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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

Education needs a new approach

The article “Enhancing excellence: Charter as instrument of reform in universities” by Dharam Vir and S. K. Mullick (Perspective, March 25) was timely. Being a dedicated teacher, I firmly believe that education holds the key to any prospect of achieving the high goals that the Republic has pledged itself to, namely, a polity that would secure to all citizens justice, freedom, equality and brotherhood.

The pursuit of these goals would involve many hard decisions including dismantling the pyramid of privileges that we have built up in the name of education. The anarchic environment in which our higher education had been functioning for some time had made it impossible to distinguish between bad management and bad leadership. It made no difference whether the persons in charge were deficient in administrative skills or in academically valuable ideas.


 

During his tenure as Union Education Minister, the late M. C. Chagla continued to maintain that “we made a serious mistake, when we drafted the Constitution, in making education a State subject”. Evidently, he ascribed our education’s lack of ambition to it being controlled by small men in the state capitals. The powerless UGC has failed to discharge its responsibility for the “determination and maintenance of standards of teaching, examination and research in universities”.

The UGC, in its half a century of existence, has not even seen the need for establishing a centre for research into what we are doing and ought to be doing in higher education. It is incorrect to refer to states “running” universities because universities live by self-regulation. The state’s function is to make the basic law relating to university, find the money and to ensure that the self-regulation is effective.

Socrates warned that the unexamined life was not worth living. The unexamined lives of our universities and colleges should be cleansed and illumined by a process of self-study. The academic community should remember Dr Johnson’s warning, “No man was ever written down except by himself”. We need a new strategy, a radical change in approach and attitudes. Our universities should not function like secret societies and the disciplines should not be turned into arcane pursuits.

In a historic judgement, the Supreme Court has held that there is deterioration of standards and rectitude in management of higher educational institutions. It is hoped that the executive would cure the malady and restore the lost glory of the educational institutions.

ANIL BHATIYA, Dept of English, D.N. College, Hisar

II

The article is an eye-opener. There is an urgent need to have students’ charter as an instrument to introduce reforms and transparency in the Indian education system.

The writers have rightly highlighted certain issues to be included in the student’s charter. Students’ funds too need to be added in the charter. Welfare funds, maintained by institutes, is another area to be looked into.

Many a time the students’ funds meant for their welfare get misused by the authorities. The regulatory bodies must draft a model charter as part of the rules and regulations of the university.

SANJIV JAWA, Jagadhari

III

Being an engineer aspirant, I feel that every state should have at least one IIT, one IIM and a medical institute of the AIIMS stature.

To enhance our budding excellence and to enrich and encash our knowledge bank, we must plough a big chunk of our GDP in building up some giant educational institutions: the temples of Global India.

ANTRIKSH, Chandigarh

Bridging the divide

V N. Dutta’s review of “Partitions: Reshaping States and Minds” (Spectrum, April 1), throws up a host of possibilities regarding the 1947 India-Pakistan divide that could have been gainfully exploited for the benefit of all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others only by mature and impartial statesmen.

It was the Congress’ ethnic, divisive politics that led to the redrawing of the geographic boundaries, and a nagging fear in the Muslim community that the likes of Nehru and Sardar Patel would never permit equal power sharing for them.

Mahatma Gandhi, so tuned to dance to Nehru’s persuasion, failed in asserting himself fully as he had done in the Dandi March and on other occasions in avoiding Partition, and will not be remembered for long in any objective analysis of Partition. Gandhi scuttled Sikandar Hayat’s plan for an undivided India into seven zones, and Nehru went a step further after Independence had been achieved when he outright went back on the agreed formula with Master Tara Singh to give the Sikhs greater autonomy within India, also termed as a “glow of freedom”.

The British did not need a divide-and-rule policy to rule India; we have been a fragmented state, ridden by caste and communal politics. The ethnic divide in the North-East, the Naxalite problem and the concern that the SAD and many Sikhs share in being swamped by the majority community should awaken us to the dangers of another divide.

Major-Gen HIMMAT SINGH GILL (retd), Chandigarh


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