Himachal Pradesh The ‘funeral procession’ by the activists of the Students Federation of India (SFI) over certain major demands on Himachal Pradesh University campus in Shimla last week was not in good taste. The mere title of the protest and the enactment, wherein students slept on the road, to show extreme resentment against the varsity authorities towards their chain hunger strike over some demands, which has crossed100 days, portrayed the state varsity in bad light.
Many may criticise the students for creating such an image of an old and prestigious institution of the state…But the reality is that the HPU is witness to the degrading standards each day, whether it is about the academic achievement or the environment, for which the authorities are equally responsible.
May be more responsible than the students. Probably, the University authorities, particularly the Vice Chancellor, who takes pride in checking the ‘unnecessary student politics’ by banning student polls in HPU and its affiliated colleges in Himachal, have failed to set the house in order administratively and academically in the University.
So much that the whole academic decorum has gone to the winds in HPU. The varsity says no to student politics, but allows politics by teachers and political interference to the full, whether it is about appointments, promotions or admissions in PhD. Unlike two other state varsities in Himachal ( the Agriculture University, Palampur and Horticulture and Forestry University, Solan), the HPU is always in the thick of controversy over advertising and re-advertising the vacant posts of teachers and then filling most of them as per convenience of the political bosses of the day.
The results of such a functioning are like this: The Congress party, which, while in opposition previously, used to target present Vice Chancellor of the HPU for various alleged irregularities and even threatened to order inquiry into appointments done in the previous BJP regime by him, gave extension of three years to the same person for reasons known. In the event of such a politicking on the campus on appointments, the quality of teaching in many departments is a foregone conclusion and the University has actually seen its downfall over the last some years.
The HPU took the lead in implementing the Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) to get some additional funds (over Rs 160 Crore) from the Centre, which ultimately it did not get in the full for half-baked effort. While many prestigious Universities in the region and the country are still not following this pattern, the HPU’s undue haste to adopt it three years ago has left the students from Himachal high and dry because of the mismatch in syllabi and subjects.
Many students were turned down admission in varsities like PU (Panjab University) and DU (Delhi University) in post graduation courses for this very constraint. Those who are studying in the state colleges under RUSA pattern are sufferers internally also for the HPU could not compile their results and streamline examinations on scheduled time for lack of staff, system and the will to perform in reality.
The fees for various courses was increased manifold by HPU a couple of years ago. It may sound justified keeping with the need of resource mobilisation. But wasn’t it the need of the hour to update infrastructure in the University? The basic infrastructure in the varsity, particularly the science labs in the varsity, are still not updated to keep pace with the growing needs of research.
Some departments are running in the same dilapidated rooms as it used to be 20 years back. The toilets on the campus are in bad shape. The hostels have increased in numbers, but the facilities are not updated.
Even today, the hostellers in the HPU have to protest for basic amenities like water by sitting outside VC’s office with buckets in hand. All these gaps are being continuously highlighted by the students in the HPU, above political affiliations. But the authorities are not bothered.Who will bring HPU back on rails? It is a million dollar question. HIMACHAL diary
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