Wednesday, April 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi

E D I T O R I A L   P A G E


Diabolical Pak game
AKISTAN has clearly dropped the pretence of mending fences with India. What President Pervez Musharraf says is for public consumption. The latest instance of terrorist attack in Rajouri and a village in Jammu point to a diabolical shift in Pakistan's Kashmir policy. The scene of action has moved from the valley to the Hindu and Sikh dominated region of Jammu.

Osama in Pakistan?
hat the favourite hobby of Gen Pervez Musharraf is to play a double game is well known in India. Western governments are learning this bitter truth the hard way. While on the one hand he is cooperating with these powers to help capture Al-Qaeda and Taliban members, on the other, he is providing them safe sanctuaries.

Administrative imperatives
ARNATAKA Chief Minister S.M.Krishna needs to be commended for having taken some bold and innovative decisions very recently.





The tragic message from Gujarat
Is an anguished Prime Minister helpless?
A.N. Dar
N the present dispensation Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee is the only hope in the BJP, but the big question after the communal carnage in Gujarat is how well he will succeed in making peace. Human and humanitarian, he was seen as having been deeply anguished after a visit of a few hours to Gujarat. As some of the victims said, in the BJP-ruled state he was the only ray of hope, but how long will it last?


SYL Canal verdict: an introspection
G.S. Dhillon
HE SYL Canal is an emotional issue linked to the inter-state dispute between Haryana and Punjab about water allocations,” writes Mr B.G. Verghese in his book, “Winning The Future”. In the post-SYL judgement period, after the fateful day in the history of the region, January 15, 2002, the waters have become murkier.

In view of the overwhelming response to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “What ails Indian universities: Wanted a premium on integrity and commitment” (March 29), we are carrying yet another set of readers’ response on the state of affairs in our temples of learning.

Restoring the pride & prestige of our universities
R Hari Jaisingh’s article “What ails Indian universities” (March 29) and the readers’ response has emotionally surcharged the whole issue. When I was in the hospital after the murderous attack on me engineered by Dr Jaspal Singh Ahluwalia, I had been seriously thinking about the fall of university to such a level.

  • Politicians as VCs

  • Neck & neck race

  • Onus on us

  • Restore the dignity

  • Crus of the problem

  • The period of redemption

  • The biggest irony

  • Need to change the mind-set

  • Pot calling the kettle black...




Diabolical Pak game

PAKISTAN has clearly dropped the pretence of mending fences with India. What President Pervez Musharraf says is for public consumption. The latest instance of terrorist attack in Rajouri and a village in Jammu point to a diabolical shift in Pakistan's Kashmir policy. The scene of action has moved from the valley to the Hindu and Sikh dominated region of Jammu. What should cause concern is that the terrorists seem to have done their home work for achieving the objective of creating a Hindu-Muslim divide not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also elsewhere in the country. The irony is that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal are unwittingly on the same side in creating mayhem for the attainment of the same objective — that of communal polarisation. The game of creating division by unleashing a wave of hate crimes is being played in Gujarat and the Jammu region. There is another irony. One group is driven by its professed love for India while the other group is creating communal tension because it hates India. The human targets are different, but the objective is the same. Look at the scale of barbarity in the latest round of blood letting in Jammu. Among those killed by the Pakistani militants were two women and their young daughters. The wave of hate crimes against carefully chosen targets has understandably raised the level of fear and anxiety in the country. The crackdown in Afghanistan too is directly responsible for the increase in the intensity of the hate crimes in Jammu. The Taliban regime had made it mandatory for non-Muslims, particularly Hindus, to wear identification marks — as was the norm for Jews during Hitler's rise to power in Germany. To them killing Hindus comes easy than say Muslims opposed to their agenda in the valley.

The Indian intelligence and security apparatus is to be blamed in equal measure for the large-scale infiltration of Al Qaeda and Taliban elements hunted out of Afghanistan by the US-led anti-terrorism operation. The scale of the operation that claimed seven lives in Jammu is disturbing. The battle between the militants and members of the village defence committee lasted nearly seven hours. The VDC members say they could have been able to save the village had they not run out of ammunition. The gun battle lasted nearly six hours before the militants were able to implement their satanic plan of targeting Hindu households. Recently they had targeted a temple with the same objective of creating Hindu-Muslim bitterness. The worrisome feature is that the operations in Gujarat and Jammu may succeed in their objectives if the political leadership fails to take hard decisions for restoring normalcy in the regions that have seen an alarming increase in the scale of hate crimes. In the overall context why is it that Pakistan is usually able to achieve its objective of creating tension on the borders and turmoil inside Indian territory? And why is it that India is usually found wanting in launching a counter-offensive or guarding its frontiers against the infiltration of militants and their evil machinationss? Why?



Osama in Pakistan?

That the favourite hobby of Gen Pervez Musharraf is to play a double game is well known in India. Western governments are learning this bitter truth the hard way. While on the one hand he is cooperating with these powers to help capture Al-Qaeda and Taliban members, on the other, he is providing them safe sanctuaries. In the latest expose of this duplicity, Pakistani newspaper The Nation has reported that Osama bin Laden left just hours before FBI agents stormed a building in Faisalabad and picked up his deputy, Abu Zubaydah last week. The Pakistan Foreign Office has, predictably, denied the report about Osama's presence on Pakistani soil but the Pakistani Press and western analysts swear by its authenticity. A graphic account given by several sources claims that there were 13 simultaneous raids, nine of them in Faisalabad itself, besides Lahore and Karachi, after FBI devices pinpointed the houses frequented by Laden. The most wanted terrorist was plain lucky to escape the dragnet. The raids under Operation Midnight were known to very few Pakistanis because the FBI feared leaks by Pakistani authorities. Had Osama bin Laden come to know of the impending raids, he would not have let his trusted aide Abu Zubaydah be captured. Ironically, Islamabad has admitted that the raids were indeed carried out but calls these "joint operations" against suspected terrorists, despite the fact that these were wholly American operations. The US request to carry out hot pursuit into Pakistan was rejected by President Musharraf during a visit to Kabul recently. Such figleaf is necessary to avoid public outcry.

The latest expose strengthens the earlier belief that Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, that too very close to Lahore. If The Nation story is to be believed, he was is Faisalabad for three days. The inescapable conclusion is that the Pakistani establishment is bent on protecting him. As Jane's Intelligence Digest reported last week, western intelligence agencies had convincing evidence that a large number of Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters were in Pakistan and these groups were "reorganising and refining their strategies within Pakistan". Now it is for the western countries to decide whether they can afford to have an ally which runs with the hare and hunts with the hounds. From the Indian point of view the situation is alarming. Now that the world focus has shifted towards Pakistan, it might quietly smuggle important elements of Al-Qaeda, may be Osama bin Laden himself, into Northern Territories or Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir to maintain the façade that "they are not in Pakistan". Once firmly ensconced there, they can train their guns at India while at the same time escaping the prying eyes of the world.



Administrative imperatives

KARNATAKA Chief Minister S.M.Krishna needs to be commended for having taken some bold and innovative decisions very recently. These measures include a new cadre management policy for the state government’s employees belonging to Group A, B, C and D services; annual exercise for direct recruitment of officers to the Karnataka Administrative Service and allied services on the pattern of the UPSC examinations; the introduction of efficiency bar tests to improve the quality of governance; and amendment of recruitment rules to allow lateral entry of professionals into government service besides permitting its own staff to work in the private sector. These measures come close on the heels of the other steps Mr Krishna, who also holds the Finance portfolio, had announced while presenting the Karnataka Budget recently. These include a pay commission for employees once in 10 years as against the present practice of five with a view to controlling administrative expenditure; a voluntary retirement scheme and steps to reduce delays in decision-making. These measures, if implemented with sincerity and earnestness, are expected to ensure an effective and responsive administrative system. Some of them like the cadre management system need to be implemented in other states too because there is a certain timidity in innovating procedures, and unless the governments — at the Centre and in the states — get a new look, as Mr Krishna has done, the governing processes may lead to stagnation and discontent.

It is time the Centre and the states undertook a periodic review of the cadre strength of all regularly constituted services aimed at the rationalisation of the existing cadre structure based on manpower projections. The Union Ministry of Personnel has a special role to play in this regard. Economy in government expenditure can be attained by effective ways, but it is imperative that in the name of economy, distortions and imbalances are not created in public administration. A bloated bureaucracy will not be able to deliver the goods. Thus, there is need to shed the flab at all hierarchical levels from top to bottom. The emphasis should rightly be on setting up strategies and priorities that benefit a large number of citizens. An integrative mechanism and a sensitive analysis are essential to achieve a high degree of consistency at the level of policy. In a welfare state, where gigantic efforts have to be made for rapid growth, some posts might become inevitable. Consequently, every care will have to be taken to ensure that departments and divisions do not suffer for lack of personnel, especially experienced and technically qualified people. Efforts must be to see that the administrators and managers play their role showing enterprise to acquire an expeditious decision-making capacity.



The tragic message from Gujarat
Is an anguished Prime Minister helpless?
A.N. Dar

IN the present dispensation Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee is the only hope in the BJP, but the big question after the communal carnage in Gujarat is how well he will succeed in making peace. Human and humanitarian, he was seen as having been deeply anguished after a visit of a few hours to Gujarat. As some of the victims said, in the BJP-ruled state he was the only ray of hope, but how long will it last?

This is a question the country has to answer. This is also a question the Opposition has to answer though from the comments so far it wishes that he was more forthright. This is not a question the BJP will need to answer because had it felt required to do so it would have begun by asking for the sacking of Mr Narendra Modi. That Mr Modi is staying put is not because he thinks that he is strong enough to do so. He is a hated name in the country today. But he knows that come what may, the Sangh Parivar thinks that its salvation lies in going away from the moderate line and pushing forward a hard-hearted stance. Is the BJP at it? Mr Vajpayee’s elusive replies, Mr L.K. Advani’s enigmatic silence, the Parivar’s support to Mr Modi do not combine to give a unified answer.

The country is on the brink. The BJP will have to decide which way it will go. In the few hours Mr Vajpayee was in Gujarat, the nation came to see two faces of the BJP — an anguished Prime Minister who did not know what face he will, as he confessed, show to the world and a stoic, unmoving Narendra Modi whose look showed the grim intimation that perhaps, if this happens in Gujarat again, he would do the same. That after nearly a thousand deaths and continuing killings day after day for over a month Gujarat should still simmer not only in blood and also is cruelty shows that he may not change.

The question is how the coalition politics and the pressures of the Sangh Parivar will allow Mr Vajpayee to act. In Gujarat he was often seen balancing his words. Besides him throughout his visit was a hard-faced Narendra Modi. How far he agreed with Mr Vajpayee could not be known. And yet he is the one who will or will not bring to practice the words of solace that Mr Vajpayee gave. So far he has done little to make known that he is an anguished as Mr Vajpayee was. Will he take any measures to help the victims? Does he believe that what has happened in Gujarat is utterly ghastly? Or does he think that he is acting according to the Parivar’s programme?

It is not a question of stopping the killings of people being burnt alive. Perhaps, Mr Modi is immune to these considerations. On a secondary level it is a question of a state as large and prosperous as Gujarat being constantly ruled by a communal mob. Is this what Mr Modi wants India to be like? Leave aside the ideology of the BJP or the VHP, just consider whether any part of India can be overrun by such mob fury? Should any administrator, whatever his personal ideology, allow this? Is this how the country should move? This is taking a narrow view of Mr Modi’s deficiencies and ideologies, but the people should ask if a state can be run like this.

This is one point of the analysis. The other one is whether a government, to whichever party it may belong, can believe in the annihilation of a section of a people? The conclusion almost everyone is drawing is whether the BJP wanted to fulfil the kind of a programme it wants to have. Perhaps, it wanted to show in Gujarat how it will do it. Mr Narendra Modi showed how it can be done. If not by elections then by the rule of the sword. The indefensible Godhra provided the opportunity. Those people of Godhra who made this happen on innocent kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya should be condemned and punished severely for what they let happen.

Mr Vajpayee has to sit down with himself (only himself) and decide what he should do. The nation knows that he cannot do all. In the Sangh Parivar a small section, unfortunately a small section, is all for a broad-based, secular comity but the larger section, having tasted the fruits of power, wants to create a society of what it has been dreaming of. The hope that Mr L.K. Advani held out at the formation of the present government with the creation of the coalition that it would help it to govern better and then stabilise itself has been lost. Mr Advani was using that hope as a stop-gap affair. That is why he analysed that to make the BJP fulfil its dream, it would for a while put on the backburner the agitation points of the common civil code. Ayodhya and Article 370. But he did not know that the point to decide would come so soon. The man who set the Ayodhya agitation afire with his rath yatra was perhaps biding his time.

Now the moment of reckoning has come. It has intractably come for Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. This was spelt out by Mrs Sonia Gandhi in truthful and unmistakable terms. It made him angry. As he objected to it, you could see it from the look on his face that he was speaking out of tension. What is he going to do? Almost the same but much less dilemma faced him after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He asked himself in the circumstances where he could have gone. Would he be in the Sangh establishment and through the force of his personality change its direction? He must have known that this would not work. Mr Narendra Modi seems to think that the more of a communal brigand he becomes the greater will be the support he will get in Gandhi’s Gujarat. He even thinks that this will win him the next election. If this is the thinking the country is in for a serious situation.

Mr Vajpayee during his Gujarat tour showed that he was facing a dangerous enemy. If he was in full power in the party which he brought to power by the force of his moderation and leadership, he would not have allowed Mr Modi to remain the Chief Minister and play on the destruction of Gujarat. But he cannot do it. You could see the division within his mind. Mr Modi, helped by the Parivar, would not go even if Mr Vajpayee wanted him to be chastised and sent out. This is Mr Vajpayee’s tragedy. Could it also become India’s tragedy?

Human more than anyone else in the parivar, the humanity in him came out when he asked how anyone could burn a person alive. This was the most telling sentence he uttered in Gujarat. Only a man of sensitivity could have asked it in the welter of so much bloodshed. This shows the finer feeling that stirred in Mr Vajpayee when he saw the suffering. A lesser man would not have seen it like that. He was as forceful earlier when he referred to the hoodlums who entered the Vidhan Sabha environs in Bhubaneswar. He recounted that they were shouting his zindabad but he should have died instead. This was the true Vajpayee, whether a good politician or not but human to the core. In this he came nearer to Jawaharlal Nehru, who during the Partition riots in Bihar asked the mob to kill him first and then walk over his body and go for killings.

The big question is: what will Mr Vajpayee now do? He once asked Nehru whether he was a Chamberlain or a Churchill. Now the people may ask him whether he was a Narendra Modi or a Jawaharlal Nehru.



SYL Canal verdict: an introspection
G.S. Dhillon

“THE SYL Canal is an emotional issue linked to the inter-state dispute between Haryana and Punjab about water allocations,” writes Mr B.G. Verghese in his book, “Winning The Future”. In the post-SYL judgement period, after the fateful day in the history of the region, January 15, 2002, the waters have become murkier. Mr Om Prakash Chautala, the Chief Minister of Haryana, added to Punjab’s ire by asking the people of his state to celebrate the “day of victory” in the fashion of Diwali and show their happiness by illuminating their houses and public buildings.

This led to an equally dramatic reaction from not only the Punjab Chief Minister but also other political leaders with statements like “Not a drop of water would be allowed to flow out of the state”.

There are certain doubts agitating the people of Punjab. These are listed in the form of questions with explanatory statements.

Q 1: Was Punjab’s case before the apex court “well pleaded”? Why was Mr F. Nariman, the distinguished lawyer, removed from the case?

The judgement on page 48 observes that having framed the issue that Haryana’s case was “time-barred” by limitation, but in the course of hearing of the suit Dr Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for the state of Punjab, did not seriously press it. The fact is apparent from the written submission to the court. The question of limitation was not raised, as the court observed.

Q 2: Is Haryana a riparian state in respect of the streams flowing out of the Indus Basin?

Whereas on page six of the judgement it is observed that the state of Haryana not being a riparian state, the water allocated to it has to be drawn by digging a canal (SYL). But on page 58 of the judgement the court has drawn new boundaries of the Indus Basin.

“Within India, the Indus Basin lies in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana and Rajasthan,” the court observed. With this interpretation of the limits of the Indus Basin, both Haryana and Rajasthan acquire a new status of riparian states, which alters the contention of Punjab altogether.

Q 3: What is the status of the Longowal Agreement? During the discussion on issue number 2 framed by the apex court, it had been contented that the status of the above agreement was not different from that of a piece of paper.

Q 4: Who should be in charge of the “regulation” of the flow in SYL?

The court in its judgement on page 97 observes: If the apprehension of the state (Punjab) is that on account of digging of canal (SYL), the state of Haryana would draw more water than that which has been allocated in its favour, then the said apprehension is also thoroughly unfounded inasmuch as the source of drawing water is only from the reservoir (Nangal Dam Pond) which lies within the territory of Punjab and a drop of water will not flow within the canal (SYL) unless the connecting doors (gates) are opened.

But the ground reality is that the regulation of flows from the reservoir to feed SYL portion in Punjab is being operated by a Central agency, the BBMB, in which the Member (Irrigation) so far has been drawn from Haryana. With that position, the apprehension of Punjab is not ill-founded and needs to be redressed.

It may, however, be stated that the politicians of Punjab should stop blaming one another. Punjab has lost a battle, not the war. Preparation for the “next step” to be taken should be made not by a governmental agency alone but by a council having leaders from various political groups. The council should be assisted by a group of “experts” drawn not only from the legal fraternity but also water resources development engineers.

The writer is a Consultant, Water Resources, CII.



Restoring the pride & prestige of our universities

MR Hari Jaisingh’s article “What ails Indian universities” (March 29) and the readers’ response has emotionally surcharged the whole issue. When I was in the hospital after the murderous attack on me engineered by Dr Jaspal Singh Ahluwalia, I had been seriously thinking about the fall of university to such a level.

Punjabi University is in the whirlpool of controversies these days. The Vice-Chancellor is facing charges of moral turpitude and attempt to murder. It is the saddest state of affairs for any institute of higher learning.

Punjabi University is different from other universities of the region in many respects. It is the only university in this region, which is exclusively devoted to the development of Punjabi language and culture apart from the studies in other disciplines. Situated in a larger and traditional Malwa region, it has its own significance in the socio-political processes of the State. It has always been dialogically engaged with its surrounding social structure. It was established in mid-sixties, the period marked by resurgence of the militant left ideology. The student community of this institution has always been in the forefront of all student movements. The faculty also has been an upholder of secular and liberal values. The overall environment of this institution has always been of intellectual freedom and creative dialogue bordering on the celebration of dissent. Self-respect, dignity and freedom of speech have remained the most zealously guarded values.

Punjabi University is not aloof from its host socio-cultural milieu; it is enmeshed through a network of intricate linkages with its cultural surroundings. It represents a unique blend of local cultural and western intellectual values, thus providing a larger canvas of spiritualism, western cosmopolitanism and left- rationalism for a creative dialogue. Sketches of some of the archetypal figures who represent this broad spectrum of cultural values may be useful in highlighting this aspect of the institution. One of these classical figures was Prof. Gulwant Singh, a personification of moral values and purity of character. A scholar of Persian, Sanskrit and Punjabi, he is a symbol of simple living and high thinking.

Another such legendary figure was Prof. Nazar Singh who struggled all his life for the dignity and rights of teaching community. He was suspended and victimised but he never compromised on principles. Prof. Harbans Singh refused to become VC considering it as a diversion from his intellectual pursuits. He completed Encyclopedia of Sikhism in a record time. Another intellectual giant is Prof. H.S. Gill, Professor of Linguistics, who added colour and freshness to the intellectual dialogue in India and abroad. Dr. Ravinder Singh Ravi sacrificed his life for the sake of his ideas. Such members of faculty were higher in stature than many VCs.

The method of dealing with dissent, which was evolved in this university, was essentially human and participatory. The authority structure had evolved through the dialectical interaction of liberalism and dissent. It ensured a high priority to intellectual freedom and dignity of profession. The growth and evolution of Punjabi University should be viewed in this background.

The present crisis demands a closer look at its genesis and development. It also requires a deeper look into the nature and motivations of the main actors. The epicentre of this present crisis, Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, is a unique product of special circumstances. By training and profession he is a bureaucrat, by temperament he is a feudal, by ambition he is a politician, by instinct he is manipulator of words and deeds. Such deadly combination of different derives makes a man unique. If all these derives are crowned by a weakness towards the weaker sex, the combination becomes all the more dangerous. He has spent all his life in the bureaucratic confines, which are both secure and suffocating.

Academic and general administration are quite different from each other. Most administrators fail to understand this difference. Academic administration is characterised by respect for intellectual difference and freedom of thought and expression. To ensure this freedom, academic administration is usually punctuated with checks and balances of committee system. In bureaucratic administration, public remains as an abstract and distant category, it can never reach and see the face of the actual decision-makers. If the decisions are ever questioned, it is the politicians who actually face the public. This facelessness in bureaucratic administration provides immunity to bureaucracy from direct public pressures.

Dr. Ahluwalia came with his fixed notions of general administration. This fixation proved to be a stumbling block in his communication and interaction with the academic community. With his intolerant attitude and whimsical style, he proved to be a proverbial ‘bull in china shop’ from day one. He displayed extreme ignorance and insensitivity towards essential academic and administrative subtleties and niceties of university system. He converted the administrative structure, painstakingly built over the last 40 years, into an ad hoc system. No wonder, his first year in the office witnessed an unprecedented flood of resignations and suspensions. The academic community was shocked and benumbed by his initial outrageous actions.

The present crisis is not only an administrative but also a moral crisis. It is a result of a moral void created through the systematic actions of the VC. Otherwise it is difficult to comprehend, how such incongruous situations can coexist in the same campus in the same timeframe.

The uniqueness of the present crisis lies in the fact that nothing has happened accidentally or by mistake rather everything has happened according to a design. Even the earlier VCs committed mistakes but had no bad intentions.

The central issue in the present context is not the exploitation of a single girl student as it has been projected but the issue of moral degradation of the whole university. It is the collapse of moral fibre of the academic fraternity, which allowed and participated in this downward slide. The question is not to accuse anyone, the question is how and why it happened so effortlessly? Legal and technical explanations may be manipulated for defence, but the monumental immorality involved in this act cannot be wished away even by the most ardent well wishers The uniqueness of Dr. Ahluwalia’s style of functioning lies in giving a philosophic touch to the moral delinquency. He has devised a philosophical foundation for his inconsistent and erratic behaviour. He cleverly misuses the post-modern idiom to justify the moral anarchy. He draws his strength from the modern consumerist culture and belief that ideas can be worn like dresses.

Truth can be manufactured through attractive phraseology and its perpetual repetition. Values and beliefs are like toys to play with. The death of history, ideology and consistency, for him, represents the post-modern deliverance from moral hangovers. This post-modern freedom entitles one to satisfy the most debased instincts without an iota of guilt. As the crisis has unfolded many layers of otherwise hidden aspects, it is time to rethink, reconstruct and rebuild the institution. In the process of rebuilding the image of university and regaining the trust of people, the university teaching faculty has to play a very vital and strategic role. The present situation demands that the teachers by transcending petty considerations and degenerative factionalism should rise to the occasion as a united community. If our home is full of dirt we have to clean it, no one else is going to do it for us.

Dr H. S. BHATTI, Department of Sociology, Punjabi University, Patiala

Politicians as VCs

Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “What ails Indian universities” is very timely. The VCs enjoy unlimited 
powers to promote excellence in the university. But unfortunately they act more as politicians than as academics. They play politics and make fresh appointments on the recommendations of their political bosses or those who can help them get extensions. Those who oppose the VC’s authority and whimsical decisions become evils to be nipped in the bud.

Autonomy has taken an ugly shape in Punjabi University — a fact reflected in the functioning of Dr. Ahluwalia when he registered the then Education Minister for Ph.D under his own supervision. Dr.Ahluwalia knew fully well that the Minister was not capable of doing research and he was not capable of guiding research. But his motive was not research; it was obviously an unholy and unacademic alliance between a bureaucrat-turned academic head and a politician wanting to misuse his powers to satisfy his ego.

Punjabi University needs a VC of high academic calibre and distinction. The sooner the better.

SUKHDEV SINGH, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

Neck & neck race

I appreciate Mr Hari Jaisingh’s deep concern. It seems the VCs of Punjabi University and Punjab Technical University are in a neck and neck race to win some award for the best bad man amongst the VCs of Indian universities. The VC of PTU, Mr. H.S.Gurm, would definitely be placed at No. 1.

Chief Minister Capt. Amrinder Singh has not removed him after his return to power, as promised. As a result, Mr Gurm has recently confirmed all the employees who were appointed directly. He is also alleged to have played with the career of thousands of students, who took the CET-2001 Entrance Exam for admission to engineering colleges of Punjab.


Onus on us

The number of letters to the editor in The Tribune are a testimony to the amount of interest generated among the people on Punjabi University. Some of the letters have come up with numerous suggestions to remove the “malaise ailing the Indian universities”.

It’s time for silent introspection. The “power of the individual” has to be realised by every one. Let’s stop thinking about “making the world a better place”. The world is big enough to make itself better. It is the individual who has to do something about himself.

GIANETAN S. SEKHON, Lecturer, Punjabi University, Talwandi Sabo

Restore the dignity

This refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh's scholarly and thought-provoking article "What ails Indian universities? in which he has analysed the deep-rooted malady afflicting institutions of higher learning in India. He ha slouched the right chord when he says that the crux of problem in the universities is too much of politics and politicking. Universities slack academic autonomy and political leaders continue to interfere in their day-to-day functioning. Financially, they are in a tight position and are always beggars at the doors of state government, which always try to influence the decision-making process of the universities.

VC's are the personal choice of the Chief Ministers and this way the university becomes a department of the State Government where too much political interference by highly motivated political leaders and sycophantic bureaucrats vitiate the whole academic atmosphere. This is the bane of our polity as well as of the academics. Besides, whatever is being taught to the students is socially irrelevant and does not cater to the requirements and demands of the market where liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation are the order of the day. After spending the precious time, money, energy, the helpless youth find nobody to own them and they join the vast army of unemployed where they feel frustrated.

In the present day market, merit is no consideration. A youth can aspire to get a suitable job as a lecturer with respectable wages only if he has got some strong political link or is willing to part with huge amount as a bribe. The selection making bodies like the Punjab Public Service Commission have become politicised and no fair selection can be expected. Such a vicious circle has been created whereby corruption and politics have made a mess of the temples of higher learning where we find pollution all around, thus leading to the deterioration of standards of teachers as well as students.

These centres of higher education should be depolicised. Scholars and academicians of the highest order should be appointed to head these institutions. Role of political leaders should be deleted all together. Persons to be appointed as VCs should be men of integrity, dedication and deep commitment to certain ideals and values which they are expected to uphold. This is very essential to restore the dignity and quality in the academic field. We expect the government not to be a mere spectator; it should do something positive by generating gainful jobs to the educated youth whom we need for tackling the various problems of our country so as to put Indian on the right track on road to development where our youth can compete globally. Let the politicians not try to play with the youth, the system and the nation itself.

PROF K.L.BATRA, Yamunanagar

Crus of the problem

Mr Hari Jaisingh's article "What ails Indian universities? is simply thought-provoking. He has rightly pointed out that the crux of the problem in the case of Punjabi University, as in most other universities, is too much of politics and politicking. The polity is that most of our educationists have transgressed moral and educational laws. They tend to covet money, power and women as in the case of Dr J.S. Ahluwalia. They make a show of honesty or intellectual calibre whereas they conceal their desire for money and women.

The fact is that they rule by crime or intrigue than by education. They insinuate themselves into such surroundings that immorality gains strength. This is, indeed, the real malaise which the universities are facing today. Power, money and women have captivated them more than their minds are enlightened. The fact is that our present-day education falls short of the humanism required to them. Our educationists should be paragons of virtue. Only then would our education become more salutary.

HANS RAJ JAIN, Former Principal, Moga

The period of redemption

Mr Hari Jaisingh’s thought-provoking article on the state of our universities should serve as an eye-opener. He rightly believes that politicisation of our temples of learning is at the root of the evil.

We are what we are, but when political considerations override all merit, many people with tainted past and little integrity come to hold top posts in universities. Not that people of integrity or administrative acumen are not available, but they often suit no political party — each party has its own yes-men and yes-women to “adjust”. And, the head, whether that of Rama or Ravana, matters the most. At times, good persons are not keen to get such assignments.

The disease has become chronicle, the atmosphere polluted. In almost all the 262 universities, politicians of all parties have their strong cells among teachers and students. Teachers are often divided into four groups: pro, anti, neutrals, and fence-sitters, with only one motive in mind — self-interest.

Each ruling party puts up its own people and when governments change, and they change rather too frequently these days, these appointees are the first target. Then? What then? Says Lincoln Steffens: “Power is what men seek, and any group that gets it will abuse it. It is the same old story”. And, the great sufferers in it are students, the youngsters. They watch all this, and a day will come when they will rise in revolt: that would be the period of redemption.

Dr ATMA RAM, Former Adviser, Education (Himachal Pradesh Govt), Dharamsala

The biggest irony

Mr Hari Jaisingh's article has catalysed a lot many intellectuals and professionals not simply to side with him but also to vouch their genuine concerns and anxieties about the falling standards of education.

The biggest irony here in Patiala is that these incidents have become a talking point everywhere. The clever politician and the tricky administrator — including the elitist academician — enjoy life to the last drop, without bothering about the quality and spurning the able, capable and competent to his fate. Unless we change our mind-set, there is no solution for the ills of education.

DR M.L. KAMLESH, Ex-Dean, Physical Education, Patiala

Need to change the mind-set

A university vice-chancellor should be a thorough professional with sharp intellect and rich experience in education and in university administration. The post requires an intuitive outlook after a rigorous life of self-discipline.

Ironically, the post has been politicised and no effort is made even to give it an artificial gloss. As a result, the universities end up with lackluster VCs. The education system at the highest level is at the receiving end. No one seems to be worried about the long-term repercussions of this whimsical approach to the appointment of a VC. In essence, a VC's cap has been made to fit heads of all shapes and sizes. This arbitrariness has played havoc with the functioning of the university system.

The way out of this quagmire is not easy. It needs a change in the mind-set of the appointing authority, a proper screening process and monitoring by a Central body. Once a dent in the mind-set has been made and a positive attitude towards the proper functioning of the universities developed, other things shall follow automatically. A person close to the seat of power can make a big contribution by ensuring that a better person is appointed. Proper screening is not difficult, given the necessary will. Finally, a Central authority has to approve the appointment recommended by the state government. This should put pressure on the state government to appoint the right person.

PROF B. R. SOOD, Department of Physics, Punjabi University, Patiala

Pot calling the kettle black...

Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia's rejoinder (April 1) to Mr Hari Jaisingh's article (March 29) is indeed phony and disingenuous in the extreme. By a perverted logic, the aggressor becomes the aggrieved party — an instance of the pot calling the kettle black.

Would a girl student publicly charge a VC with sexual harassment under external pressure and risk her reputation and career?

No one is persecuting him. It is his own doings that have thrown him into the pit of disgrace. The only way to redemption open to him is to confess, apologise and bow out.

H.S. SIDHU, Patiala



“I mind...”

“I do not mind...”

“I re-mind you...”; “You re-mind me”

“In mind... ‘absent-minded...’ ‘out of my mind’. ‘never mind’!”

....”Mind” as distinct from body”?

“Mind” — where my thinking goes on?

“Mind” — something to do with my brain.

The nature of what we mean by this word when we use it, is something that we must explore if we are to have any idea about ourselves. For, “As I think, so I am”.

Where is “mind”?

How “big” is it?

If I have one where did it come from and where did I obtain it? What is it made of?

I speak about “my mind” but in what respect do I have it or possess it?

And here is a problem.... whatever I think or decide about mind, it will be mind thinking and deciding it!

Yet... I know the mind is thinking it — so, who am I who knows what is being thought?

— From William Corlett and John Moore, The Hindu Sound


If one disciplines the mind he attains perfection. The mind can only converse with the mind. There is no meeting better than the meeting of minds. This mind is the shakti, this mind is the Shiva. This mind is the essence of all the five elements. He who takes this mind to the higher regions, the mystery of the three worlds is revealed to him.

— Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Bawan Akhri Kabir, page 342


It is the mind which performs good deeds and practises righteousness, but when it is puffed up with power it becomes wild and ignorant; The mind is the king, the hero of many battles. It becomes fearless by concentrating on the Name through the grace of the Guru. It overpowers the five vices and kills them.

— Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Asa M 1, page 415


God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

— I Corinthians


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