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Recently Punjab cabinet decided to make changes in Punjab Private University Policy 2010. The purpose was to allow establishment of new private universities with less built area on land lease for 33 years. How did the government arrive at this conclusion that it is the lack of campuses and built area which is obstacle in the growth of higher education in Punjab, is not clear. Punjab has colleges and universities with lands, grounds and buildings with much less footfall. Campuses in Punjab need students, teachers, books and capital. There is no dearth of campuses. There is visible dearth of human resources and capital.

The government must spend some energy in doing building audit of campuses and it will have some idea, how some of its best and oldest campuses have turned into empty nests. This agenda, that government took up with such a seriousness, made us confused. One should smile at the naivety with which the state approaches the priorities of higher education or one should cry at the apathy, the government shows towards ground reality.

What the government is trying to do now in Punjab has happened to a household already. Let us see what happened to the household where head of family thought that buildings more rooms is the first priority and how he ended up building empty nests. The family has father, mother and son. Son asked his father, “Papa get me a text book.”

Father said, “Son, I will get you a text book but where is the roof under which you will read this book? We must build a special study room so that you may read your text book without distraction”. Son was happy at father’s commitment to his education. Father spent all money on building the room. When room was given to son, he reminded father that he had asked for money to buy a text book.

Father was not very amused at this reminder. He said, see son, your grandfather gave me money only for building. I cannot divert fund to buy your text books for you. Go and make your own arrangements for funding your studies. I have built a room and my responsibility to your education is over. Son left home in search of job to fund his studies. He went to Canada. Room remained empty. A couple of pigeons began to build a nest there.

After a few days, son’s mother fell sick and asked her husband to get medicine for her. Husband said,” Only medicine will not work. You need a place where doctor will come and sit and prescribe medicine for you. Let me first build a room for doctor’s visit. The obedient wife began to wait for the day, the building of room was done. Patient was patient but disease was impatient. It worked faster and wife found a better room for herself in the skies above. Husband built the room but found that there was no doctor around, no money left to pay for medicine and there was no need for medicine indeed because the patient was gone. Another room was empty. Another couple of pigeons came and built their nest. They asked how was the owner of house treating them?

“Don’t you see? He is spending all his money for building nests for us”. “Yes, I can see, he is building so many empty nests. He is a great builder of empty nests indeed”.

About the author:
Dr. Amanpreet Singh Gill

Dr. Amanpreet Singh Gill The writer, Dr. Amanpreet Singh Gill teaches Political Science at SGTB Khalsa College, North Campus, Delhi University. He’s also a Convener, of a course committee on social sciences, in Central board of secondary education (CBSE). Apart from short stories, he writes on Punjab politics and Sikh history. He has authored six books in Punjabi and English. Non-Congress Politics in Punjab (2015), 1708 Dasam Guru di Dakhan Feri (2017) and Kes History of Sikhs and other Essays (2020) are some of his better known works. He can be reached at:[email protected] He can be reached at: [email protected]

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