Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) may take us back to those golden days when no automobiles were invented and the bicycle was everyone's ride of pride. The university's vice-chancellor, BS Dhillon, recently circulated the use of bicycles and/or coming on foot to the university starting 2015.
According to the circular details issued by director students welfare Ravinder Kaur Dhaliwal, the rule applies to mainly the first Thursday of every month.
Dhillon shared that the decision was like PAU's new year resolution and aimed to support the environment. "It is a resolution for a cause for which I hope to receive good response. I understand that it may be arduous to accept this decision by professors and students who stay faraway from the university but at least several professors and students staying in the campus itself should use bicycles or come on foot. After all, it is only once a month and is more like sharing a social responsibility towards the environment and will keep everyone fit as well."
"Look at Netherlands, the nation of bicycles. There are about 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands, more than its inhabitants. These bicycles can be used on more than 35,000 kilometers of bicycle paths. That is the core reason; the environment there is so clean and contrary to ours in India," he added.
Although some employees have termed it as a whimsical decision but several students have applauded the iniative as well. GS Buttar, department head of agronomy, said, "I reside in the campus itself and I often walk to my office and many of my colleagues and I feel if we all follow this tradition, we'll e able to set an example to others as well. In fact, it is the need of the hour as we are facing a big threat from global warming. Every little effort counts," he added. Sarabjeet Singh, head of agricultural journalism department said, "Many of the professors are very excited to come on bicycles and some of them have also bought brand new bicycles in this regard."
Director professor Prakash Gopalan of Thapar University, Patiala, added, "Students are allowed to keep only bicycles on campus for the past ten years and it good to note that other universities are also trying to take the same path."
Authorities of other universities have hailed the decision as well. "It reminds me of my visits to University of California (Davis Campus) where students, professors and deans use bicycles daily to commute from one part of the campus to other. The university had even been awarded "Bicycle friendly business" award from the league of American Bicyclists, USA," stated Sardara Singh Johal, chancellor, Central University, Bathinda.
Professor Ajaib Singh Brar, vice-chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar said, "There are many institutions in this country where students are allowed to keep bicycles including IIT Delhi, where I was once a professor. I have banned bullet bikes at GNDU for the past two years as they cause lot of noise pollution and in the coming months, we may also follow PAU's decision. Let's see the response for the first two months for starters."
"All universities and colleges must make it a compulsion to use bicycles as it can protect our environment. On one hand we are blindly moving towards modernisation and on the other we are exploiting nature", said Sant Baba Seechewal who cleansed the holy rivulet Kali Bein at Sultanpur Lodhi and has also been honoured by UNO and various other international organisations for his nature friendly approach. Sant Baba Sewa Singh from Khadur Sahib who has planted thousands of trees across the country echoed a similar view.