Saturday, April 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Where corruption & incompetence rule the roost

Apropos of Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “What ails Indian universities” (March 29), when the State Government takes over the functioning of universities through its various legislative steps, the university, as a corporate body, ceases to exist. At the same time, it does not become a department of the State either. On paper, a university is an autonomous organisation and a body corporate. In practice, it functions in terms of what it is told to do.

One would be prepared to accept even this highly adverse situation were it certain that the universities would perform better thereby. Their performance now depends on the choice of Vice-Chancellors, the funding available and several other related things. Each one of them is determined by the twin factors: incompetence and corruption. Therefore, the performance of the universities is no better than the performance of the government. The right thing to do would be to maintain some kind of a balance between the role of academics and that of the government. This is, however, an ideal which hardly obtains anywhere in India.

The need of the hour is a faculty with a high calibre of excellence and integrity. Unfortunately, the “faculty” (of teachers) has registered a sharp decline in our universities since Independence. Time was when teachers like Dr S. Radhakrishnan, Dr C.V. Raman, Acharya Narendra Dev and Dr Zakir Hussain — internationally reputed for excellence — manned the teaching departments of various universities across the country. They were scholars of great eminence and many among them were men of courage and integrity.


Today, however, many a university teacher (Vice-Chancellors not excluded) merely fulfil routine academic requirements. A VC is more concerned with status and perks than anything else. In our university life, there are clear indications of fissiparous tendencies like parochialism, sectionalism and all those “isms” which divert our attention from the mainstream of our national life.

The universities should be so reorganised as to develop an inherent dynamism to withstand all kinds of pressures, political and non-political. Politicians dominate universities and this is the case with almost all the universities with the result that our temples of higher education have failed to achieve the intended purpose and mission.


WEAKEST SPOT: Apparently, when Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia was hiding, he was busy drafting the letter which appeared in these columns (April 1). It was, indeed, a great pleasure to go through his academic achievements. At least, one doubt has been removed from the public mind. He certainly has an excellent bio-data, which can ensure him another prestigious appointment, if and when he leaves the university, under compulsion or otherwise.

Dr Ahluwalia’s determination to fight, and not to ‘cowardly quit’ is admirable. However, one fails to understand how his scholarship can help him to get out of the charges of moral turpitude. Even if it is believed that his opponents have concocted a story to defame him, they must have chosen his weakest spot to hit him there. So, there could be some truth in what has been alleged against him. Just by refuting the allegations, one doesn’t get absolved of the charges. They have to be proved to be untrue which is not that easy. In the process, one sinks deeper into the morass.

Police investigations, on such charges, are not a pleasant affair. They can lead to very humiliating situations. With a view to collecting evidence to prove his misconduct, police may like to probe his entire past, which only Dr Ahluwalia will know if he is prepared for. Keeping all these pitfalls in mind, the VC may still be wiser to reconsider the free counsel given by Mr Hari Jaisingh that he should gracefully bow out.


GRACEFUL EXIT?: In his letter, Dr Ahluwalia repeatedly said that he would like to go “gracefully”. Has any grace left in him after so many incidents in Patiala’s Punjabi University? I don’t know what he thinks of the term “gracefully”. If a man doesn’t know the meaning of grace, he has no right to hold the office of the Vice-Chancellor and Chairman of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle.

I would like to salute the girl who raised her voice against such a “shameless creature”. If this “so-called graceful” VC has even some self-respect, he should quit before he is thrown out of office.


KEEP OFF POLITICIANS: I agree with Mr Hari Jaisingh that most of the vocational courses are inferior and expensive. For example, a large number of courses like MBA, BCA, BE etc have been started in ill-equipped institutions without fulfilling the criteria and basic requirements of affiliation.

There is turmoil in our universities as the traditional value system is fast changing. Cases of moral turpitude have been reported from almost all the universities in Punjab except Panjab University in Chandigarh.

If we are really serious about ridding the campuses of the sickening conditions, we should discontinue associating politicians with the selections and promotions at all levels including the formation of Senate, Board of Governors etc. Once we do this, we should mean business. Selection and admission methodology deserves overhauling. Of course, we require administrators imbued with a spirit of integrity and commitment. Learning is a continuous process and updating knowledge is the most essential part of it. Healthy academic environment should be provided in the varsity campuses so that teachers are not swayed to betray the cause and the mission that they have given to themselves.

Let us restrict entry to the portals of higher education only to the brilliant. Mere acquisition of degrees at third rate level will only add to the army of the unemployed people. Motivated students and meritorious and devoted teachers will certainly create a healthy environment for the pursuit of higher learning.

PROF H.K.VERMA, Ludhiana

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