Critical thinkers must for growth: Datta

Critical thinkers must for growth: Datta
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kurukshetra, January 11
Renowned historian V.N. Datta shared his memories with the fraternity of Kurukshetra University while speaking at the concluding function of the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of the university here today.

Professor Datta, who is one of the founding teachers of the university and continues to be its Professor Emeritus, recalled how the first President of the country, Dr Rajendra Prasad, accompanied by great educationist K.M. Munshi, had laid the foundation stone of Kurukshetra University 50 years ago. The university was the dream of the then Punjab Governor, Mr C.P.N. Singh, a great Sanskrit scholar, who wanted to set up an institute to promote Indian culture and traditions. Mr Hardwari Lal, an educationist who later joined politics, turned Mr Singh’s dream into a reality.

Recalling the contributions of several former Vice-Chancellors, like Dr A.C.Joshi, Mr Hardwari Lal and Mr Suraj Bhan, Professor Datta said during the incipient stage of the university they had worked tirelessly to establish it as a renowned centre of higher education and research. He also recalled with pride the role of dedicated teachers like Dr Sarup Singh, Dr Vikas Mishra, Dr S.N.Mukherjee, Dr Amar Singh and many others who had nurtured the university with a rare sense of devotion.

Professor Datta said the then Chief Minister, Mr Bansi Lal, had set an example by fully respecting the autonomy of the universities. Though Mr Bansi Lal was under pressure from various lobbies inside the state to appoint a person belonging to Haryana as the Vice-Chancellor, he put his foot down and asked the then Chancellor, Mr B.N. Chakravarty, to bring a person of his choice from any part of the country to set the things right in the university. Mr Bansi Lal never interfered in the functioning of the university, Professor Datta added.

But he was not kind to all former Vice-Chancellors. Professor Datta said the university had 31 VCs in 50 years, giving an average of less than two years to each. Of these 12 were IAS officers, two had judicial background, one was a politician and two of them were dismissed. He was candid enough to say that out of 31, only six persons were really qualified to be the Vice-Chancellor of a university.

He regretted that the fact that at present no person could become a VC without political support. However, in the interest of the university, there should not be any political intereference in its functioning. He said while in India a VC was the key to the development of a university, in western countries, a VC could not function without the support of teachers.

Professor Datta Datta suggested that the university should establish a centre for science studies in order to promote scientific temper on the campus. He also advocated the need for setting up a Chair of comparative religions. He was very emphatic in suggesting that a university could grow in the right direction only by encouraging critical thinking among its academic community.

In his presidential remarks Mr H.K.Dua, Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune group of publications, focused on the dangers of the embedded journalism sponsored by vested interests as had happened in the two Gulf wars, when the media was manipulated by the victors. This would pose a problem for the future historians, who would have to turn to the manipulated reports of the present day media to seek truth. He said historians and journalists should both try to seek truth. But the journalists could give only approximate truth because of the pressure of deadlines, while a historian could work at leisure. He regretted that a historian’s task became difficult when politicians tried to reconstruct the history as per their whims.

In an oblique reference to Ram janmbhoomi dispute, Mr Dua regretted that history was being manipulated for dividing the people. He warned that unless this dangerous trend was checked it would lead to a disaster.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof R.P. Hooda, reiterated his commitment to take all possible measures for taking the university to the goal of excellence.

Mr Dua also released the 50th year monograph of the university.

Professor Datta donated Rs 1 lakh to the university for starting a scholarship in the memory of his father, Mr Braham Nath Datta Qasir, who was conferred Padamshree in 1969.