AS PANJAB University is gearing up for the Senate elections in September this year, the Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) has been insisting that reforms be introduced in the graduate constituency, which is the largest constituency. Even though the move has been opposed by many members of the Senate, members of PUTA believe the graduate constituency needs to be regularised to avoid making the Senate a “political arena”.
In December, a letter was sent to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) by PUTA president Professor Akshaya Kumar urging the ministry to reconsider the structure of the graduate constituency. “The graduate constituency is the largest constituency in the Senate elections, and during the elections, massive campaigning is done from this constituency across Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. The idea is not to remove the graduate constituency, but just to regularise it as it is such an enormous constituency.”
In the graduate constituency of the PU Senate, elections are held for 15 seats. As per norms, students of Panjab University, who have graduated from the university till 2011, and/or have completed post-graduation from PU till 2015 will be eligible to contest through the graduate constituency of the Senate.
“During the elections, what happens is that there is such massive campaigning done that PU ends up becoming an election commission office, as there are just so many registered graduates involved in the canvassing. What we are suggesting is that there could possibly be some sort of additional criteria introduced like only post-graduate students or only students who have obtained their doctorate degrees from the varsity should be allowed to contest,” Prof Akshaya added.
Another reason why PUTA is insisting that reforms be brought in to the structure of the Senate is because professors of the university feel that the Senate has become a means for political parties to enter into the varsity’s administration. “For many political parties, the Senate elections are synonymous with getting elected, so as to be able to influence the administrative structure of the university. Reforms need to be brought about so as not to make the PU Senate a political arena. The Senate was constituted to work towards the betterment of the university, and its sanctity must not be lost,” a PU professor added.
PU Vice-Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover has, however, clarified that this year, the Senate elections will be held as scheduled, and so far, there was no question of any changes being initiated. “If changes have to be introduced, they will have to be passed in the Senate as per procedure, which can then be incorporated in the Senate elections of 2022,” Grover said.