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Bapu, my teacher!

Many students are motivated to join this department in Panjab University, Chandigarh, to ‘seek answers to problems in life’

education Updated: Sep 28, 2011 10:44 IST
Garima Upadhyay

Mahatma Gandhi has inspired great leaders, towards both Gandhian thought and his way of life. At this department, too, one can find many students eager to get an insight into the life of one of the greatest proponents of non-violence and one of the most charismatic leaders the world has ever seen. “People study Gandhian thought for various reasons. Some come here to understand Gandhi as a person, while others study Gandhian thought in a bid to prepare for the various competitive exams, like the civil services, NET etc,” says Sandeep Singh Panghal, an MPhil student at the department. Ask him what prompted him to take up the subject, and he says, “I had some problems in my life. I am seeking answers to those problems through Gandhi’s way of life and his ‘experiments with truth’.”

Come October 2 and the department will celebrate Gandhi Jayanti in its own special way by undertaking a sanitation and cleaning drive, followed by a seminar, a special lecture, an exhibition, patriotic poetic competition and a painting competition. “This time we are going to organise a special lecture on ‘Gandhi: The Brilliant Student of Life’, which will be delivered by Dr Raj Kumar. We have also invited Professor BS Brar, dean, university instruction, Panjab University, to be the guest of honour. All are invited to the lecture in the morning, following which our students will clean up the area near Gandhi Bhawan,” says professor Manohar Lal Sharma, chairman, department of Gandhian Studies, and director, Gandhi Bhawan, Panjab University.

USP: The Department of Gandhian Studies is one of the few institutes in the country offering postgraduate programmes in Gandhian studies.

Faculty: The college has two professors, two senior assistant professors and five members of the guest faculty. The chairperson of the department, Professor Manohar Lal Sharma, is the recipient of Gandhi-Vinoba Peace Award-2008

Programmes: The college offers a master’s programme in Gandhian and peace studies – a two years’ course (semester based), the entry criteria for which is graduation in any stream with 50% marks. An aptitude test is compulsory. It also offers a MPhil in Gandhian studies – a one-year course that may be extended by another year in special circumstances, duly approved by the Joint Research Board. The entry criterion for this programme is a master’s degree with 55% marks in any art and social sciences subject. The department also offers a PhD programme. Students can enroll if they have a master’s degree in arts or social sciences subjects with 55% marks, and are UGC NET qualified in Gandhian and Peace Studies or if they have cleared the PhD entrance test conducted by the university.

IT quotient: The college website is very comprehensive and presents a good insight into life at the department.

Infrastructure: The department has a library with a special focus on Gandhian studies and the national freedom struggle. Besides good teaching faculty, the department has a library of its own, research guidance and supervision and hostel to some of the students. The department library has 7,000 (approximate) books and more are available in the main university library and with students.

Studentspeak: “My search for truth brought me to this department. After the Anna Hazare movement, all I can urge people to do is to be truthful. If they are true to themselves and others, no weapon is required. Truth shall produce only good. But on the contrary, falsity is ruling everywhere,” adds Panghal.

Clubs and societies: The department has no clubs but has a society that organises a few functions.

Placements: “Gandhian studies will not help you get a plush job instantly. It’s not like any other course where your degree gets you employed. It’s much more, it doesn’t help you be a big man but a good man,” adds Panghal. Even then, some students in the past were and continue to be placed in prominent NGOs, judicial and civil services as well as in the teaching profession in India and abroad. For instance, an alumni, Justice (Dr) Jagdish Singh Khehar, who was the chief justice of Karnataka High Court, has been appointed judge of the Supreme Court of India. Another one, Dr BB Parsoon, sometime back was the additional district and sessions judge in Chandigarh. Parmod Sharma, chief coordinator of Yuvsatta, an NGO, is an international figure.

Factfile
The Department of Gandhian Studies came into existence in 1965. Initially, a one-year certificate course in Gandhian philosophy was all that was on offer. In 1972, it
was replaced by a postgraduate diploma course in the same subject. After getting UGC special assistance, the department also started a postgraduate diploma in Gandhian
studies through correspondence. In 1977-78, the department also started offering an MPhil degree in Gandhian Studies

Wishlist
“With time, Gandhi has been reduced to a ‘figure of speech’. I’d like that to change. I wish people could look beyond and imbibe Gandhian teachings in their life,” says Sandeep Singh Panghal