Monday, March 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



New university at Sirsa

The decision of the Haryana Government to establish a new university at Sirsa is a welcome step for the development of this educationally backward area. I don’t think it will in any way impair the progress of any other university of the state, as some might profess.

The new university will not only provide better qualitative educational opportunities to the younger generation of the area, it will also be making considerable contribution to the overall socio-economic and cultural development of the region. After all, what was Kurukshetra, a small dingy town of 15,000 souls before the establishment of Kurukshetra University? It owes all its present administrative, cultural, intellectual and academic growth to Kurukshetra University. No doubt, the Sirsa region, now rich in agriculture and business, deserves a seat of higher learning.

I can recollect that when I joined Kurukshetra University in 1962 as a lecturer, there were a very few teachers in the university who belonged to Haryana. All heads of departments of English, Sanskrit, Hindi, Political Science, History, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Law etc were from other states. It was because there was no university in Haryana before the establishment of Kurukshetra University in 1956. Now the situation is quite different. Most of the teachers in universities of Haryana are products of its own universities. The universities of Haryana have produced a large number of administrators, scientists and technocrats in a few decades time. H.A.U. has brought in the Green Revolution.


I would, however, like to emphasis here that there should be proper planning and co-ordination as to which courses should be taught at the new university. In fact, a panel of experts should thoroughly go into the functioning of all universities of the state to make proper and best utilisation of available resources.

M.D.U., Rohtak, was initially established for the study of life sciences. But later, it was converted into a multi-faculty university. G.J.U. at Hisar was to be a technical university, but was later upgraded to be an affiliating university. This has led to unnecessary duplication and waste of resources.

Time has come when we should make each university a centre for specialised postgraduate studies and research in some specific disciplines and courses in order to make these universities get the best of students and best of teachers. If this is done, we will have the best products and there will be no wastage of resources in the form of seats lying vacant and staff being surplus.

Members of the faculties of all universities may be adjusted accordingly on the basis of their aptitude, merit and achievements.

J.B. GOYAL, New Delhi

Skill-oriented education

A debate is going on about English from 1st or 5th standard, but surprisingly no one seems to be concerned about the inclusion of an additional (compulsory) component of skill-oriented training to school and college students and people (particularly in rural areas) in general so that they become innovative, creative and efficient.

Inclusion of skill-oriented training in the education system (even at primary school level) can also be expected to decrease the number of school dropouts (annually about 2.7 crore, and particularly so in rural areas). The production of skilled literates will generate a creative and efficient work-force some can be absorbed in public/private sector jobs, while others can get prepared and motivated towards self-employment/entrepreneurship and hence contribute in improving economic-growth.


Praying with devotion

The Talmudic maxim “Better is a little prayer with devotion than much without it” (“Spiritual nuggets”, Feb 19) has reminded me of Seemaab Akbarabadi’s verse: “Khuloos-e-dil sey jo sajdah ho us sajdey ka kya kaihna/vaheen Ka’abah sarak aaya jabeen ham ney jahaan rakh dee (How wonderful is the prostration made with pure heart? Ka’abah came to the place, I touched with my forehead — in prayer).

Another poet, Musleh-ud-din Ahmad says: “Jaaney kis qibley kee jaanib phir gaya roo-e-niyaaz/Khud chala aata hai Ka’abah jazb-e-eemaan dekh kar” (God knows to which side my humble forehead turned in prayer that Ka’abah itself is coming towards me seeing my faith’s power of attracting).

God does not like mummery or hypocrisy. If someone pretends to be engaged in prayer without actually being so, he/ she deceives himself/herself and not God. He is Omniscent and knows all things. Seemaab says: “Ye rukoo kya, ye qiyaam kya, ye sujood kya, ye salaam kya/ Faqt ik fareb-e-niyaaz hai jo na mahviyyat ho namaaz main” (Bowing, standing up, prostration and concluding act of prayer — postures assumed while saying namaaz — are phony humility, if one is not engrossed in namaaz).

Once Nawab Daulat Khan Lodi asked Guru Nanak to say namaaz with him. He kept aloof. When the prayer was over, he said that while the prelate’s attention was focussed on his ailing son and the calf, which, he feared, might fall into the well, the Nawab, although apparently engaged in namaaz, was thinking of purchasing horses from Kandahar.

Allama Iqbal was a devout Muslim. He said: “Jo main sar-ba-sajdah hua kabhi to zameen sey aaney lagi sada/Tera dil to hai sanam-aashna tujhey kya miley ga namaaz main” (Whenever I prostrared myself in prayer, a voice came from the earth: “Your heart is idolatrous. What will you get from namaaz?”)

It is very difficult to have control over one’s emotions and desires, which lead one astray. Only some mystics can do it. I daily say prayers. Yet I confess that quite often I fail to turn my mind to the holy scriptures I read. While my tongue recites “Ardaas”(invocatory prayer) for divine favours, my heart wanders in the realm of odd notions and caprises. If still God accepts my prayers, He certainly acts mercifully.

Some people pray to God for succour only when they are in distress and forget Him when their circumstances take a favourable turn. But the really pious and prayerful people always worship Him with devotion, purity of heart and sincerity of intention.

“Khuda manzoor karta hai dua jab dil sey hoti hai.

Magar mushkil to ye hai ke bari mushkil sey hoti hai.”


Not at first sight

Apropos the letter “Made in heaven” by Geeta Gupta of Ambala (Feb 15), I harmonise with her on the view that “instant love” is simply an infatuation. But, broadly speaking, in certain cases, this infatuation may develop into love and further move on to an ever-lasting relationship. What we consider “love at first sight” is no love, but an attraction, which everybody can overcome. The meetings that follow the first meeting definitely assist Cupid in playing its role. I rewrite that love cannot be imposed on anybody. It happens at its own free will.

I definitely feel that marriage is the fruit of love. It’s still beyond my comprehension, how one can love a stranger. In arranged relations, boys and girls are bound to love each other, because their families don’t leave them with alternatives. It’s not necessary that love be a part of every marriage. Many couples merely drag their loveless marriage for the sake of their kids or due to the fear of social stigma.

To pray to God on the pretext of loving a particular person is like kidding to get a particular toy. Yes, once love happens, prayer is undoubtedly indispensable to protect and nurture the loving relation. A good marriage, whether love or arranged, is like a sturdy oak tree, standing tall, season to season, weathering, enduring and growing. It is a lifelong process of discovering each other more deeply.

Marriages may be made in heaven, but man is responsible for the maintenance work.


Bakar or Baqar Id?

Haj and Id were very much in the news recently. In the reports about them Id was mentioned variously as “Id-ul-Zuha”, Id-uz-Zuha” and “Eid-ul-Zuha” (Ei part of ‘Eid’ was meant to show correctly that the initial letter was the Persian letter “ain” and not the first letter of the alphabet “alif”) It will, however, be of interest to note that the right word is actually “id (or Eid)-ul-Azha” meaning Id of sacrifices”: indeed Zuha has no relevance in that context and strictly speaking is an error there.

Incidentally the second name for “Id-ul-Azha”, that is “Baqar Id”, has also suffered quite a twist over the years. Most of our people have great difficulty in pronouncing the sound of “q” and instead of it use the sound “K” in their speech. The result has been that “Baqar Id” has been changed into “Bakar Id” (Bakar” means goat) and the new name is now in common use.

Saroop Krishen, Chandigarh

Mulk Raj Anand

Dr Mulk Raj Anand has written numerous letters to various persons over the last eight decades, and many of them give very important clues to the understanding of his art and craft. So far three anthologies of his letters have appeared.

Now there is a proposal (and Anand’s cherished wish) to bring out a more comprehensive compilation of his letters. I appeal to your readers to send copies of Anand’s letters they have received from time to time at my address-Sat Sadan, Gamroo, Sessions Road, Dharamsala (H.P.)

DR ATMA RAM, Dharamsala


Q: Guess as to what conferring the degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa) on VIPs amount to?

A: Bin phere hum tere.

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar


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