Tuesday, March 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


Need to make PAU self-sufficient

In the article on PAU (March 18), Mr A.S. Bindra has pointed out that there is paucity of funds for conducting research. After 37 years of PAU existence, research activity should not merely depend upon grants from the state and the Centre. Finance should come from agro-industry, research organisations and the Agriculture Department. There is need for becoming self-sufficient. Why does not the university take to contract farming in villages?

I have been watching developments in the university since 1969. All of a sudden the college of Veterinary Science came into existence even when there was a full-fledged Department of Animal Sciences and that too when there was stiff resistance from within. I still remember how departments of genetics vegetables, floriculture, plant pathology, ecology, food science and technology, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, physics, biochemistry, botany, zoology, fishery etc came into existence. Just for adjusting some people!

Do you really need a separate Department of Extention Education along with a full-fledged Directorate of Extention? Think of justification for the creation of posts of Xen Horticulture, Deputy/Assistant Directors of Research in agri-engg. home science, veterinary science and Directorate of Communication and Publications.



If we can afford, we should create departments discipline-wise in order to ensure a healthy development of those disciplines. We should have taken into consideration the financial aspect at the time of creation of these departments While merging the departments we should not be selective, biased and prejudiced. You can economise on finances in many ways. Have only five departments: Agronomy, Home Science, Agricultural Engg., Animal Science and Basic Science. Think of merging separate entities of accounts and audit. Reduce the fleet of cars, trucks and buses and adopt a contract system for the purpose.

Over-staffing in offices can be easily reduced by stopping new recruitment. There should be a thorough restructuring of offices particularly when computerisation has been introduced and photostat machines have been supplied.

Prof H. K. VERMA, Ludhiana

Sekhon controversy

The Sekhon controversy has brought to a sharp focus the basic question whether soldiering is a career or a calling.

I was in the United States three years ago when I happened to be present at a press interview given by Gen Norman Schwarzleopf of “Desert Storm” fame. I requested a press reporter sitting next to me to ask the General as to what motivated him to join the military, to which he replied:

“When I began as a plebe ‘Duty, Honour, Country’ was just a motto I’d heard. By the time I left, those values had become my fixed stars. It was a tremendous liberation. The military, with its emphasis on rank and medals and efficiency reports, is the easiest institution in the world in which to get consumed with ambition. Some officers spend all their time currying favour and worrying about the next promotion — a miserable way to live. But the military’s motto, ‘Duty, Honour, Country’ saved me from that, by instilling the ideal of service above self to do my duty for my country even if it brought no gain or promotion at all. It gave me far more than a military career — it gave me a calling.”

In our military the question today is: how to reorient the officer corps to the traditional value of a mission or calling, when at the outset they have been conditioned to the fact that, the very success of their career depends on their ability to conform to the existing norms of career behaviour, even at the expense of being dubbed opportunists and sycophants?

Brig N. B. GRANT (retd), Pune

Change in ethos: There is a regulation and convention of defence officers not writing to not only politicians regarding any service personal matter except through the proper channel. This rule was followed well till August, 1947, but abandoned thereafter. Any officer connected well makes use of his connections, discreetly or otherwise. The ethos of the service have undergone a sea-change since Independence. Each and every IAS/IPS officer has his well-wisher politicians and vice-versa (refer to the recent wholesale civil servant transfers in Punjab).

When the fairness of selections, promotions and plum postings (foreign) becomes questionable and officers, specially from the minority community, are ignored, a recourse to lobbying is inevitable. In the present-day environment of “sifarish”, “connections” are lobbying, defence officers cannot remain “sacred cows”. They live in the same society. They see the things for themselves. Under the circumstances Sekhon had done nothing wrong.

The appointment committee comprises four politicians. Therefore, it is but natural to seek favours and lobby. A very harsh action has been taken on flimsy grounds.

The letter was written by Sekhon in October last year. Why it should surface now is intriguing. Where was this letter all the while? Who kept it under the carpet to be brought out at the critical juncture? This needs to be inquired. It is quite apparent that all this “tamasha” is to save Air Marshal Bhatia, who nearly brought two nations to war. It will be seen that now nothing will happen to Bhatia after sending Sekhon home. Real justice and fair play!

Brig K. S. KANG (retd), Chandigarh

Degeneration: That a serving Air Marshal (since retired) should have flouted the laid down service norms and thought nothing of shooting out a letter to a Chief Minister to seek help for a favoured appointment indicates the politicisation of the armed forces. It is also seen that there exists considerable distrust and antagonism among the top echelons of the Air Force. These are unhealthy developments. Gone are the days when high-ranking officers used to be models of excellence and martinets of discipline, possessed of irreproachable integrity and impeccable conduct.

It would be futile to single out one or the other for the rot that has set in. The political class and the military top brass are both to blame. Yet, on balance a far greater share of the culpability attaches to those heading the successive governments and at the helm of affairs in the country over the past many years. The bad policies and precedents set by them have come home to roost and brought us to this unenviable pass.

In the midst of the raging lust for power and the runaway obsession with material gains as also plummeting moral/ethical standards on the part of our leaders and self-professed intellectuals with little to offer by may of hope or inspiration in the enveloping scenario, what can we expect from the people at large? It is an all-round degeneration of society. As a Punjabi saying goes: Saaraa aavaa ee oot gya. What next? Do we see any flicker of light at the end of the tunnel?

Wing Cdr S. C. KAPOOR (retd), Noida



VC and the crisis

The term of a Vice-Chancellor is for three years. Some VCs have set an example, others have brought a bad name to the post. I have spent 10 years in the university. I think there are three main reasons for the crisis: (i) Too many powers with the Vice-Chancellor (ii) Political appointments (iii) Character of the individual.

In the first case actions taken by the VC have to be got approved from the Syndicate, which is not an elected body in the universities of Punjab. Members of the Syndicate either come from same political nexus or are the VC’s own subordinates. So the VC never takes it as a check on him. Moreover, I have never felt the presence of the Governor in the university administration as the Chancellor.

The VC’s appointment is made on the recommendation of the Chief Minister. What can one expect from such a VC? A college principal becomes a VC, a boss of his senior professors. How can he be helpful in carrying on research activities in a university?

If a VC appoints his son-in-law, son or daughter to a post ignoring all merit, where is the character in the individual? I have seen a VC drunk and lying on the floor of a hotel. Another openly having his colleague as a keep. What lessons are our coming generations going to learn?

What can be the solution? I think lesser powers, an effective check through an elected Syndicate and the appointment through a search committee. There should definitely be a provision for the termination of the services of a VC in the University Act.



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