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PUNJABI UNIVERSITY: THE CRISIS AND GLORY
ALL YOUTH HAS NOT LEFT PUNJAB
Farmer protests in Punjab have busted a myth. In recent times, a myth was generated in public discourses that all youth of Punjab have gone abroad. Or they are not interested in making Punjab, a place of their future education and employment. But the presence of very large number of youth among protesters indicates that they are very much stakeholders in the future of Punjab.
If this is the case, then Punjab government should start taking the higher education interests of Punjabi youth seriously. These should not be left at the mercy of market. Very large number of private universities and self financed professional courses had sold such dreams to Punjabi youth at very high cost with negligible returns.
TECH GRADUATES AS PATWARIS, CONSTABLES
When B. Tech graduates join government job as Patwaris and police constables, the claims that professional courses have guaranteed placements job market, are easily busted.
The post liberalization discourse that a degree in Bachelor of Arts has no value, has done great damage to Punjab higher education, especially in rural sector.
Currently, Punjab has one of lowest number of graduates in rural areas in North Indian states like Jammu and Kashmir, Uttrakhand, Himachal and Haryana.
ONLY THREE AFFILIATING COLLEGES IN PUNJAB
Punjab has only three affiliating universities for general degree classes and colleges. First was Panjab University which came from Lahore and became the only university of East Punjab to give affiliation to colleges from Asmritar to Gurugram and Shimla.
Then in 1962, Punjabi University was established at Patiala. In fact ,it was the first university of independent Punjab for general degree education. Initially it was made as campus university but Dr.MS Gill , then a young IAS, played his good offices to convert it in to affiliating university.
The university becoming an affiliating university opened up the immense potential for bringing college education at the door steps of rural students. This university made immense contribution in providing higher education of sciences, humanities and social sciences to a large number of boys and girls of rural Malwa, which was not otherwise possible. Its Department of Distance Education played even greater role in education empowerment of housewives and working employees for improving the prospectus of their careers.
The greatest contribution of the university lies in Punjabi publications. Its publication bureau was established by Principal Teja Singh, eminent scholar of Sikhism and Punjabi literature. The bureau has published 5400 title in Punjabi. These include translations of world class texts in Punjabi. University has produced such encyclopedias and dictionaries which have enriched the knowledge tradition immensely. It has been a very successful university in terms of knowledge production at campus and teaching at campus and colleges.
It is the only university in world where scientific texts are produced and propagated in Punjabi in Gurmukhi script. Teaching world knowledge tradition in people’s mother tongue is great step towards human resource development. This is what Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Martin Luther preached in 15th century. Print empowers and print in people’s language empowers immensely. The growth of enlightenment tradition in Europe was based on the growth of vernacular print. While every education institution in Punjab is obsessed with the dumb idea of smart learning, Punjabi University is the only institution still dedicated to producing quality texts in Punjabi for students of colleges.
CRISIS BEGAN WHEN UNIVERSITY VENTURED INTO GIVING ENGINEERING EDUCATION
The crisis at university started when it ventured in to providing engineering education to rural students, which was an idea with noble intention. When its engineering colleges began to make losses, their budget was merged with the campus. After this, university began to figure in media as a case for financial mismanagement. Mismanagement may have been a very negligible factor, but media began to project the university as failed case. It achievements in sports, education, culture, language, and literature never figured in media. Media never told the public that current chief of Indian Army, General MM Naravane is a Ph.D candidate in Defense and Strategic Studies in this university. If a university serves the educational interests of a student from rural marginal background and at the same time, that of army chief , how this university is failed case?
Times of India was only exception for positively covering series of Policy Papers on impact of Covid-19 on Punjab Economy prepared at Centre for Development Economics and Innovation Studies.
The future stability of this university is a guarantee for educational growth and stability of nine districts of Malwa region of Punjab. Punjab policy makers are most welcome, if they continue their love affair with Indian School of Business, Mohali and Ashoka University , but they must not ignore the role of Punjabi University, which has shaped the lives and livelihood of generations of people in Punjab.