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PU convocation turns sour: Parents protest after denied entry to event

The 58th Annual Convocation at Panjab University was marred by protests from families of graduating students who were unceremoniously denied entry to the campus on Sunday.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh |
March 30, 2009 1:48:00 am

The 58th Annual Convocation at Panjab University was marred by protests from families of graduating students who were unceremoniously denied entry to the campus on Sunday.

Blaming the university authorities for mismanaging the event,hordes of parents also raised slogans against PU Vice-Chancellor Prof R C Sobti outside the Gymnasium Hall even as officials tried to pacify them in vain. Participants,including mediapersons,were not even allowed to leave the venue by security officers manning the exits.

Family members alleged that while they were not issued prior passes by the university,there were no counters or helpdesks set up at the venue to hand out passes either. Some parents who were issued passes for Gate No 2 were redirected by security guards to Gate No 3,where they were denied entry yet again by the officers on duty. The family members,who alleged the officials also misbehaved with them,were thus left with little option but to wait outside the venue.

“I came all the way from Delhi to be with my wife when she receives her degree. While we were told earlier that passes will be issued at the spot,I have been running from one gate to another for passes,but no one seems to know anything,” said Dr

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Kamal. “University authorities had earlier said every student is allowed to bring one guest at the ceremony. But I was not allowed entry to the hall after they labelled my pass as ‘invalid’. It is shameful that parents are being made to wait outside even as their wards get their degrees,” rued Sukhdev Singh,a parent.

Gate No 2 of the campus witnessed chaos as parents banged on the gates to disrupt the function. Voices of angry parents could be heard inside the convocation hall as well. “The University should manage things properly when they hold functions at such a large scale. While inside they honour their students,their own officers misbehave with students’ parents outside,” said Charanjeet Kaur,a mother.

While Prof R C Sobti was not available for comments,clarifying the university’s stand,Dr Naval Kishore,Dean,Students’ Welfare said,“We had put in the optimum effort possible to make the function a success. Passes were also issued to most students. Family members protested as we could not allow entry for more than one family member per student.”

No lesson learnt: With an encore of last year’s ruckus at the convocation ceremony,PU authorities seem to have failed to learn a lesson. Last year,when Vice-President Hamid Ansari was the chief guest,chaos had prevailed due to the very same reasons. Officials,however,maintain that this happens due to security reasons.

Apart from crowd mismanagement,there were no provisions like fire exits or fire extinguishers for emergencies at the Gymnasium Hall. To top that,most doors of the venue were bolted from inside. One of the main doors was also locked from inside,making emergency exit for the around 700-strong audience an impossibility.

University and security officials also forced students as well as mediapersons to sit through the entire event. Officials allegedly even denied a pregnant woman the permission to exit during chief guest Professor Sukhdeo Thorat’s address that lasted for more than an hour. It was only after a few mediapersons intervened that she was allowed to go out.

Unclean washrooms,no arrangement for drinking water added to the shoddy arrangement by the university.

Third doctorate awarded to Dr Bhatti
Former Principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture Dr S S Bhatti was awarded his third PhD during the annual convocation at Panjab University on Sunday. He has revealed new dimensions of the Golden Temple in his doctoral thesis titled: ‘Sri Harmandar Sahib: A Study of Architecture,Engineering,and Aesthetics’. Bhatti stated that the Golden Temple is a marvel of Sikh architecture which exists as an independent historical style,just as Hindu,Buddhist,Islamic,and Christian styles do. Bhatti’s first thesis on Le Corbusier’s Modern Urbanism as developed in the ‘Great Chandigarh Experiment’ in 1991 won him the Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects national award for Excellence in Architecture (Research category). His second thesis on Guru Nanak’s Creative Mysticism as revealed in the Sikh faith founder’s Bani Japuji Sahib was honoured by the Guru Harkrishan Educational Society as the best research done at the Department of Guru Nanak Sikh Studies in 2000.

Girls outclass boys at convocation
The 58th Annual Convocation of the Panjab University was held at the Gymnasium Hall on Sunday. Of the 493 students who received their degrees,350 were girls. They also dominated the medal tally,bagging 149 of the 185 medals. As many as 678 students received their degrees,medal and prizes at the convocation that saw Prof Sukhadeo Thorat,Chairman,University Grants Commission,as the chief guest. Dr N K Ganguly,Adviser to Union Minister for Health,gave the convocation address. “Science without humanities does not mean much. It is necessary that science is seen embedded within community needs,” said Ganguly. In his presidential address,Prof Thorat held that the focus of all plan and policies should be such that more girls are able to reap the benefits of higher education. “The 11th Plan has developed an approach and strategy to address the issues facing the Indian Higher Education System. It is necessary that State governments also take similar initiatives and develop policies to introduce various academic reforms,” said Thorat.

76-year-old Sadhu Ram was the oldest student at the function and received a Masters degree in English. Talking to Newsline,Ram said: “I am elated and plan to pursue a PhD now.” He received a standing ovation from the audience with V-C Sobti stating that “learning has no age-bar.”

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