Thursday, September 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Holding a position in a university is a privilege

In the article “Universities and the state” (Sept 9) Dr Amrik Singh has raised an issue which needs a careful consideration of the bureaucracy, the governing political elite and even the society in general as also the academics.

Harold L. Enarson, once President of the Ohio State University, stated that “the universities are a very special kind of place. They are fragile as truth is fragile. They exist by public sufferance, and it is a marvel that the public at large supports with its dollars an institution that is independent, free-standing, openly critical of the conventual wisdom, friendly to disputation, enchanted with controversy and hospitable to those ‘who think otherwise’. May it always be so.” This expression has been widely quoted.

It is a privilege to be on the faculty of a university. The position carries with it a high responsibility. Society experts the academia to conscientiously and honestly perform the function of transmission and creation of knowledge. The academics are to project themselves as role models to the students.

The persons who preside over the universities are to be individuals of special merits, commanding personalities with high intellectual calibre and moral worth, scholars and thinkers in their own rights, and inspirers of the young and not so young. The decay of an institution starts from the top; a wrong person at the helm of affairs brings disillusionment and chaos. Hence, the need for all the carefulness in choosing the leader of academics.


C.D. Deshmukh, the country’s Finance Minister after Independence, was eminently successful in handling the job on hand. When he relinquished the position, he became Chairman of the University Grants Commission and acquitted himself very well in the new assignment. Thereafter he accepted to be the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi. Some felt that it was below his dignity to slide and settle for Vice-Chancellorship after having occupied more senior and coveted offices. However, mature colleagues were of the view that it was perfectly in order. An enthusiastic academic observed that the position should be considered to be prestigious enough that a retired President of India, one without political antecedents of course, should not decline if such an assignment is offered to him.

The position of Vice-Chancellor is to be highly valued. To draw home the point I may repeat a story which pertains to Charles W. Eliot, the distinguished President of Harvard (1869-1909) and Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President (1901-09) of the USA. The US President happened to call the Harvard President from Washington D.C. It was a few minutes before Eliot’s Secretary could reach him. Then she said: “President Eliot is ready to talk to Mr Roosevelt”.


One rank, one pension

The Centre has failed to accept the demand of retired soldiers for one rank, one pension. We know paucity of funds is the main cause. There is no paucity of funds for the corrupt authorities who are amassing crores of rupees.

A Major who retired before January, 1996, is drawing Rs 2,500 per month less than a Major, who retired after January, 1996. This difference will increase in the near future.

D.C. KATOCH, Amb (Una)

Loan against pension

The State Bank of Patiala charges 15 per cent interest on loans advanced against pension/salary, which is quite on the high side in incomparison to the house loan which is 9.5 per cent repaid within five years. A loan against pension/salary is repaid within two-three years.


Follow the rule

At a red light in Sirhind we all were waiting for the light to turn green when a VIP vehicle jumped the light and zipped off as if it was his right. The traffic policeman instead of stopping the car promptly saluted the VIP.

It seems the law is only for ordinary citizens. People who flout the law are saluted by policemen. In the Army even the seniormost officer dare not break the rules or any law. This is not because those officers are not important enough. It is because they know that the example they set will be followed down the hierarchy.

The attitude of VIPs is disgusting. The apathy of the police in dealing with VIPs is ever worse.

UDESHPAL SINGH MANN, Talanian (Fatehgarh Sahib)

Young achiever

Until 1994 I was the youngest Indian girl who at the age of 15 rode a bicycle to reach Khardungla from Jalandhar. My name was recorded in the Limca Book of Records. But I regret to say that this achievement was neither recognised by the government nor by any newspaper.


Private colleges

Many privately managed-aided colleges of Haryana are functioning without validly constituted governing bodies. Consequently, these colleges feel emboldened to perpetuate mismanagement in matters of appointments and other service conditions of teachers.

It is high time the Vice-Chancellors of Kurukshetra University/ MDU and the Higher Education Commissioner strictly enforce the university statutes and provisions of the Security of Service Act.


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