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The Gandhian way

Panjab University’s Department of Gandhian Studies is furthering the Mahatma’s ideals at a time when they are most needed report Jayanta Kumar Goswami

education Updated: Sep 29, 2010 09:25 IST
Jayanta Kumar Goswami

The Department of Gandhian Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, counts its internationally acclaimed teachers and a friendly atmosphere among its strengths. Most students, be it senior government officers or foreign nationals, are appreciative of the stimulating teacher-student relationship.

Started as a single teacher, single chair and single student institution in 1965, the department now offers MA, M Phil and PhD courses. “We have so far conferred PhDs to around 46 scholars, some of whom are chief justices of various high courts, toppers of various competitive examinations, lawyers, corporate professionals and other senior government officials,” says Dr Manohar Lal Sharma, chairperson, Department of Gandhian Studies, Panjab University.

Kiyanoush Ghalavand, 37, a research scholar from Iran, lauded the department’s efforts to create awareness on ideals of Gandhiji. “I … first heard about Gandhiji when I saw the film Gandhi while I was in school. As a child, I was amazed by the ideals of Gandhiji and always wanted to follow his ethics,” says Ghalavand.

He says that the atmosphere, both in the department and in Chandigarh, is very suitable for foreign students. Kiyanoush is not the only international student in the department. There are around 10 students from countries such as Thailand, South Korea and Iran.

Bhupinder Singh Bedi, a superintendent in the Department of Customs, currently posted at the Attari border, is a student at the department and is about to submit his PhD thesis.
“This department is doing yeoman’s service to the nation. Infrastructure here is quite advanced compared to other departments,” he says.

The placement scenario is also very good. Dr Sharma, who was conferred with the Gandhi-Vinoba Peace Award in 2008, says that a lot of his students have been placed in various national and international NGOs, judicial services, teaching, including assignments in Australia, Canada and in a few African countries. Some have also joined the banking sector.

Sharma says the department is hoping to focus more on topics such as sustainable development, panchayati raj and rural development.

“The department has already completed over 40 PhD theses and brought out a number of books and research papers in journals of repute,” Sharma, who is also a member of the UGC Expert Committee for the Eleventh Plan, adds.

Famous for:
Excellence in academics, faculty members of international repute, teacher-student relationship, social work for the needy and poor, students selected for various fellowships

Programmes:
MA (29 seats, duration: 2 year); MPhil (10 seats, two semesters) and PhD (29 seats, three years)

Extra-curricular:
The department organises extension/special lectures, seminars/conferences and symposiums on a regular basis

Infrastructure:
The department is known for its specialised library on Gandhian studies and the National Freedom Movement. It has dedicated buildings with seminar and lecture halls with hi-tech gadgets. The department has massive resources for students, especially research scholars

Found on campus:
“Faculty and studies are excellent. The teachers are always ready to spare time, even in holidays, for students. They are very helpful and kindhearted towards students. Kudos to them,” says Bedi

Wishlist
“Authorities should lay more emphasis on development of the department. Adequate funds should be allotted to carry out more research work and for creating awareness on Gandhain ideals among the masses,” said an M Phil, second-semester student on condition of anonymity

Factfile
The department came into existence in 1965. Initially, a one year certificate course in Gandhian Philosophy was launched. In 1972, the certificate course was converted into a post-graduate diploma course in Gandhian philosophy. After getting the UGC’s special assistance, the department also started a post-graduate diploma in Gandhian studies offered through correspondence. In 1977-78, the department started offering an M Phil degree in Gandhian studies. The UGC selected the department for special assistance twice for teaching and research in Gandhian studies. The department launched an MA in Gandhian and Peace Studies (a two-year post-graduate course) from the academic session 1984-85 as a regular course. Now, a semester system has been started for the MA course