Abraham say (The Tribune, June 17), that it was the JP movement which had brought in the Emergency. Trash. It was the Allahabad High Court judgement of June 12, 1975, which had unseated Indira Gandhi on charges of corrupt practices in election. And she thrust the Emergency down the throat of the nation at the behest of Sanjay Gandhi and Bansi Lal the chief of the coterie around the queen.
If JP had brought in the dark days of the Emergency, then why did Indira Gandhi virtually feel apologetic about imposing it, as the writer has reported? Why did she lose the whole of the North, the East and the West?
Whenever JPs name appears in the media he is remembered in total reverence and respect.
S. S. Jain
Ameliorating the lot of poor
I have read with interest the editorial Helping hand (June 21), welcoming the introduction of two new insurance schemes Matrishakti Beema Yojana and Jan Shri Beema Yojana launched simultaneously by Himachal Pradesh and the Centre, respectively, in an ostensible bid to provide some succour to the hapless sections of society. Well, I liked the editorial, especially for its sting the sting-in-the tail.
The schemes in question smack of populism, candidly speaking. Nevertheless, the twin-measure is welcome, for, to my mind, any step, howsoever small, which seeks to ameliorate the lot of the poorest of the poor even minimally under the obtaining difficult times should be considered in order rather than otherwise.
It must, of course, be ensured that the intended benefits do percolate down to the needy/deserving and are not just siphoned off by the vested interests, including the officials handling the schemes, as the editorial rightly says.
If the people-friendly schemes are allowed, wittingly or unwittingly, to be hijacked by the enemies of the poor, as seems the case with the much-trumpeted Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), the desideratum, obviously enough, would remain a far cry.
Age limit for VCs
This is with reference to the front-page report Uncertainty grips KU (June 21) in which inquiries made by Tribune News Service show that Mr Chaudhary would cross the age of 65 years by the time he completes his three-year term as Vice-Chancellor.
Our education commissions and committees appointed by the Government of India and the University Grants Commission regulate the terms and conditions of appointment of Vice-Chancellors.
Dr Kothari Education Commission (1964-66) recommended that the term of office of the Vice-Chancellor should be five years... and the retirement age for Vice-Chancellors should be fixed at 65 years; an exception be made in the case of an exceptionally qualified person of all-India eminence.
In regard to the question of prescribing an age limit of retirement, the P.B. Gajendragadkar Committee on Governance of Universities (1971) had recommended that the office of the Vice-Chancellor should be a whole-time salaried one... and the Vice-Chancellor should retire on completing the age of 65 years.
The latest Report of the UGC Committee on Appointment of Vice-Chancellors in Indian Universities (1991) says that (I) the appointment should be for a five-year term to be prescribed in the statute. It may be renewable for another term upto the age of 65 years. Appointment beyond the age of 65 years could be in specialised institutions in an honorary capacity. (ii) The term of the office of the Vice-Chancellor shall commence with effect from the date of joining the duties of his/her office.
Decaying social ethos
This refers to Mr T.V. Rajeswars Dangerous decay of social ethos (June 13). With the advent of demonstrative consumerism and the resultant commerce without conscience, the last two decades have witnessed a trend of sharp decay of social ethos. Unethical, immoral, illegal, vested, sectarian and casteist manipulations of people are not limited to just one section or profession. The whole set-up social, economic, political as well as cultural seems to have degenerated to the core.
Angry and reckless motorists find nothing wrong in killing people on roads and shooting point-blank if anyone dares to oppose their lawlessness. Bride-burning and wife-bashing for dowry still remain one of the major problems of not just the lower strata, but news of such a tormentation of women also emanate from the high echelons of society.
Despite our achievements in many sectors during the 50 plus years of independence, we have not been able to eradicate the curse of caste distinction. The question of dalits and upper-castes still dominates our national psyche, so much so that all electoral calculations are based on this single factor.
A reckless devaluation of the old socio-ethical system, without any suitable alternatives, has only created more serious problems. The lure of quick buck, without the matching capability and opportunities, has only led many a reckless youth to highway robbery. The youth seems to feel convinced that the new economic philosophy justifies anything if it can generate them enough money. Ironically, the police, instead of checking this, share the booty.
In the face of an unchecked materialism, society has failed to churn out any role model. Whatever ideological models we had stand shattered.
In such a gloomy atmosphere, it is high time we seriously analysed this new phenomenon of socio-cultural and political degeneration to find out and remove the root causes of this social drift. Such a mass-scale gangrene cannot be just an aberration in the social ethos. It is a steady decay which calls for introspection, soul searching and remedial measures by all thinking people.
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