EDUCATION TRIBUNE

Knee-jerk reaction
College takeover exposes government’s shortsightedness
Sunit Dhawan
T
he Haryana Government’s recent “experiment” of wresting the control of the erstwhile University College, Rohtak, from Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) has ultimately proved a classic case of “much ado about nothing.” Apart from exposing the lack of vision on part of the state authorities, it also presents a characteristic example of how the educational institutions should not be run.

Strong industry-academia ties needed
Ramesh Chander
A
dichotomy prevails in the country —on one hand, educated youth are unable to find commensurate employment after completion of studies; on the other hand, industry suffers a loss of productivity for inadequate availability of competent and skilled work force. Thus, the situation calls for immediate attention of policy makers to redress the issue on a sustainable basis.

Campus Notes

  • Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar

  • CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar

  • Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

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Knee-jerk reaction
College takeover exposes government’s shortsightedness
Sunit Dhawan

The Haryana Government’s recent “experiment” of wresting the control of the erstwhile University College, Rohtak, from Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) has ultimately proved a classic case of “much ado about nothing.” Apart from exposing the lack of vision on part of the state authorities, it also presents a characteristic example of how the educational institutions should not be run.

The episode has underlined the fact that the institutions of higher learning should be governed by a well-defined policy laid out by eminent academicians and administrators in accordance with a uniform central plan. In any case, there should not be any room for the politicians trying to run these as per their whims and fancies.

At the same time, the college teachers, who were put to bitter humiliation in the process, also failed to launch a struggle for their rights. While the teachers meekly surrendered to the authorities’ wishes, the university administration also did not assert its autonomy to defend the teachers appointed by it.

It all began in April, 2006, when the Haryana Government decided to take over the administrative control of the University College located on the campus of MDU. At that time, the college had around 15 government-appointed teachers and nearly 80 university-appointed teachers. The college was later named as Pandit Neki Ram Sharma Government College.

All university-appointed teachers serving at the college were subsequently relieved. While some of these teachers were adjusted in the university teaching departments, nearly 50 were rendered without any work and without even any place to sit. In the meanwhile, the MDU executive council decided to open the University College of Basic and Professional Studies to adjust these teachers. The prospectuses were also prepared but the government did not clear the proposal.

Finally, after subjecting these teachers—nearly half of whom were women—to humiliation and mental torture for long, the state authorities ultimately decided to send them back to the college. Following the orders in this regard, these teachers were automatically relieved. However, many of them have not yet joined the college.

On the other hand, the fate of those teachers who had been accommodated in the university teaching departments is also uncertain as they have been adjusted on a temporary basis. Besides, such teachers feel harassed as they are being regarded as “unwelcome guests” in the teaching departments.

All in all, the state government has failed to justify its whimsical decision by any stretch of logical reasoning or explanation. The allegations that the MDU authorities’ refusal to adjust a college teacher close to a highly-placed bureaucrat of the state in University College had triggered the move make the matter even more serious.

“This is a complete failure of the state government as well as university authorities,” observes Dr Rajinder Chaudhary, president of the MDU Teachers Association. He points out that neither has any purpose been achieved by this whole exercise, nor is there any justification for it.

Dr Chaudhary maintains that apart from subjecting the affected teachers to mental torture, humiliation and harassment, the decision has also destabilised the university administration. “The fact that the over one-year-old issue remains unresolved even till date underscores the gravity of the situation,” he adds.

The teachers’ association has taken up the matter at the highest level by urging the university Chancellor and the state authorities to take immediate and effective steps to sort out the matter. The association has demanded that the state authorities should reconsider the decision of taking over the reins of the erstwhile University College in the larger interest of the students as well as the teaching community.

Even as the students and the academic atmosphere remained the worst sufferers, the affected teachers also did not set a good example by totally giving in to the authorities’ whims. While most of them were too afraid to speak up for their rights and against humiliation, some used their high connections to barter lucrative positions.

One of the affected teachers has recently been made the Registrar of a state university, while another teacher of the same college was appointed the Registrar of MDU earlier. The others, however, continue to suffer silently. In the given situation, one fails to understand whom to look up to for justice when the government itself is the oppressor, and the oppressed spineless.

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Strong industry-academia ties needed
Ramesh Chander

A dichotomy prevails in the country —on one hand, educated youth are unable to find commensurate employment after completion of studies; on the other hand, industry suffers a loss of productivity for inadequate availability of competent and skilled work force. Thus, the situation calls for immediate attention of policy makers to redress the issue on a sustainable basis.

This dichotomy is deeply embedded in the inactive and inert relationship between the industry and the academia. Both should have a symbiotic relationship to fulfil each other’s needs and expectations because a larger interaction can provide much-needed financial resources to the academia and competent manpower to the industry, besides product innovation and improvements.

Such interaction between the two will strengthen the competitiveness, wealth creation and economic performance of the country by the enhancement of knowledge transfer, skills and stimulate innovation through collaborative projects. The present-day relationship between the two should be more interactive and participative for a win-win situation. In some areas, particularly in pharmaceutical and information technology industries, the relationship between the two is visible, but the same is just not adequate to redress the issue in right perspective.

The educational institutions may seek collaborative relationships with business houses to promote advancement of knowledge by improving the quality of instruction and research. It will provide faculty, who have little or no industrial experience, an opportunity to rub shoulders with people having hands-on experience in the industry. Such experience can have a positive impact on teaching and curriculum development.

There are several factors for the lack of success of the effort to form closer collaborative relationship. The existing academia rewarding system does not encourage faculty members to work with the industry. The appointment procedures of most universities are too rigid to allow them to hire people from the industry with real-time experience.

University regulations regarding industry-university collaborations need to be amended to incorporate desirable personnel from the industry, so that students can benefit from the resulting interaction. Successful stint with the industry and a desire to understand and solve the problems of students should be taken into account while considering promotion to such persons. The study material should be designed and delivered by these teachers in a way that their students can be better prepared for challenges of the continuously changing world.

Add to it, university teachers should be encouraged to conduct research aimed at helping the industry. The companies, on their part, can provide internship opportunities for the students, where students get a chance to work in the industry. Such an arrangement should become an integral part of the course curricula. Practical examples of work-related project learning and other practice-oriented teaching-learning methods can form integral components of the course curriculum. To cement the bond further, the universities should establish new degree programmes with inputs and greater participation from the industry.

There is an urgent need to establish new programs financed by the multi-year grants from the industry to university research centers in order to promote research in the academia. More technology transfers and commercialization are expected from this effort. These initiatives can be promoted in science-based and information-intensive areas that can further be graduated to the scale-intensive firms.

A concerted effort is needed in the identified areas for innovative ideas, discern technology trend, staff training, technology management, product innovations to showcase results for extensive industry-academia collaboration in higher education. Such an interactive partnership is expected to yield two-fold results — effective utilisation of human resources and catering to the needs of industry.

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Campus Notes
Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar
MoU signed with George Washington University

George Washington University (GWU), USA, and Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in research, training and extension activities in bio-informatics, food technology, biotechnology, nano science and technology and pharmaceutical sciences. 

Vice-Chancellor Dr R. P. Bajpai said the two universities would exchange faculty members, students, technologies, scientific literature, information and methodology, technical know-how and technical services. He said the MoU would strengthen research and academic activities in both the universities. R. S. Jaglan, Registrar, and Prof. George Lauret, Director, GWU, signed the MoU in the presence of Dr Bajpai and Dr Krishan K. Manodha, Neuropharmacologist, GWU. 

The GWU team also visited the departments of bio and nano technology, food technology, environment science and engineering, pharmaceutical sciences and mechanical engineering. The team had detailed discussions with faculty members and explored the possibility of further collaboration.

CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar
Exchange programmes

Chaudhry Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Eurasia-Pacific Uninet for student and scientist exchange programmes and research activities. Eurasia-Pacific Uninet is a network, which aims at establishing contacts and scientific partnerships between Austrian universities, universities of applied sciences and other educational facilities with partner institutions in East, Central, South Asia and the Pacific region.

Registrar Dr R. S. Dalal said the Board of Management of the university had allowed the university to take up collaboration and license agreement for research and development programmes with Advanta India Limited, a Sikandrabad-based firm engaged in sales and marketing of seeds and other breeding material.

He said the Board has also lifted ban of recruitment of research associates in the projects financed by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and other funding agencies.

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Grants for projects

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology, and the University Grants Commission have granted two projects worth Rs 39.9 lakh to Dr Narpinder Singh, a distinguished food scientist and Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology of Guru Nanak Dev University.

The DST has granted Rs 31.69 lakh to work on “Isolation and characterisation of starches and proteins from different legumes” under which the structure-functional relationships of starch and proteins in different legumes would be established. Similarly, the UGC has sanctioned Rs 8.21 lakh to work on “Production, characterisation and modification of gluten proteins from the Indian wheat.

Dr Narpinder Singh said the preliminary research work on legumes starches carried out by the principal investigator group had revealed that the legume starch being rich in amylose was the excellent source of resistance starch. He said the concept of resistance starch had evoked new interest in the bioavailability of starch as a source of dietary fiber, particularly among adults.

— Contributed by Raman Mohan and P. K. Jaiswar

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