Vice-Chancellor of the upcoming Central University of Haryana on the institution’s present and future plans

Established under the Central Universities Act, 2009, along with 14 other universities across the country, the Central University of Haryana (CUH) shifted to its permanent campus spread over 488 acres at Jant-Pali villages in Mahendergarh, more than 200 km from Delhi, over a month ago.

Set up in one of the most backward regions of Haryana with the lowest child sex ratio and the lowest literacy rate, the institute, which faces resistance from the locals over the issues of reservations in jobs and admissions, holds great significance for the holistic development of the area and could prove to be that much-needed impetus for change.

Ahead of the proposed visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to the institute next month, the University’s Vice-Chancellor Major General (Dr.) Ranjit Singh, AVSM, VSM (Retd.) speaks to The Hindu about his priorities, challenges and vision for the institute. Excerpts from the interview:

With the university being shifted to its permanent campus just a month ago and the construction work still far from over, what are your priorities before the commencement of the academic session 2014-15?

Firstly, we are to launch eight new departments for the next academic session — Electronics, Geography, History and Archaeology, Journalism, Media and Mass Communication, Mathematics, Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology — with the approval of the governing agencies. Besides, we are in the process of initiating the second phase of developmental projects which will primarily include Central Library, Sports Complex, Academic Block, Administrative Block, Faculty Accommodation, Auditorium, Students Cafeteria and Vice Chancellor Lodge. We are focussing on a learner-centric approach.

Why did it take more than four years for the University to shift to its permanent campus?

The university had to go through various administrative procedures, including acquiring and earmarking of land, getting the layout plan and the design of the buildings approved by the Building Committee, Finance Committee, Executive Council and of course by the Visitor of the University, and finally to select an appropriate agency to construct the boundary walls and buildings. Though the work done by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) couldn’t match up to our expectations, as soon as we were provided with minimum basic space, we shifted without bothering about the possible challenges we might have to face.

Even today none of the University’s employees, including faculty members, is regular. Your comments

Very true, but we have already advertised for the teaching, administrative and other posts and scrutiny for the same is under process so that we may have regular staff in different positions within a couple of months.

The local villagers were initially hostile towards the setting-up of the university. What were their grievances?

Villagers were asking for reservation in admissions and jobs, but it took them some time to understand that the issue of reservation doesn’t come under the purview of the Central University of Haryana as there is no such provision in the Central Universities Act, 2009. However, the university is quite sensitive towards their issues and therefore the outsourcing agency has been specially directed to give special preference to candidates from Jant and Pali villages.

What efforts are being made by the university authorities to bring the local villagers on the board?

In addition to giving preference to the locals in employment through the outsourcing agency, we have launched free remedial coaching classes by the university scholars for students from Class I to XII from neighbouring villages. These take place within the university campus all seven days of the week. The college-going students from the villages have been invited to attend the personality development classes run in the university.

What significance does this institute hold for the region, which is one of the most backward areas in Haryana and has the lowest child sex ratio in the State?

The Central University of Haryana is committed to achieve new heights in academics, research and innovation, while remaining sensitive to the needs of the local area.

It aims at providing multidisciplinary understanding of the knowledge through the most innovative pedagogies in vogue. Besides, the university is conscious of its responsibility and commitment to society and, therefore, through its social outreach programmes it will contribute significantly in bringing awareness in the area surrounding us through initiatives like campaigns sensitising the people against social evils.

CUH will design its curriculum and research agenda focusing on global needs and therefore in the very near future, we’re sure this area which is today considered as remote and known for very-very skewed ratio, will take pride in getting associated with the University for the change it would bring in the life of even the last man in the row.

What is your vision for the university?

I along with my team aspire to create world class academic and physical infrastructure in the University, the most conducive environment for academics, research and innovation along the lines of Cambridge, Harvard and other prestigious Universities across the globe… We also plan to create water harvesting projects and lakes within the campus, which in turn would attract flora and fauna of diverse species that would help in research purposes.