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Monday, Sep 26, 2022

Won’t change character of state universities, Centre assures Parliament

MoS Education Subhas Sarkar informed the Upper House that the Centre has decided to not convert state universities into central universities due to legacy issues, adjustment of existing staff and disaffiliation of colleges

Punjab University, Punjab Vidhan SabhaPunjab Cabinet minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer tweeted about the question raised by AAP MP. He said the minister had to reply that(File Photo)

The Minister of State (MoS) for Education Subhas Sarkar assured the Parliament on Wednesday that his ministry has taken a policy decision not to convert state universities into central universities.

His assurance came in response to a question, asked by AAP Rajya Sabha MP Vikramjit Singh Sahney during the ongoing session of Parliament on whether the government was planning to change the status of Panjab University, Chandigarh, to a central university. To this, Sarkar said that the ministry has decided to not change the status of state universities.

The MoS added that the decision was taken due to legacy issues, adjustment of existing staff and disaffiliation of colleges.

This reply has put to rest the fears of the state that PU was being converted to a Central university. The Punjab government as well as the opposition parties had objected to the move. A resolution was also passed by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha earlier against the proposed move by Centre to change the status of the university.

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Punjab Cabinet minister Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer tweeted about the question raised by AAP MP. He said the minister had to reply that there was no centralisation of the university.

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Earlier, during the Budget Session of Vidhan Sabha, a resolution was passed jointly by ruling party and the Opposition, including Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal, against centralisation of the university. BJP members had opposed the resolution stating that there was no such move.

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The resolution read, “This House is concerned about the attempt being made by some vested interests to push the matter for change of status of Panjab University into a Central University on one pretext or the other.”

The House acknowledges and recognises that Panjab University was re-commenced with an Act of the Punjab State namely the Panjab University Act 1947 after Independence, and subsequently with the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, it was declared as an Inter-State Body Corporate under Section 72(1) of the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966 enacted by the Parliament. Since its inception, the Panjab University has been continuously and uninterruptedly functioning in the state of Punjab. It was shifted from Lahore, the then capital of Punjab, to Hoshiarpur and then to Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab. More than 175 colleges of Punjab, which are situated in the districts of Fazilka, Ferozpur, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Moga, Muktsar and Nawanshahar, are affiliated with the Panjab University at present. The entire territorial jurisdiction and the populace, which the Panjab University is catering to, falls majorly in the state of Punjab, in addition to the area under Union Territory of Chandigarh, which despite many resolutions of this august house has not been restored as the capital of Punjab state only and continues to be a Union Territory.”

It further read, “Historically, the people of Punjab have been very intimately associated and have identified themselves with this university right from its inception. The Panjab University occupies an emotional place in the minds of Punjabis on account of historical, regional and cultural reasons. The university has emerged as an educational and cultural symbol of Punjab’s legacy and inheritance to the extent that it has almost become synonymous with Punjab.”

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Despite the fact that Haryana and Himachal stopped contributing their share of the maintenance deficit grants to the university, Punjab has increased its share from 20 percent to 40 percent and has continuously been paying it since 1976. Haryana unilaterally withdrew the affiliation of its colleges from the university and transferred the same to the other universities within Haryana, which has reduced the revenue of the university. The Government of India vide its notification dated 27-10-1997 ceased the representation of Haryana in various governing bodies of the university.

This House has observed that the university has been managing and conducting its financial affairs unilaterally. Punjab has, however, increased the Grant-in-Aid from Rs 20 crores to Rs 45.30 crores during the financial year 2020-21, which amounts to an increase of more than 75 per cent. Besides, nearly Rs 100 crore is collected annually by the university from the affiliated Colleges located in Punjab. This substantial increase may not be commensurate with the needs of the Panjab University, but this is due to the reason that there is no bilateral consultative process in place.”

This House strongly and unanimously feels that any decision to change the character of the Panjab University won’t be acceptable to the people of Punjab and therefore, strongly recommends that no change in the nature and character of this University should be considered by the Government of India. Any proposal in case it is being considered should be dropped with immediate effect.

Therefore, this House strongly recommends the state government to take up the matter with the Centre so that the the nature and character of Panjab University is not altered in any way keeping in view the sentiments of the people of Punjab.

First published on: 04-08-2022 at 03:17:25 am
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