Haryana is not a laggard state. It is vibrant. Life is much better here than what is in various other states. Roads are good. Schools are everywhere. There is no dearth of health centres too. It is a different matter that many of them may not have an adequate number of teachers and doctors. Haryana is also dotted with several universities. It is said that most of these were either visualised or opened when Chaudhary Bansi Lal was the chief minister of the state. Many say that he was a doer and a visionary in his own style. It, however, does not mean that his predecessors and successors haven’t contributed to the state’s development at all.
In fact, every chief minister has his share in a state’s failures and achievements. However, Haryana so far does not have a centre of excellence either in the field of education, public administration or a think-tank, helping the state government proactively in formulating policies or vision documents for the state’s overall development. It has been observed that as and when the state government needs such documents, the needful is done by bureaucrats, who are well-informed and well-read, but their pursuits do not go beyond ‘copying or pasting or re-writing’ things adopted from different sources, which is otherwise a prerogative of ‘authors or academicians’ who love to adopt short-cuts to prepare papers to be presented in seminars or workshops. It is a trend which may not be generalised, but no one will deny the pace with which the rot is spreading in the country.
Recently when I had a meeting with a senior government functionary of Haryana government I raised the need for having a fine-tuned, professionally run think-tank in the state which is engaged in coming out with quality reports, studies and research papers apart from imparting training to the budding bureaucrats. He referred to the Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA), but bemoaned how merit has been compromised over the years to ruin what would have been a great institution in the state by now. “Instead of becoming a reference point, HIPA has been allowed to undergo systemic degeneration over the years. It is an institution which needs to be run in a far better manner, where meritorious activities are promoted. Unfortunately, the HIPA has lost the pace of and has become a kind of white elephant.
In the absence of quality man power, no institution can compete with time and carve a niche for itself nationally,” he went on to say. I do not know what exactly he meant, but could easily make out that merit is a casualty in running an institution like HIPA, which is left at the disposal of a retired bureaucrat. There is no harm in doing that so long as the stated objectives of the institution are served, but for the long term benefits, a full-fledged, regular head is needed. Ad-hocism is very dangerous opium which eats into the vitals of an institution slowly, but surely. Unfortunately, HIPA is not the only institution which is paying the price for mediocrity in the state. Even the state universities have not been allowed to get out of the morass of favouritism and nepotism.
For years, most of universities in the state have been headed by non-academicians. It is a serious issue which needs to be deliberated upon by all stakeholders. It has largely been accepted that vice chancellors or head of academic institutions should be hard-core academicians and not those who just meet the criteria to become a vice chancellor or a director. Even some of the Central universities in India-prominent among them being the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh-have been headed by non-academicians, who are considered to be not so tough to cope with the pulls and pressures of running such institutions. It is a myth which has been abused by the political class to prop up their own men at the helm of affairs of varsities, knowing full well that an overdose of politics in making appointments to key positions proves lethal for the institutions.
A university or an institution is not the place where one needs to show his administrative acumen, but his vision to take the teaching standards to new of heights of quality and variety. Administrative works are taken care of by the registrars or an official from administrative services, not by the vice chancellors. The new regime under the leadership of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar seems to be keen to change the functioning of universities in the state, but there is no indication if Khattar’s team is creating the background for building future centres of excellence in the real sense of the term.
Institutions like HIPA need better treatment with all transparency and seriousness, since these organisations are tasked with creating better bureaucrats by making them undergo quality training and intellectual exposure, which is not possible if meritorious administration and interventions are missing in managing affairs on the campus. Seminar and workshops do not serve the ultimate purpose of imparting quality training to future administrators. These are just one tool and other tools can only be developed through research, debate and discussion, for which merit is required. And merit is not the monopoly any caste, colour or creed. It is a matter of perseverance, indeed!
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