Gift culture flourishing in varsities

This refers to the report “Of humouring NAAC members and college ratings” by Raman Mohan (January 17). It is amazing to read that now colleges have become so rich that they provide “air fare and limousines for travel” to visiting National Assessment and Accredition Council (NAAC) teams for a favourable grading. (These colleges, however, might be paying a pittance to their highly qualified teachers).

Yet this report is true to a large extent. It has taken into account visits by not only the NAAC team but also UGC officials to colleges and universities.

It was not so till about two decades ago. At that time too, there used to be ‘extra’ hospitality. But this kind of presentation of “suitcases filled with gifts” is a culture developed after the establishment of NAAC by the UGC.

Earlier, UGC teams visited colleges and universities at the time of Five-Year plans, which they still do, to decide the annual grant to these institutions. I remember on one such occasion when the Vice-Chancellor of a university in the state did not show enough “warmth” in his hospitality. Despite showing a lot of academic development and new projects in science, the university grant was not increased by a single pie, whereas in a neighbouring university with “good” hospitality measures, the grant was increased even without much show of development.



I have noticed members of such teams openly demanding favours from universities such as fellowships and research projects despite being of mediocre academics. People, who know the inside functioning of such institutions, assert that the influence of “gift culture” and “references” from the right (political) quarters help to get “things done.”

In such circumstances, those who stand on dignified academic conduct, suffer the ignominy of lesser grades in “assessments”. Those who are well-versed in such bureaucratic games, play well to win high grades.


Abolishing the post of Pro-VC

Now it is celebration time in Punjabi University primarily for two reasons. Firstly, three of the luminaries associated with the university have been chosen for prestigious national awards. While Ms Amrita Pritam and Dr S.S. Johl have been decorated with Padma Vibushan, Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana has been conferred the Padma Shri.

Secondly, the state Cabinet has abolished the post of Pro-Vice-chancellor. Due to the reasons arising out of the so-called VC-PVC tussle, some people kept the university in the news for the whole of last year. One of the write-ups in The Tribune (November 16, 2003) even dubbed it a tug of war between the academics and the bureaucrats.

This decision of the Cabinet is enough to silence the disgruntled elements, persistently involved in filing complaints to the state authorities on flimsy grounds. The state authorities appear to have understood the tricks for what they are. They have resolved many contentious issues in just one stroke. After all, “Naa rahegaa bans, naa bajegi bansoori”.

DR DHARAM PAL MOR, Punjabi University, Patiala

Land encroachments

I appreciate the views of Dr Iqbal Singh Kalra (January 21) regarding the Punjab Government’s ill-conceived plan to regularise illegal constructions in the urban areas. Instead of giving any concession to land-grabbers and to those who violate municipal building bylaws, the encroachments should be demolished. Unless exemplary action is taken, there will be more violations in future. These encroachments exist with the connivance of politicians and bureaucrats of Punjab. Otherwise, how could the Municipal Corporation sleep over the matter.

Political interference is behind the move to regularise illegal constructions. This is the handiwork of rich industrialists who are hand in glove with politicians. These encroachments also add to the problems of congestion, traffic jams and road accidents.

PROF A.D. BHALLA, Ludhiana

Heart disease

A few days ago, I rushed back from the US when my 68-year-old father (D.R. Sharma, Pathankot) died. Since postmortem is almost never done in India, the exact cause could not be ascertained. The doctors who attended on him said that considering his history of heart problems, it was a massive heart attack.

My father was quite active and was fond of long walks and yoga. Recently, he had attended Vipassana meditation camps. He had plans to travel abroad and was full of life. We cannot help feeling that had he been more particular, we could have spent several more years with him.

Let this be a warning that we should not take chances with our body by being negligent when it comes to things like heart disease, which is a silent killer.

NARESH SHARMA, Pathankot, Punjab

Truth vs falsehood

I read with interest Meera Malik’s write-up, “Satyamev Jayate?” (Spectrum, January 11). The writer has aptly observed the battle between truth and falsehood. The moral values which the writer talks of are, in fact, no longer prevalent.

Falsehood always tries to overpower truth but has everytime and everywhere received a blow. The taste of truth has always been bitter, yet it has withstood all evils.


Teacher’s role

This refers to the article “Johl owes everything to his guru” (January 29) in which Dr Johl rightly praises his teacher. He speaks in glowing terms of his teacher’s powerful role in moulding his life. I think even in this day and age, despite commercialisation, such teachers exist and are respected.

DEEP INDER,Majan College, Darsayt, Sultanate of Oman


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