Tuesday, February 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Growth of Punjabi and university

MUCH dust has been raised over the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor’s multi-dimensional attempt to reshape the developmental perspective of Punjabi. Media reports, including one in The Tribune “Relaxation in Punjabi University Act” (Feb 7) have been concentrating on what the Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.S. Boparai, wants to do in this connection rather than on his intentions behind this move. Is it or is it not to attract the best talent? Is it to further the overall development of Punjabi language, art and culture or a fragmented or superficial approach as projected by the media? Is it biased for or against the holistic promotional approach?

If his directive to the university’s AVRC Director, inter alia, to make documentaries on Punjabi folk games, Punjabi folk dances, Punjabi folk singers for the UGC’s countrywide classroom programmes and revival of Punjabi folk music festival could stand as any evidence, it seems that his Punjabi-affirmative intentions cannot be doubted.

And I think what is more important and needed to be gauged and tested is the intention behind the act than the act itself as goes a couplet from Guru Granth Sahib: “Teerath, barat aur daan kar, man main dharai gumaan, Nanak nihfal jaat teh juon kunchar isnaan” (with projection of the self, lying as a motive, such sacred acts as pilgrimage, fast and giving of alms go in vain and can be treated as insignificant as taking of a dip in waters by a flying bird).


It also reminds me of a proverbial statement that “those misunderstand, who do not want others to know that they do not understand”. There are, in fact, some flaws which seem to have creeped into the university calendar itself, probably due to lack of foresight on the part of those who were behind the establishment of Punjabi University as is evident from the varsity Act which states that “An act to establish and incorporate a university for the advancement of Punjabi studies and development of Punjabi language as a medium of instruction or otherwise for providing of instruction in humanistic and scientific subjects.”

It seems contrary to the objective behind the setting up of a university, where in addition to various other subjects education in many oriental and foreign languages has to be imparted. What will be their medium of instruction? They perhaps would never have thought about such concepts as globalisation, heightened selectivity and a devilishly swift pace of development of a university named after a language.

Ironically, and to the surprise of those who are shouting themselves hoarse against the “anti-Punjabi” stance of the Vice-Chancellor, the university calendar itself states that, “English version of Punjabi University calendar is authorised text. In case of conflict between English version and Punjabi version, English version will prevail”. More interestingly, no Punjabi University teacher or none of the teachers’ groups have uttered a single word for or against the move, while some outsiders are showing much disquiet about it.

Love for one’s mother tongue is not only unquestionable but is also appreciable. Obsession, on the other hand, with it is pernicious and damaging, and unconceivable, at least for the scholars of a higher seat of learning. A random survey of these so-called lovers of Punjabi would reveal that getting their children educated in convent and public schools has become a de rigueur among a big majority of them.

And moreover, the onus of sole development of Punjabi is the task of such specialised institutions and agencies as the Punjab Languages Department, the Punjabi Sahit Academy, the Punjabi Academy, so on and so forth. Let us not relegate and reduce the university into an academy for the development of Punjabi only.

Knowledge only of Punjabi, to my mind, will leave us in the middle of nowhere. It will just be like pre-paid mobile services which after crossing the boundaries of Punjab start displaying. “Searching for network” or “Area not allowed”.

Under the given circumstances, what best could be done is to make a suitable amendment to the University Act to make it more comprehensive so as to accommodate newer areas in its fold and put paid to all imaginable controversies for all times to come.


Politics of language

Some of the statements appearing in the Press flaying the decision of relaxation given to the teachers to pass Punjabi within one year of joining the service than at the time of interview in Punjabi University are uncalled for. Let’s not give political colours to the decisions taken in larger academic interests. Dragging educational institutions and that too of higher education is quite unfortunate.

Not withstanding the claims that the university has been established for development of the language, it is worth mentioning that ever since the university has been established, no such condition of having passed Punjabi at the time of interview had ever been there. In fact, the teachers appointed in the decades when the university was established were not required to pass Punjabi even afterwards.

Second, the clause of making the passing of Punjabi mandatory at the time of interview was introduced only during the tenure of the previous V.C. The decision of the present V.C. is in no way detrimental to the development of the language, instead the university will be able to recruit the best teachers among the good number of talented aspirants from all over the globe.

Whether passing Punjabi be made mandatory for a Punjabi University teacher at the time of his interview or he be allowed to pass it in one year or not at all, how could such small things harm the interest of a language so vast and dear not only to Punjabis but many others all over the world is beyond comprehension.

Dr D.P. SINGH MOR, Patiala

Army recruitment: rules misunderstood?

APROPOS the news item “Technical error blurs youths’ Army dream” (Feb 10), the insistence on the part of the Army recruiting authorities on prefixing the word “Sikh” to castes Mazhabi and Ramdasia on a caste certificate is misplaced. It may be due to ignorance or a typical “clerical” (babu’s) approach to the interpretation of rules. First, there is no division on the caste basis in Sikhism as it is a casteless religion. The English introduced the system of regimentation in the Army on the basis of region, class, religion, caste and cultural identity due to various sociological and psychological considerations, which have certainly stood the test of time till date. Whether to continue with it or not is a subject of debate in various forums. Any efforts to press for prefixing any caste with the word “Sikh” will be an infringement of the basic tenets of Sikhism.

Secondly, professing a particular religion is purely a personal matter which does not require a certificate from anybody. One only needs to “declare” one’s religion while filling documents for a job or admission etc. Nowhere a certificate is required for religion. For Army recruitment also, mere declaration in recruitment documents by the individual concerned should suffice to establish his religious identity. Asking for a certificate for a religion is irrelevant.

Ex-servicemen’s organisations will do well to impress upon Army Headquarters to do away with this requirement to avoid raising another religious controversy, and educate their recruitment staff to interpret the written rules practically. Pressurising the civil government on this matter will not be a pragmatic approach.





Apropos the news brief “Five hurt as school bus stoned” (Feb 14) in Ludhiana Tribune, I am appalled at the sheer madness of the youths who attacked a bus full of innocent children. This goes to show the degradation of our youth in Punjab. How sick (mentally) must you be to act in this manner?

In the USA, it is a crime to even overtake a school bus that is loading children. It can happen only in India that mad men stone a bus and injure children. These hooligans should be brought to justice and severely punished. There can be absolutely no excuse for such terrorism. Shame on our system if we are unable to send these kinds of psychotic jokers behind bars for a long, long time.


Corruption & GDP growth

Mr G.K. Pandey points out in “Corruption and Public Expenditure” that one unit hike in corruption lowers GDP growth by 1.4 per cent — and we can well imagine its shattering impact on the shaky social, economic and educational status of our country. Moreover, this ill-earned money promotes criminality in our society.

A hike in the salaries of bureaucrats on the Singapore model will not solve the problem. In order to find a workable solution, we need stringent laws against corruption, strict implementation of such laws and rigorous punishment for the offenders.

Dr RATTAN SINGH, GND University, Amritsar

Accepted facts

This refers to the article “Corruption & public expenditure” (Feb 5) by G.K. Pandey. The result of the study by Transparency International that Indians spend an estimated amount of Rs 28,000 crores every year on paying bribe is neither surprising nor shocking. The phenomenon has become an accepted fact of life in India with no anticipated liberation in sight as the nation seems to have lost its will to fight the menace.


Kidney scam probe

Why is the state government not agreeing to the persistent demand of the people for widening the scope of the SIT so as to include the role of politicians, bureaucrats and other influential persons in the much publicised racket? The only inference one can draw is that all the tall claims made about the transparency of its functioning are hollow.

Where should the patients in dire need of kidney transplantation for saving their lives go now for all institutions in the state engaged in this job earlier have abandoned such operations altogether?


An unholy trade

It is shocking how an unholy trade in the holy city of Punjab continued for seven years and no action was taken. Either the kidney scam had the patronage of politicians and bureaucrats or the state is so incompetent to take notice of such a big scam. All the recipients belong to rich and influential families and donors to the poor sections of society. In a democratic country like ours we cannot allow the rich a right to live and take away the same right of the poor.


Need for CBI probe

In the letter “Violation of law” (Feb 8) the views expressed by Dr P.K. Kohli are his personal and of the IMA, Haryana. The IMA, Haryana, fully supports the stand of the IMA, Punjab, and we demand a probe by the CBI to bring out the truth. The doctors are being selectively targeted. The Special Investigation Team appears to be shielding bureaucrats and politicians who were actively involved in the kidney scam.

DR R.L. GARG, Rohtak

Fake blood reports

This refers to the news item “Hospital issued fake blood reports” (Feb 12). A couple of days back a consumer court slapped a compensation of Rs 18 lakh on Apollo Hospital, Delhi, for giving blood to a girl patient which was hepatitis-B infected.

In the infamous multi-crore kidney scam not only reputed doctors but also some lawyers, politicians and policemen are alleged to be involved.

Costly injections and glucose containing just water are sold at many places. Certain reputed doctors advise tests just to make easy money. Our legal system is flawed as a rich man can escape punishment by engaging reputed lawyers. There should be a provision in the IPC for awarding the death sentence to such enemies of society. The lower courts should grant anticipatory bail in rarest of rare cases.


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