TODAY -

Peace Must Rule In The Academy
Existence of Engineering Cells seems to be maligning the academic temperament of teaching institutions

Seram Neken *

Centenary Hall at Manipur University (MU), Canchipur
Centenary Hall at Manipur University (MU), Canchipur :: Pix - Bunti Phurailatpam



Instead of holding pens in hand, a number of simple-minded people in teaching profession are now compelled to be armed with personal guns for self-protection. The power to grant huge contract works obviously makes them feel unrest and deviated from academic attention. Manipur is such a place where nothing is impossible for money and with money. Institutions like the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Manipur University, State Education Department, the colleges and schools have almost lost their academic character probably due to the existence of engineering cells in them. In order to bring more academic output, it is time to keep academic management far from engineering works.

Due to undue pressures from various individuals or groups, many academicians of the state have to wear the security blanket. It is uncomfortable to see our academic heads going about with security cover. It creates an environment which is not safe and conducive for teaching and learning process. When academic institutions are invaded by hordes of unwanted contractors and suppliers, the image of the institution is also automatically maligned.

Notwithstanding the real requirements of the institutions, some vested contractors allegedly put pressure on authorities to develop projects for the institutions in their own interests. Many people begin to perceive academic houses as profitable establishments.

Manipur University has changed a lot. Since being a Central University, a lot of progress has been witnessed in the university right from infrastructure development to widening scope of studies. Physically, the university has made tremendous progress.

The only worry is that the degree of concentration in academic activities has apparently diminished among the higher authorities of the institution due to hectic engagement in non-academic works. Most academicians right from the highest office to the Heads of various disciplines have probably lost their academic character, swayed away by contract and supply works.

In most Indian universities like the Jawaharlal Nehru University, construction works are usually entrusted to qualified agencies by depositing money to them while the university engineering cells remain as a mere cell for maintenance of the infrastructure and facilities. However, in Manipur, the university engineering cell acts as a work agency which awards construction works to contractors. The existence of an active engineering cell in the university has apparently turned the temple of learning into an office of work agency.

Same thing happens in Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), where a number of medical professionals are made to pay attention to engineering works, rather than to their professions. The life saving institution has become a den of contractors who are vying for supplies and construction works.

Bomb threats, grenade hurling etc. have been heard in the RIMS campus, as an outcome of the infrastructure development projects. In RIMS, most medical practitioners hardly concentrate on academic research and teaching activities, as they often receive undue pressures from unwanted elements.

Management of the coveted institution has become a tough subject, which the doctors are to learn newly and adapt accordingly. A couple of doctors are compelled to arm themselves with personal guns to face the unwanted elements who visit the hospital for reaping contracts and supplies, and not for seeking health services. The scenario is not conducive for the medical students as well as the patients and their parties who come to seek treatment and consultation from the doctors who can not freely concentrate on duties.

Even in the state education department, those officers supposed to handle academic activities seem to take both the due and the undue interest in constructions with the frenzied works of its engineering cell. Everywhere, college and school heads under state education department have not been free to devote themselves academically. There have been instances where enthusiastic contractors pressurize the heads of educational institutions to propose constructions which are not really necessary to the institutions.

Peaceful minds of the principals or head masters are often disturbed by such compulsions. Officials of education department too are being engaged most of the time in physical development of institutions. Academic management and infrastructure development need to be placed apart from each other so that one does not disturb the other. These two traits can not remain in one hand particularly in the conflict-ridden environment of Manipur.

Academic institutions may well hire and utilize the services of reputed engineering agencies whose management do not in any way disturb the academic works. The convention is in vogue in many other Indian universities. When the construction works are entrusted to qualified agencies outside the purview of the institution, the academicians will not face the burden and the quality of works will also be better. This will be an important step towards making education a free-zone.

University professors and medical professionals will get rid of possible scams relating of various development works. Academicians will be free from blames and may well concentrate their time and energy in the teaching and research activities. Better students will be produced from such institutions.

VOICE OF THE WEEK

The existence of engineering cells in academic institutions is really a headache to many academicians who are willing to concentrate on studies, research and nurturing students. In order to bring about a free academic environment, the existing engineering cells should be abolished and their works be entrusted to reputed agencies outside the purview of academic managers.


* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition) as part of 'The Voiceless Speaks'
This article was posted on August 07, 2013.


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