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Big threat to university autonomy

The editorial, “Sphinx-like Chancellor: University autonomy goes for a toss” (June 23) highlights the phenomenon of gradual erosion of autonomy of Punjab’s universities. This is highly disturbing because universities are citadels of higher learning, research and excellence.

Today, a good Vice-Chancellor has to be adept in politics. He/she must have the ability to get along with politicians, especially of the ruling party. Otherwise, he will invite trouble.

Since universities are in the State List, governmental interference cannot be avoided, but the extent of political interference can be checked. The Punjab government cannot tolerate any VC, however eminent he/she may be, appointed by the previous government. VCs are often replaced on flimsy grounds at the politicians’ whim.

As for the VC’s post, it should be reserved for academicians of the highest order and distinction. Merit should be the sole criterion for appointment. The best safeguard would be to have an independent panel in which the senate and the syndicate have greater say. The VC’s tenure should be so fixed and rules so amended that politicians find it beyond their powers to impeach or dislodge the incumbent. It is the government’s onerous duty to ensure the smooth functioning of the university.




When the state government orders an inquiry, it cannot be construed as an attack on the university’s autonomy; the VC should come forward to face the inquiry if he thinks that he has not done anything wrong. The universities are, no doubt, autonomous, but the VCs are not and they cannot be allowed to run the institutions at their whim.

Here, the Chancellor’s unconscionable long silence has done the harm. He could have taken note of Dr Jairup Singh’s misdemeanours much earlier and, after an in-house inquiry, asked him to resign.

Dr Jairup Singh’s argument that he will face inquiry only if he is asked to appear through the Chancellor and that he is answerable to the Chancellor alone, betrays his lack of knowledge of the University Act and of the criminal and constitutional law. First, since the inquiry seems to have been ordered into his acts of corruption, under the latest criminal law, no sanction from the appointing authority is required.

Secondly, if it is to be treated as a general inquiry against him including his acts of corruption, the University Act does not prevent the Punjab government, on whose advice the VC is appointed by the Chancellor, to order such an inquiry.

And finally, since the Chancellor’s post is not an independent entity and the Punjab Governor is the ex-officio Chancellor as per the University Act and the provisions of the Indian Constitution, the Governor-Chancellor has to act upon the state government’s advice.



The editorial was balanced. Frankly speaking, the chief reason why Chancellors don’t take their job seriously is because this is one job which they get by chance. They believe that they are accountable or answerable to none.

Therefore, I for one think that a special post of Chancellor should be established on the pattern of the Lok Ayukta and a person should be selected after due screening, if possible, from a panel of eminent educationists. He/she should be put in charge of all universities in the state.

K.J.S. AHLUWALIA, Amritsar


It is a pity that the malaise of washing of one’s dirty linen in public, which has been the order of the day in Haryana’s universities, has now crept into Punjab. The politicians, most of whom are pitiably uneducated, are appropriating the powers and privileges of the technocrats. It is the duty of every awakened citizen to push back the riff-raff from the academic institutions.

Dr Jairup Singh has “impeccable credentials as a scientist” and is a “stickler for rules”. Still, there should be an open public inquiry into the charges against him. At the same time, as the editorial aptly says, it is for the Chancellor to do the job; the state government has no moral right to meddle in the university affairs.



Sam liked common people

Having born in Amritsar, I used to hear about Gen S.H.F.J. Manekshaw whenever my late father took me to our ancestral shop, M/s Saligram Pannalal in Katra Ahuluwalia, Amritsar. This was adjacent to Dr Sur’s medical shop quoted in The Tribune (June 28). Sam’s doctor-father was a good friend of my great grandfather, Lala Saligram.

In 1963, I joined PU in Hindu College, Amritsar. During the intervals, we used to go to the tea stall. Its owner, Bhaiji, was a strict disciplinarian. Whenever any student tried to read a newspaper there, he would stop him from doing so and would invariably quote how he had “sorted out” the late Field Marshal thus: “If I could set right Field Marshal Manekshaw, how can others not fall in line?”

Once during a flight from Bangalore to Delhi, when I ran over to Field Marshal Manekshaw and introduced myself as an Hindu College alumni, he responded with great warmth and had a chat with me. I reminded him of the Bhaiji episode and we had a big laugh. He conveyed his compliments to Bhaiji.

I appreciate his quality of admiring the most common people. While he was the guest of honour at a function organised by The Tribune, he shook hands with every member of the orchestra.

ASHOK KHANNA, Chandigarh



Relief for riot victims

I have read the editorial, “Relief at last: Speed up trial of Bhagalpur riot cases” (June 14). As Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, I had mooted this proposal to give relief to Bhagalpur riot victims at par with 1984 Sikh victims. I wrote to the Prime Minister that the Bhagalpur communal riots took place 18 years back and nothing was done to help the poor people.

I met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar soon after he took over and on my request he sent immediately a similar request to the Prime Minister. I am happy that the Government of India has announced the desired relief.

My second proposal to have a national policy for providing relief to the victims of communal riots is still pending with the government.




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