Wednesday, September 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Financial crunch at HP Agricultural University

The delay in the disbursement of salaries to the employees of H.P. Agricultural University at Palampur has once again brought to the fore the grim financial mess it finds itself in. The non-payment of salaries to the employees of the university seems to be the onset of “Biharisation” of Himachal Pradesh. It is important to realise that if today it is the agricultural university, tomorrow it would be some other institution and thus this malady will gradually spread to all other departments of the state.

The financial crunch in the state has not happened overnight. Politicians of the day have been spending beyond the state’s means and resorting to populist but insidiously harmful policies. Secondly, there has been no check on the wasteful expenditure by the powers that be to maintain lavish lifestyles at the cost of the public exchequer. Since the Board of Management of the university is crammed with bureaucrats and they have been privy to all decisions taken there, they cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility and claim innocence of putting the university into this financial mess.

It is the bureaucracy and the politicians who have misused their power and position to induct their own favourites, often over and above the requirement of the university. Hasn’t the university too been forced to implement populist measures — such as regularisation of daily wagers — resorted by the government without any regard to the consequent financial implications and the necessary budgetary provisions to offset the additional burden?


Now the university is being asked to generate its own resources. Does the university have necessary autonomy to generate its own resources in the real sense? Will the government let the university charge realistic fee from the students irrespective of considerations of the caste, category and sex? Will it let the university charge its clients, including farmers, some realistic amount for technical advice and the technology being generated?

Further, if the university is oversized, so is the bureaucracy too. What concrete steps has the bureaucracy initiated to reduce its own flab and contain its burgeoning financial expenditure? Or does it enjoy total bureaucratic immunity from scrutiny and accountability at the cost of public exchequer and public interest?

If one were to go by the recent press reports, the financial strangulation of the university at the present juncture seems to be a deliberate attempt aimed at taming the non-capitulating Vice-Chancellor by a certain bureaucrat. What a pity that the bureaucracy is holding the entire university to ransom! Hyman Rickover was only right when he said, “ If you must sin, sin against God, not against the bureaucracy. God may forgive you, but the bureaucracy never will.”


Care for the aged

This refers to the article “To ride into oblivion” by Mr S.C. Prashar Aug 26. I totally disagree with the views expressed by the writer and the suggestions he makes. I agree that the aged need caring and nurturing which sometimes becomes difficult to provide because of the busy schedules of their children. Our parents, who have brought us into this world and have spent most of their prime years and earnings on our upbringing and made us what we are today, suddenly become a burden on us when we have to look after them. I wonder how a normal human being can even think of getting rid of his/her elders as suggested by the writer.

Though in today’s busy world we don’t have much time for our elders as we are busy in furthering our careers and looking after our own little ones, but still there can always be a way out of this. We can encourage our elders to join the clubs for the old people or can send them to day care centres for senior citizens and in extreme cases where it is simply impossible for the younger generation to look after the elders, they can be sent to old age homes. There these old people get company and their sons and daughters can carry on with their lives as they want to but they should make sure that their elders are comfortable there and they should visit them as often as possible so that they don’t feel neglected and left out.


Hurdles & the disabled

I am a handicapped person. I am not sufficiently aware of the “so-called” facilities provided by the government for the handicapped because there is no composite document made easily available for this purpose. This category is entitled to a certain amount of money per month according to the percentage of the handicap. This, undoubtedly, is a good thing. I belong to a relatively good family and am not in dying need of this money. But unfortunately, it is not so with all the handicapped people. Does anyone know about the big “hurdles” they have to cross before they can even show their eligibility for this paltry sum, let alone get it?

Government employees who are supposed to process the applications for this money/other facilities and give certificates are not all that courteous with the result that a man-made handicap is added to the natural one. The handicapped wait in big rows to get the certificate/money/other facilities. This is so despite the fact that nearly 6 per cent of our people are disabled.

What is the use of a facility which is so difficult to avail? At least the procedure for this should be made simple and easy enough. A maximum of two visits should be required to the government office/hospital. Much more simple would be to enter the name of a challenged person in the ration card, mentioning the percentage of handicap etc.

My elder brother, who is also handicapped, had applied to Kurukshetra University to get extra time in exams. They said that the rules allowed provision of a “writer”, not “extra time”. Left with no other option, we applied for a “writer” and were told that this facility had been abolished as some people misused it!

One of my known handicapped people applied for TOEFL to seek admission to some US university and easily got such facilities from the US agency on the basis of a medical certificate alone. It is to be pointed out that he did not have to go to the USA to convince them that his disability merits such provisions.


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