Govt can’t keep mum over PAU affairs

The word “misfortune” used by Dr Amrik Singh in his article, “CM vs VC” is the right word in a wrong context. A few more articles and letters have also appeared in The Tribune. Unfortunately, a few people, particularly persons of Dr Amrik Singh’s stature, are commenting on the PAU affairs without any knowledge of the real issues in question.

The hue and cry over the ouster of a political patronage the PAU VC enjoyed is totally misplaced. What the former VC did during his tenure should not be judged only from his cleverly drafted and highly publicised letter of resignation.

The PAU’s recognition from the Centre by way of Rs 100-crore special grant, highlighted by Dr Aulakh in his letter, is due to the institution’s achievements since its inception and not any landmark work done by him. Contrary to his assumption, the PAU faculty and other functionaries were not at all involved in major academic and administrative decisions. Dr Aulakh’s personal whims were behind all such decisions, affecting the basic character of the university.

The decision to merge or relocate departments like biotechnology, genetics, food technology, sociology and extension education was taken to satisfy the whims of the chief executive so that he could teach a lesson to his adversaries. The campus was turned into a cantonment on the false pretext of security. The former VC gagged the voice of elected bodies of the teachers and employees.

The Punjab Government should refrain from interfering in the day-to-day functioning of universities in normal circumstances but if the situation takes the worst turn, as in the case of PAU, it cannot remain a mute spectator.




An immediate reform could be to de-emphasise administration and decentralise it to the point where it will be seen as sub-serving the needs of teaching and learning. A first step towards escape from the pressure of trivia is to follow Peter Druckler’s advice - remove all papers from the desk of the person whose role is that of creative academic leadership with integrity.

If the VC keeps off his desk, he will get time to involve himself more seriously in the classroom, library, laboratory, playground and common room. This will help VCs to get over complacency and sloth.

Central Universities could be the nation’s laboratory for innovation and change in higher education. Universities are a State subject, but this should not prevent the UGC from pulling them up for lapses. The Constitution expressly adds that this is subject to the provision of certain entries in the Union List, which includes “the coordination and determination of standards” in centres of higher education or research.

Sanctions for enforcing the UGC’s decisions and counsel should be more drastic like withholding of recognition, not just of grants. Without developing such an authority, the lost ground in education cannot be retrieved.

CHHAVI, Chandigarh


No VC would have been ill-treated like Dr Aulakh in any British or American universities because of the academic and administrative freedom the VCs enjoy in the west.

For instance, Oxford University, having decided to confer an honorary degree on Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister in the late 1980s, later withdrew it for political reasons. Such a decision by any university in India would not have gone unpunished, given the overwhelming power enjoyed by the state over the universities.

Clearly, the crucial issue is the hegemony of state power over universities. So long as the state reigns supreme, men and women of vision holding positions such as Dr Aulakh would continue to be bullied by the state.

Prof D.R. SHARMA, Bathinda

Question of propriety

West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi has declined the post of Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith on the ground that he did not meet the criterion of being a “100 per cent khadi practitioner” as laid down for the Chancellor’s post in the university’s constitution.

In an era increasingly marked by brazen jockeying for the coveted office of a university Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor, Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi’s principled stand is highly commendable. How refreshing, indeed! May the rare Gandhian’s tribe multiply!



Uma’s U-turn

The editorial “Parivar girl Uma” (April 16) was interesting. Uma Bharti may be an enfant terrible, but being thoroughly soaked in patriotism, it is only natural that sooner or later she is back en famille.

It may be recalled that except Shankar Singh Vaghela who got a crumb in the form of a ministerial berth at the Centre, all those who went against the Parivar had to lick the dust. M. C. Sharma was blown into nothingness when he betrayed the party. And the poor Balraj Madhok is still licking his wounds.


Bicameral legislature

In his article on Legislative Councils (April 14), B.G. Verghese has made an impassioned plea for the revival of Upper Houses in the states at a time when the relevance even of the Lower House “as guardian of democratic values” is under doubt.

He has not given the financial implications of the revival of the Upper Houses in all the states, but the argument of “wasteful expenditure” is not a figment of imagination. Bankruptcy is an achieved fact so far as the states are concerned. None but the State Assemblies are responsible for the economic mess - the annual budgets are planned and voted there.

The argument that the House works for people’s empowerment does not hold water, because there can be empowerment without two square meals a day. The writer himself questions the “work culture” of the lower house and piously hopes the upper house will behave better.

Dr L.R. SHARMA, Solan



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