Saturday, September 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Loss of precious teaching days

TIME and again, the University Grants Commission (UGC) reminds the universities in the country to increase the number of teaching days on the campus and in their affiliated colleges to 180 in an academic session. This, according to it, will help in creating a more meaningful academic environment and will give a shot in the arm to the declining interest in classroom teaching.

To show its grave concern and academic leanings, the Directorate of Higher Education (DHE), Haryana, recently sent a circular to all the principals of the privately managed colleges of the state to refrain from declaring a holiday in the college even in the unfortunate incident of the death of an employee of the institution. This, according to the DHE, is detrimental to the interests of learning and minimises the number of teaching days in colleges.

No approach can be more myopic, sadistic and inhumane than this. It seems that no one in the DHE is bothered to look into the actual reasons for the loss of precious teaching days. During the academic session 1999-2000, over 20-30 teaching days were wasted because of the elections to the legislative assemblies and panchayats. College buildings and the staff were at the disposal of the district administration for months together, resulting in the disruption of studies. Not that the teachers resented election duties but the point that I wish to drive home is that the teachers are almost never responsible for the loss of teaching days. It is always due to the administrative lapses at the university or the government level that such a problem arises.


In the current session, Kurukshetra University failed miserably in declaring its results in time. This led to a wastage of up to 25 teaching days in some of the courses! And what an irony! The Vice-Chancellor of Kurukshetra University is also blowing the trumpet of 180 teaching days!

A college is not a government office and teachers are neither clerks nor executives. Colleges are temples of learning where the definition of “work” is quite different from “being available in the office” or “signing documents”. Teaching and learning take place in a conducive, academic-friendly environment. The first condition for such an ambience to develop is to give due respect to the teachers. Students and teachers in a college are like family members of which the principal is the head. How can one even think of teaching or learning on a day when a family member is snatched by the cruel hands of death? If that is the kind of respect that we have for our knowledge-givers, I am afraid that the already crumbling structure of higher education in Haryana will collapse soon.

If the state government, the universities in Haryana and the DHE are really serious in changing the situation for the better, the following points can certainly prove useful:

1. It should be imperative for the university to declare the results of the annual examination before the start of the next academic session.

2. The number of seats in all the courses in a college should be fixed and it should be mandatory for the college to publish this detail in its prospectus.

3. The government should see to it that all private colleges receive their grant-in-aid in time so as to ensure perfect financial health of colleges.

4. The government should refrain itself from interfering in the day-to-day working of the colleges in matters of workload, period of stay of employees, leave rules, section-strengths etc. as all these things are already taken care of by the stipulations in the university calendar.

5. A grievances committee, comprising three members — a representative each of the UGC and the DHE and a nominee of the Vice-Chancellor should visit the college every year to get feedback from the teacher and the student representatives.

One can only hope that the policy makers of education will one day wake up to the fact that the teaching and the learning processes in the 21st century are going to be more and more complex where the personality of the teacher, far from getting overshadowed by the hi-tech IT revolution, will play a much more vital role in shaping the raw minds into balanced and pleasing personalities.

Ambala Cantt

Prof P. L. Wahi

It was painful and shocking to read about the death of Prof P.L. Wahi, former Director of PGIMER. Not only the medico-fraternity all over, especially in the PGI, but also thousands of those who came in contact with him, as patients or otherwise, must have felt the shock. He served the institute with dedication, dignity and integrity for about three decades right from its inception and led it to greater heights as its Director. He glittered like a diamond in the medical profession to spread its glamour all round. He was a true and competent successor of the doyens like Professor Tulsi Dass, Professor Anand and Professor Chhuttani and they were all proud of him. In fact, he belonged to their lineage.

He was an outstandingly brilliant student, a doctor of extraordinary competence, a teacher/academician of high calibre and above all humility personified. Such noble and enlightened souls are a rare species in these days of hollowness.
May his soul rest in peace!




Wanted: steam road roller

The Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has established an industrial training centre near Panchkula to train young people selected in vocational trades.

To illustrate the principles of linear motion transferred into circular motion, we need a working model. We are, therefore, on the lookout for an old time steam road roller, which may be lying unattended in the yard of an engineering branch of some local municipality, or cantonment, or local PWD office, as junk.

Anybody aware of this fact may kindly write a postcard to the Director General, ITBP, Block No. 2, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003, informing of the whereabouts of such a road roller. Not only will it be preserved as an engineering design of the past, but also make it useful in the studies of physics for under-privileged students whom we are beginning to train.

Director General, ITBP, 
New Delhi

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