In Uttarakhand education dept, nationalism a priority, so is delivering results
Dhan Singh Rawat ordered mandatory recital of national song and national anthem in all colleges. The minister also made sure that the crumbling higher education infrastructure was given a faceliftdehradun Updated: Mar 13, 2018 22:12 IST
If there’s one thing that Dhan Singh Rawat never failed at, it was being in the headlines with unfailing regularity. Probably the youngest in the Trivendra Singh Rawat, the higher education minister is known for making ‘nationalist’ statements — something that earned him flak from several quarters. He also made dress code mandatory for teachers and students in degree colleges and wanted compulsory singing of National Song and National Anthem in the educational institutes, the proposals again inviting severe criticism.
But identifying Dhan Singh on the basis of some statements and few ‘bad decisions’ would be wrong. Even his detractors would grudgingly agree that as a minister he has taken several steps to strengthen the infrastructure in the education sector that have showed positive results. His no-nonsense approach to put the education department, ailing like most others in the state, back on track has earned him praise too.
He started with a bang. Just over a month after taking charge, Dhan Singh announced that digital attendance would be made compulsory in all colleges to ensure presence of teachers.
Students, however, pointed out several loopholes in the system saying that merely punching in your attendance twice daily to register incoming and outgoing time won’t stop teachers from giving classes a miss during the day. They, in fact, suggested that biometric machines should be installed outside every classroom so that there’s a record that teachers took classes.
- Thumbs Up
- Wall of Valour
- Land and building for degree colleges
- Face recognition attendance system for principals along with biometric for teachers
- ADB funds for strengthening infrastructure in colleges
- Desi convocation uniform
- Thumbs down
- Dress code for students
- Dress code for teachers
- Strengthening infrastructure for building, basic amenities of labs, furniture and others
The minister, had, however, remained stuck to his decision saying his ‘first priority’ was to ensure biometric attendance system in all the colleges. “Ensuring attendance of students also needs focus and we will work on those lines,” he had asserted then.
Dhan Singh wears nationalism on his sleeves and is never shy of flaunting it. His one-liner — “If you want to live in Uttarakhand, you must sing Vande Mataram” — created a buzz that resonated across the country making sure that the mountain state remained in the headlines for days. If that wasn’t enough, the minister went on to claim that that “I don’t think anyone in Uttarakhand has any problem with it. It’s not right to link it with religion.”
To “instil a feeling of nationalism among students”, the minister directed for regular unfurling of the national flag on a 100-foot-high pole in all the institutions of higher learning in the state. Out of 100 colleges, 80 have installed the poles.
Dhan Singh also made recital of the National Song and National Anthem mandatory.
He also made sure that initiative launched by Centre — the ‘Wall of Valour’ — was implemented in every degree college. Under the initiative colleges were told to will build a wall measuring 15 feet by 20 feet on which were painted the images of the 21 soldiers awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest military decoration.
He personally inaugurated the Wall of valour at each college. His objective: “The young should not forget the contribution of the men who dedicated their lives for the country”.
Like it happened with school education minister Arvind Pandey, the move to impose a mandatory dress code on lecturers and college students also boomeranged in the higher education department. Worse, the ruling BJP’s student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), was first to reject the decision.
To ease things, the minister started meeting the student union leaders and also taking their views into consideration. But, despite several attempts, the students refused to agree to it.
“The issue with the dress code is that not all students can afford it. Instead of providing the students in college better infrastructure and free books, we are putting on them the burden of the dress code. That’s not acceptable,” says Ramakant Srivastava, ABVP state president.
Savita Mohan, joint director, higher education, however, says that “all government degree colleges have adopted the dress code. It is only the aided colleges that are not ready to accept the dirictive.”
Desi Convocation uniform
One of the significant decisions of Rawat was to shun the traditional ‘videshi’ convocation gown and caps and adopt an attire that reflects the heritage of Uttarakhand. The convocation dress now includes a traditional Pahari cap with pichora (women dress), and jacket with an imprint of state’s bird Himalayan Monal.
Soon after taking charge, the minister had promised to change the face of higher education. Here’s how he tried to do it.
Of 30 new degree colleges that were established in last three years, the minister provided land to 15. Work to get land for remaining colleges is in progress. The department has estimated that Rs 500 crore is needed to strengthen infrastructure and facilities in the degree colleges. For this, Rawat has roped in the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
In addition, delays in Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) were also rectified. The promotions of principals were done in time following which 92 college now have principals. The other eight posts are vacant following retirement of incumbent principals. The minister has promised to fill them soon.
Of 2,100 posts of professors, 500 are vacant. The minister has facilitated engagement of 870 teachers of which 370 will be on contractual basis to ensure availability of teachers in the absence of regular lecturers.