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Conference on National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill 2010

August 13, 2010, Chandigarh. A day-long Conference to discuss the 'National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill 2010 (NCHER)' was organized by Institute of Sikh Studies on August 13, 2010 at its headquarters in Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Kanthala, Indl Area, Phase 2, Chandigarh.

Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, VC, Guru Granth Sahib University, Dr S P Singh, Ex-VC, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Principal Ram Singh, Chief Organiser, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, Ludhiana, Dr Kirpal Singh, Eminent Sikh Historian, Bibi Baljit Kaur, Core Group of Institute of Sikh Studies, S Pritam Singh, President, Institute of Sikh Studies, Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian on behalf of Chief Khalsa Diwan and many others participated in the discussion.

S. Pritam Singh , President of IOSS while welcoming the eminent educationists urged them to examine the Bill from various perspectives and come out with consensus on the responseto the Bill. He pointed out the attempt on the part of HRD to get the constitution amended before introducing the Bill. There was a Turf War between HRD and Health Ministry. Ultimately PM’s Office to intervene to reject the proposal of HRD for amendment of the constitution. He also apprised the conference about the conclusions arrived at the meetings of the Core group comprising representatives of IOSS, I.S.C and Kendriya Singh Sabha.

The views expressed by the various participants are summarized below:

Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, VC, Guru Granth Sahib University:
Dr Ahluwalia stressed on the problem that Govt of India has given only 14 days for consideration of the Bill. He said that a close view of the National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill, 2010, proposed to be brought before the Parliament, reveals that in the name of "Maintenance of Standards", "Promotion of the higher education and research", and further purporting (deceptively) to "promote the autonomy of higher educational institutions", the proposed enactment, in reality, aims at ensuring the Centre's absolute control over higher education in all respects, that is, centralization of higher education. He explained in detail the relevent sections of the Draft Bill to the learned audience.

Dr S P Singh, Ex-VC of GND University:
Dr Singh expressed that the only aim of this draft is centralization of the powers regarding the Education. Infact, to make laws regarding education is the subject of the State. He said this is a step to destroy the federal structure and autonomy of Universities of the States. He was of the opinion that if the proposed bill is enacted in the present form, it will lead to excessive centralization of power and will result in eroding the autonomy of Universities, particularly the State Govt. The spirit of the Bill is against the federal structure of education as well as of the political system of the country.

Lt Gen Kartar Singh Gill (retd), CEO, ISC:
He said that they had done brainstorming within the Core Group and discussed various details of the proposed Bill. He quoted his experience at DG Military Training at Army Headquarters, his responsibility being for education of the Army and various education institutions of the army. He strongly felt that centralization of education would be a dangerous proposal.

Mr J P Garg:
Mr Garg was of the view that the education in Punjab is in mess, especially the school education. We seem to be prejudiced and only taking note of the negative points of the proposed Bill. Standardization must be carried out, whether at State level or Central level.

Principal Ram Singh, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle:
No system should be completely rejected. We need to have freedom for attaining education. Presently it is all instructions and directions. He felt present education is in a mess. We need to concentrate on primary education.

Others who spoke on the occasion included Bibi Baljit Kaur, Shri S K Angra, a Scientist, S Harbans Singh, Dr Karnail Singh, S Pritam Singh, IAS (retd), Dr Kirpal Singh, Prof Kulwant Singh and Principal Prabhjot Kaur.

Drafter by Col Amrik Singh, Secretary IOSS



Resolution passed by Round Table Conference on National Commission for Higher Education and Research organized by the Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh on 13th August 2010:

The Conference attended by Vc/ Ex-Vcs, eminent educationists and representatives of organizations connected with Education in Punjab examined the Bill from perspectives like Spirit of the Constitution, Federal Structure, Democratic framework; Assimilationist vrs Autonomist Approach; Unity in Diversity, Constitutional and legal rights of Ethnic minorities , Regional and Cultural specificities and Student’s welfare and improvement of Educational Standards.

It resolved that the Bill be opposed on the following grounds:

  1. Mismatch between the stated objectives and the provisions in the Bill;
  2. Not sufficiently rooted in academic imperatives and is mainly management focussed;
  3. National control is not an ideal solution in a politically federal and culturally diverse country like India;
  4. Commission will be an isolated organization without access to public opinion and feelings; Organizationally inadequate;
  5. Imposing VCs in the manner envisaged is highly objectionable, amounting to assault on university autonomy and infringement of State’s rights;
  6. Accredition needs to be participative and not punitive;
  7. The Bill amounts to an assault on the federal structure

    The conference further resolved that:
  • HRD ministry be impressed upon to give atleast six months for wider circulation and eliciting the public opinion and the views of Universities, Institutions of Higher education and of the organizations/NGOs managing them.
  • Impress upon Punjab Govt to move a Resolution in Punjab Assembly Session starting on 24th Sept opposing the Bill;
  • HRD Ministry be requested to refer the Bill to a Joint Parliamentary Committee for their advice;
  • Institute of Sikh Studies should take initiative in setting up a suitable Forum for periodic consultations and coordination on issues relating to Governance of Higher Education
  • The measures needed for improvement of quality of education in Punjab should be separately examined and recommended to authorities concerned.

    Posted by:
    Ishwinder Singh

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