The art of becoming a senator
Like Olympics and world cups, the senate elections to Panjab University also come once in four years. It is an event to be witnessed, noticed and observed as it has all ingredients of any major event which includes meeting, wining, dining, gifting et al.Updated: Sep 05, 2012 15:26 IST
Like Olympics and world cups, the senate elections to Panjab University also come once in four years. It is an event to be witnessed, noticed and observed as it has all ingredients of any major event which includes meeting, wining, dining, gifting et al.
The prospective candidates start wooing voters almost a year to six months in advance. To achieve their target, most of them start showing their hidden acumen in one or the other additional professions. One can find among them astrologers, estate agents, caterers, messengers, counselors, good Samaritans…
Candidates are of all kinds and age groups. There are some who are professional senators who will probably end up in some psychiatric asylum if they cease to be one. Such people give the impression that to be a member of the senate is their utmost purpose in life. While candidates at the fag end of their career ask for a last chance to serve the university (one wonders why they waited so long to serve), the young ones claim that they are here to prove their worth and in case they fail, the voters have ample time to take them to task.
The most interesting thing is that hardly anybody has any clear cut or original agenda and most of them do not even know why they want to get into the senate. If you ask them, except for repeating the same adage "we want to serve the university", they have nothing practical or concrete to offer.
For instance, when I thought of getting into the senate, I had a purpose, a couple of issues to be resolved. Revamping the examination/ evaluation system was my first and foremost priority in the agenda apart from some urgent research and developmental issues. For this purpose, I gave written and verbal suggestions to the senate, but it did make any good impact or improvement.
During my tenure, I also noticed that while some senators were mere spectators others made sure that they speak on all issues even if they have nothing constructive to share. In one of the meetings, I remember listening to 33 people speaking the same thing on the same issue and I thought I would have a nervous break-down...Unless the voters become conscious of the role and dignity of the highest body in the university, and elect or nominate selfless, honest, committed and well meaning visionaries and missionaries, the whole exercise, term after term, will remain a huge farce.
I personally feel PU senate needs to be revamped. The profiles of senators should be made available on the university website and provision should be made for APR (annual performance report), so that the public may keep a track record and also judge the gap between words and actions.
If PU aspires to be a world-class university, its faculty needs to work at five levels simultaneously. They are teaching and related works (paper setting, evaluation); personal research, publications, paper presentations; guiding research and publications; organising/ attending seminars/ conferences; and working for the infrastructure development of the department/university.
The senators should be role models in achieving high goals set for the institute rather than spending valuable time in trying to help outright culprits, wrong doers to get away with their mistakes and crimes under the garb of serving society. Selfless persons with high integrity and vision should be in the highest governing body of any institution if it is to progress.
(The writer is professor and former senator at Panjab University, Chandigarh)