THE PUNJABI UNIVERSITY, PATIALA
Incredible Voyage to a Largest University
Established on April 30, 1962 in the erstwhile princely state of Patiala with the main objective of furthering the cause of Punjabi language, art and literature, Punjabi University has since evolved into the largest University in the state. Spread over 600 acres of land, its 500 teachers are imparting instruction and guidance to nearly 9,000 students in a multi-faceted, multi-pronged and multi-faculty environment comprising 65 Teaching and Research Departments on its Campus, five Regional Centres, six Neighbourhood Campuses and 166 Colleges affiliated to it.
A mutually-stimulating qualitative and quantitative swing in the direction of overall improvement marks the dynamics and mechanics of Punjabi University. Its multi-dimensional expansion has not only been quick-paced but steady, sustained and seamless, with each front paving way for the other. It didn't come across any cul de sac with unstinted support ever-forthcoming from its committed and resolute faculty. "Unprecedented and unique landmarks", "Innovative and grandiose concepts", "Unimaginable reforms", "Setting new landmarks and records" could easily be attributed as some of the catchphrases describing its unabated progress.
The University has achieved a couple of milestones during its move towards furthering the overall development of Punjabi. Having published a record number of over 3,000 titles in Punjabi covering a wide range of areas and
establishing a special Punjabi Reference Library, it has taken upon itself the responsibility of catering to the linguistic and cultural needs of the overseas Punjabis.
The Punjabi reference Library has been created to build up a strong collection on Punjab history, culture, language and literature. The rich collection of over 1, 00,000 documents, of which around 58,000 have been donated by noted littérateurs and historians, add to the proud privilege of the Punjabi University. It also contains all Punjabi newspapers, magazines, books, diaries and rare manuscripts pertaining to the 19th and 20thcenturies. More than 120 Punjabi newspapers and periodicals published anywhere in the world are available in this Library.
University's main Library, on the other hand, stocks more than 5,00,000 volumes and subscribes to more than 600 journals. It has a 400-capacity majestic Reading Hall for readers to consult various types of source material. The other characteristics features of these libraries constitute Online Public access Catalogue, database of 2, 00,000 documents, internet facility, current awareness and documentation services, indexing services of newspapers, subject bibliographies, inter-library loan facility, computerized bibliographic and documentation and reprographic services. The University also has libraries at its satellite campuses at its Mohali, Dehradun, Malerkotla, Bathinda and Talwandi Sabo. Dr Balbir singh Sahitya Kenda, Dehradun stands out containing valuable collection of manuscripts, rare books, tracts and memoirs.
The establishment of a Centre for Teaching of Punjabi as a Foreign Language (CTPFL) and an Advanced Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture (ACTDPLC) are the foremost instruments aimed at reaching out to the global community. While the CTPFL has already taught Punjabi to over 100 seekers from the USA, Canada, Russia, China and Singapore, the ACTDPLC has chipped in with providing a package for learning Gurmukhi/ Punjabi online, besides creating software for inter-script transfer between Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi. The Centre has now accomplished the unique distinction of launching the first of its kind a search engine in Punjabi.
The University has also started short-term linguistic and culture immersion programmes for the overseas Punjabi Youth for fostering a better understanding of Punjabi culture and heritage through different means. A World Punjabi Centre is also being established on the University Campus to provide a fillip to the multi-dimensional nursing and flourishing of Punjabi as a whole. The University has also created special departments to promote research in Punjabi which include Department of Punjabi Literary Studies, Development of Punjabi Language and Punjabi Lexicography.
Such projects of English translation of Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha Encyclopedia of Punjabi, Punjabi translation of works of Nobel Laureates and starting of Punjabi folk youth festival for the revival and promotion of vanishing Punjabi folk art forms are certain concrete steps taken by Punjabi university to provide a fillip to the overall development of Punjabi. The University added another feather to its cap in the direction of promotion of Punjabi language by launching its website in Punjabi in addition to its existing one, available at www.punjabiuniversity.ac.in. In order to develop a deep-rooted association with outstanding Punjabi scholars, it bestows them with various kinds of fellowship.
The University has scaled new heights in the direction of strengthening and spreading the religious ethos and quintessence, particularly that of Sikhism. Earlier having established a full-fledged Department of Guru Granth Studies and Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, the University has published first of its kind, the Encyclopaedia of Sikhism in four volumes. The Encyclopaedia, inter alia, contains complete details about Sikh history, philosophy, theology, art and architecture, customs, ceremonies and shrines etc. The work having undergone several reprints testifies to the authenticity and catholicity of its contents, its terse style, its impeccable and flawless English idiom, has contributed a lot in fertilizing Sikh learning. The Encyclopaedia has now been put online to widen its horizon among religious scholars around the globe. Keeping the objective of wider deliverance of the divine message of Guru Granth Sahib, the University has now framed a design for the on-line teaching of Guru Granth Sahib in a simple and interactive manner by using multimedia tools and techniques.
Earlier, the University established a separate and specialized Department of Gurmat Sangeet, aimed at propagation and preservation of Gurubani through the exclusive genre of devotional music. It also aimed at providing an academic and scholastic base to this original and unique musical tradition in addition to creating awareness about its transcendental quality across diverse cultures.
In addition to accelerating the pace of meeting its primary obligation to fostering the academic, intellectual and scholastic standards, the University has been making genuine and unstinted efforts for the rural upliftment of society through various means. It all started with the opening up of Yadavindra College of Engineering at Talwandi Sabo in 2004. The University has carried out this formidable task in its own humble way to take the higher education to the doorsteps of ruralites and to address to the concerns of the donors of such vast infrastructure. This has also been done to tackle the problem of considerably low percentage of rural students (0.4%) getting higher education as a consequence of low quality education and utterly poor socio-economic conditions of these ruralites. To award a clear advantage to the rural youth where the Neighborhood Campuses have been launched, the University has made a provision of 50% reservation for the students from the concerned sub-division and the remaining 50% to be admitted from the rest of the rural Punjab.
The starting of six-year integrated course in Engineering at the Yadavindra College of Engineering at Talwandi Sabo is a pioneer step of the University to reach the unreachable and the uncared-for. The students enrolled for this course hail from the poorest sections of the rural population in the most backward region of Punjab. Notably, they do not have to pay their fee for the entire course that comes up to Rs 45,000 per year which has been solicited from generous donors.
Covering 84 acres of land and occupying 3.75 lakh sq. ft. of covered area, the YCoE has already over 1,600 students on its rolls for its various courses which include M.Tech, M.C.A., six-year B.Tech. integrated course and four-year B.Tech. with facilities to follow these courses up to doctorate level. After taking over the Campus, our University has already spent over Rs 25 crore for creating state-of-the art infrastructure which includes seven computer labs, mechanical engineering workshop, up-to-date electronic labs, 2 Mpbs radio-link internet connectivity, boys' and girls' hostels, teachers flats, well-stocked library and playfields and a language lab to improve the communication skills of the rural students.
A recent survey carried out by our Department of Economics has revealed that the combined strength of rural students in the four Universities of Punjab, including the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, is just four per cent. By implication, this means that of the total Rs 165 crore budgetary allocations by the Government for the Universities in the state, the rural students get a share of just about Rs 7.30 crore, while the population of ruralites is more than 66 per cent. We recognized the reality of collapse of school education in rural Punjab and quietly filled the gap by picking up students after tenth class. They do not have to pay their fee of Rs 45,000 per year. This has been done to redeem the deprived rural youth who find themselves haggard and dithered against the pampered passions of metroites and big-town-dwellers and leveling them up in all respects to fight it out in this world of convergence and globalization.
Following these startling revelations, the University took up the cudgels of addressing to the grave concerns of the rural down and outs by opening Neighbourhood Campuses in six remote and virtually written-off villages of Rampura Phul, Jhunir, Karandi, Sardulgarh, Rallah and Delha Sihan existing in the most backward districts of Bathinda, Mansa and Sangrur. The most significant aspect of this magnanimous venture is that the village panchayats of these areas have donated over 300 acres of land costing more than Rs 100 crore.
We have already spent Rs 1.10 crore for the renovation, furnishing and making the latest equipment available to the students to the students of the Neighbourhood Campuses. Responding to the repeated requests from village heads, the University has now planned to start new vocational courses in these Neighborhood Campuses from the forthcoming academic session like M.Sc. (Information Technology),MCA, B.Sc.(Biotechnology), B.Tech.(Electronics and Communication Engineering, and Computer Engineering) and PG Diploma in Computer Maintenance & Networking. These Campuses have already been conducting MBA, BCA, PGDCA and CCA courses since their inception. The Planning Commission of India, following an objective evaluation, sanctioned Rs 10 crore for the development of these Campuses. The University on its part has allocated another Rs 10 crore for raising new buildings and infrastructure to meet the newer demands of the students and faculty vis-à-vis needs and requirements of the evolving world liberalization, privatization and globalization.**
The altruistic campaign of Punjabi University steered towards bridging the widening gaps between rural and the urban, rich and the poor, deprived and the privileged sections of the society is directed towards propagation of human values in general and rural upliftment in particular. Spearheaded by the earnest efforts of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jaspal Singh, foundation stone laid of another Regional Centre was laid by President of the Shiromani akali dal, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal at Jaito recently. With this, the number of such centres has gone up to six. The existing Regional Centres of the University include Guru Kashi Campus, Talwandi Sabo, Guru Kashi Regional Centre, Bathinda, Nawab Sher Mohammed Khan Institute of Advanced Studies, Malerkotla, Regional Centre for Information Technology and Management, Mohali, and Dr Balbir Singh Sahitya Kendra, Dehradun.
The University is thus trying to break away from the conventional ivory tower image through its outreach programmes and is helping the ruralites in every possible manner. The altruistic campaign of Punjabi University steered towards bridging the widening gaps between rural and the urban, rich and the poor, deprived and the privileged sections of the society is directed towards propagation of human values in general and rural upliftment in particular.
To promote technical and professional education on its main Campus, a University College of Engineering (UCoE) was established in 2003 which now has become third best sought-after engineering institute in the region and second in Punjab. Equipped with latest infrastructure, the College runs courses in Computer Engineering, Electronics and Communication Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Significantly, around 95 per cent of its first batch students have been picked up for placements by various multinational companies. Notably, the 10-storey building raised for the college is second highest structure after Punjab Civil Secretariat in Chandigarh. Two other eight-storeyed buildings have also been completed to accommodate the ever-increasing number of girl hostellers.
Some other specialized teaching departments of the University include those of Biotechnology, Space Physics, Forensic Science, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research, Physiotherapy and Sports Sciences. To cater to the
ever-increasing needs and requirements of the media industry in the country, the University has envisaged a plan to create a hi-tech, state-of-the-art Media Centre for its students of Journalism and Mass Communication to comprehensively train them for their quicker absorption in the profession.
The Computer Centre of the University provides internet services to all its departments through LAN. The Centre and the Department of Computer science and Engineering alone have over 150 PCs and Severs. Many departments
including Journalism, Physics, Psychology, Mathematics, PSMS and Economics have their own computers labs.
All the departments are encouraged to promote quality research culture and spirit. Most of the departments are being funded by national and international agencies and have developed tie-ups with industry, having undertaken several consultancy assignments.
The University's Department of Physiotherapy and Sports Sciences has started specialized courses in Sports Physiotherapy, Cardiopulmonary Physiotherapy and Neurological Physiotherapy. With this, the University is destined to earn the rare distinction of becoming the first University in the region to impart instruction in these specializations. The Department is successfully running an Outdoor Patient Department (OPD) in the University's Health Centre to treat the patients and provide clinical training to the students. Guided by the patronage of Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jaspal Singh, it now has established an independent clinic at the local Senior Citizens Welfare Association Centre to provide treatment to the senior citizens suffering from different ailments.
The Health Centre of the University with qualified physicians and paramedical staff remains active 24x7 to cater to the medical needs of the students, teachers and the administrative staff. It has its own AIDS awareness wing aimed at generating awareness about this deadly ailment through various means.
The students of the Punjab School of Management Studies (PSMS) of Punjabi University, Patiala, during the next academic session will get the rare chance of getting a 'joint degree' from Punjabi University and the Wilkes University of Pennsylvania. With this, Punjabi University becomes the first University in this part of the country to achieve this rare honour for its Business Management students.
The Directorates of Youth Welfare and Sports of the University have recorded phenomenal improvement in their respective areas. While the University finished a close second in the National Youth Festival last year, it is almost sure of winning the Overall National Sports Championship this year having cornered overall best positions in the men's and women's categories of events. The Theatre Repertory of our University has created a history of sorts by staging over 165 shows in more than 100 villages, town and cities of Punjab of its two productions, Mitti Rudan Kare and Neon Jarh, based on the scourge of drug abuse and female foeticide. The scripts of the two plays address to the grave concern of the skewed male-female sex ratio and the ever-increasing drug addiction among the rural Punjabi youth.