Monday, June 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Professors are not retainers of the party in power

Apropos a news item in"Punjabi university removes dept head" The Tribune (May 27), Punjabi University has served show-cause notices on two very senior professors for expressing their views in newspapers. It smacks of a mindset that has not as yet shed administrative vestiges of the colonial rule.

Even as early after Independence in 1968 when I was a Professor and head of the Department of Economics, Dr P.N. Thapar, an ICS Officer of British Raj, then Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, called for my explanation because, in his views, one of my articles in The Tribune on agricultural price policy had caused embarrassment to the Punjab Government. But, see his grace! He ordered the file closed after receiving my one-line reply, “I thought, I were a Professor!”

This was the response of an enlightened academic administrator who understood the role and responsibility of academicians towards society. After all, if a learned Professor of a university does not express his considered views on the issues of concern to society and does not dispassionately analyse the policy and programmes of the government for creating objective awareness among the masses, who else is expected to do so?


This action of the university administration amounts to muzzling the voice of the intellectuals with impunity and does not fall short of enslaving the avid thinkers working in the highest seat of learning.

This appears to be an action taken subservient to the demeanours of the political authority that be. We must not forget that these intellectuals belong to the nation and are invaluable assets to society. They should not be taken as retainers of the political party in power.

It will be a slur on the face of independent democratic India if our professors in the universities get reprimanded for expressing their unbiased and even-handed views, which in fact they owe to society.

S.S JOHAL, former Vice-Chancellor, Palampur

GUARDIANS OF DEMOCRACY: We fully endorse the views expressed in the editorial, “Don't gag academics” (May 30). Dr Sucha Singh Gill, Prof Bhupinder Singh Khaira and Prof U.C. Singh, who have been taken to task by a six-member disciplinary committee of Punjabi University, Patiala, are eminent academicians known for their integrity, honesty and intellectual calibre.

Intellectuals are the guardians of democracy. They should take full cognisance of what is going on in the world around them. They should also have the freedom to reflect on all the burning issues of the day — political, social and economic.

In a bid to please his political bosses, Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia has vitiated the atmosphere of Punjabi University by creating discord, disharmony and discontent among the members of the teaching faculty. The issue of Ph.D registration between Master Mohan Lal and the VC has led to an unsavoury controversy. It seems that the sole aim of the VC is to draw political mileage through these unworthy postures.

By requesting for the withdrawal of his Ph.D registration, Master Mohan Lal has shown grace and sobriety, whereas the VC is leaving no stone unturned to humiliate him. The Vice-Chancellor is trying to assume more and more dictatorial powers, flouting all norms and procedures laid down in the university calendar.

It is rather unfortunate that the Chief Minister is maintaining his habitual silence, even as the storms of controversy are blowing over the university, throwing dust over its fair name.

The only redeeming feature of the situation is that eminent public figures, the media and even the judiciary have reflected their serious concern over the sad state of affairs in the university.



IT’S ATROCIOUS: The decision is atrocious and defies all canons of logic and rationality.

A university is, properly speaking, a dissenting academy. Its basic job is to promote a culture of critique encompassing every facet of life. If it fails to perform this function, it is better closed to save a colossal sum spent on running it.

D.R. CHAUDHRY, Macleod Ganj

POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS: Politicians have already reduced these so-called “temples” to the status of their PR-extensions. Today almost all appointments in our varsities, from that of a lecturer to a Vice-Chancellor, are made by politicians on political merit rather than academic excellence. Take the ever-rising number of “Chairs” that the “fund-starved” universities create to please their political masters. In a recent appointment to one such Chair, the appointee defended his appointment, despite being academically unqualified for the post, by saying that “even his predecessors to the post were also not qualified”! Shame!

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

AN AGENT OF CHANGE: A university is a unique social institution. Its main characteristics are tolerance of dissent, idealism and lack of hierarchical rigidities. If a Vice-Chancellor blindly follows the principle of general administration, he will invite trouble for himself. The Punjabi University VC must understand that in a developing society aspiring for structural changes through democratic means, the faculty of the university has a crucial role to play as an agent of change.

S.P. DHAWAN, Chandigarh

CRISIS WILL BLOW OVER: Punjabi University has a number of hard-working teachers, non-teachers, students both local and foreign and as such the cold-war between some academicians and the administrators may blow over soon, giving place to the new era of its own atmosphere


AUTOCRATIC: It is a pity that Dr J.S. Ahluwalia is acting in a very autocratic manner. His continuation as the Vice-Chancellor is not in the interest of society in general and of Punjabi University in particular.


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