Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Guru Ki Kashi: why do residents feel cheated?

AGAINST SPIRIT: Creation of private university in Talwandi Sabo draws flak from various groups.

The state government may be proud that it created Guru Ki Kashi University in the private sector in the town of Takht Shri Damdama Sahib but the natives feel cheated.

Successive governments had sold them the dream of a government university in Talwandi Sabo, a town where the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, had desired to develop a great centre of learning.

Legend has it that Guru Gobind Singh, after recompiling reinstalling Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the year 1705-06 at Talwandi Sabo, had desired strongly to turn the place into a centre of religious education as important as Kashi of the Hindus at that time. The Guru showered a handful of reed pens over the heads of the congregation and said here we would create a pool of literature. “No one of my Sikhs, whether poor or rich, should remain illiterate.“

When the regional centre of Patiala University opened in 1988 to take over from the Guru Ki Kashi School of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), it created a hope that the government would keep it promise of upgrading the school to university. Successive chief ministers such as Beant Singh, Parkash Singh Badal, and capt Amarinder Singh declared to open many educational projects such as Rural University in the town but they all failed to honour their word.

The previous Congress government brought Yadavindra College of Engineering at Talwandi Sabo in the government sector. Deserving students from villages could now get education fee-of-cost through scholarship money coming from the expatriates and the government.
Now the creation of a private university by the government has drawn criticism from all quarters.

“Private University at Talwanti Sabo is contrary to the wishes of not only Guru Gobind Singh but also the people of the town, most of whom are farmers and too poor to afford the charges of private education,“ said Bhai Ranjeet Singh, former jathedar of Akal Takht. “The private university will run like private institutes do. I wonder why the Punjab government is proud of this effort.“

“The government should state clearly what good is a private university for the people of this region,“ said Gurtej Singh Jodhpur, member of the SGPC from Maur Mandi in Bathinda.
“The institution will charge at least R2 lakh for a degree. The university should have come up in the government sector.“

Ranbir Singh Sidhu, a descendant of Bhai Dall Singh, who was the closest confidant of Guru Gobind Singh in Talwandi Sabo, also condemned the creation of a private university. “Any rural university should be in the government sector,“ he said. “Private universities are for the rich.“

“The government instead could have upgraded the institute running in Talwandi Sabo,“ said Jagjeet Singh Sidhu, retired deputy director from the state education department, who belongs to Talwandi Sabo. “The courses and basic education facilities at the old institution are not up to the mark.“

The government decided in the last cabinet meeting the previous week that the Balaji Group of Institutions running Guru Gobind Singh (GGS) Group of Institutes would create the private university in Talwandi Sabo.

Ravinder Vasudeva, Talwindi Sabo (BATHINDA), Hindustan Times, 27th July 2011

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