Journey to “A City of Learning”

Rajat Kalsotra
City of Temples, a hallmark accomplishment with which we consort ourselves with an inherent sense of pride and delight. Temples, in ancient times, were the fountainhead of learning, an abode of exceptionally learned and qualified masters who transmitted knowledge and wisdom. Read again, knowledge and wisdom, not mere rot ‘information’, data oriented and “Cramming the names of planets, Country’s Capitals, the Longests’ and the Highests’ in the world” type of perfunctory duty, which is presently being preached and ingrained in the minds of our kids. Knowledge, meant to ignite and liberate young birds, equipping them with wings to fly in unknown terrains, empowering them to see world beyond stigmas, opinions, judgments to bestow them the freedom/ privilege to dream a new world beyond prevailing horizons. Let’s enlighten ourselves with contemporary systems of learning infrastructures in our beloved Jammu City.
Recently, via advt. date 19-03-2019, DHANVANTRI LIBRARY, University Of Jammu, invited applications from ‘PRIVATE STUDENTS’ for Reading Room Facility, considered as the Best (as if there were any others) in our city.
To say, I was appalled or intimidated with ages old, pre-internet, pre-civilization PROCEDURE prescribed to enroll myself for a small 1 Sq. ft. space in the heavenly Dhanvantri Library would be an understatement and certainly raises queries regarding the system.
Firstly, an applicant (seeking a peaceful place to study and probably a frequent visitor to the ‘Circulation Counter’ of Library to find an unwelcoming receptionist, getting ward off and instructed to come later) has to get a ‘dream’ about the notification released, considering she (applicant) might not be a frequent visitor to the, not so well maintained, JU Website visitor, as no local newspaper published any advertisement regarding it.
Secondly, after the dream, a ‘Membership Form’ is to be downloaded, printed from a nearby Cyber café, and filled in duly. Wait! That’s not all, it is to be then ‘Signed & Recommended’ by not 1, but ‘2’ Professors of JU (mind you, not Associate Professors, purely Professors) who will bear to witness for the applicant, considering they know her (the applicant) from childhood. If she succeeds in finding 2 professors & begging to get herself endorsed (considering she is a Private Student, not from JU), she moves ahead to Level 3.
Third Level (1st Round), she then augments her vigor to find a ‘First Class Magistrate’, yes, to swear before her (Magistrate), & with all her power convince her to issue an affidavit. Let the reader remember, this procedure is not to get a marriage or property registered, but for attaining membership to a Library.
Third Level (2nd Round), it’s not yet over with the magistrate, the fight remains, she has to find ‘Two Witnesses’, apart from Magistrate, who will like ‘agni’ (fire) stand testimony to the heavenly ‘decree’ of the 1st Class Magistrate, who bestows upon the applicant the power to file an application for the membership, the approval demands other sacrifices, which demands another debate.
Fourthly, as per Rules, there are only ‘100’ Vacancies for ‘Private’ Students. Well versed with the Demography of our State, & the miniscule sum of Libraries in the so called Traditional Centre of Learning, does this number sound just? But there is more to this, so called ‘PRIVATE STUDENTS’ includes Retired Teachers, Government Officials, and eminent Scholars, who will get first Preference over mere Graduates. Yes, library should definitely breed democracy and should be accessible to all. Just think, what’s left in the cake for the remaining students?
Fifthly, there are strict rules (though ‘Discipline’ must be given priority). Read this, a Private Student, cannot ENCROACH upon spaces of regular students and others. encroach, in literal, means “Intruding on a Person’s Territory”. Well, we must respect Art. 370, and conferred Right to Property, that still breathes in our State.
In an RTI Reply in 2015, University maintained that it annually earns 15 Lacks from Private Members, which is a sounds revenue generation, but the number of seats stand still at 100 for private students, surrounding other complaints regarding non-functioning of Fans, dirty washrooms, no proper storage facilities, consistent Fee hikes (Rs 540/month, at present).
Digital India, Technology driven Platforms, Minimum Government, Maximum Governance etc, what for? Why only Ease of Doing Business bothers us, & not Ease of Accessing Education? Access to Safe & Peaceful Environment for aggrandizing Learning proficiencies?
Why, the applicant is dominatingly being referred to as ‘She’ in this article, is because the sanctuaries (Universities), blessed with the responsibility of imparting education, and knowledge to the world, which will embolden the minds of youth with a sense of Enquiry, a sense of questioning, a sense of ‘seeking’ rather than ‘believing’, a sense of tolerance, acceptance, unity, respect, fail to acknowledge the importance of gender equality. The Application Form had ample space to accommodate the ‘Name of the Father’ of the Applicant, but miserably blundered on account of the Mother. It’s just a little thing, right? Well, look at the state of Women in the country? Little things matter, recognition matters, change begins at home, & I consider learning Centre as second home. What about you?
As wisely enumerated by Albert Einstein, “Example isn’t another way to Teach, it is the only way to teach”. Present, Respected Vice Chancellor, University of Jammu has the ball in his court, & can set new examples by discarding backbreaking & arduous Procedures & adopting ‘Single Window Clearance’, ‘Manual to online modes’, hike in number of seats It’s high time that the monotonous, laborious and tedious procedures involved are set aside and simpler, smooth means are embraced. Handing over ‘Smart Cards’ to Students for authorizing their entry in the library will serve no purpose till the procedure involved to attain the smart card is ‘not so smart’
At last, fairly said by Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I Forget, Teach me and I Remember, and involve me and I Learn”. There are questions we need to confront ourselves with. Are we investing adequately in building infrastructures related to reading places, libraries for inspiring young generations in primary, secondary schools? As quoted, A library is a delivery room for the Birth of Ideas where History comes to life. When put to question, Should we build more temples, the answer should be a YES, ‘Temples of learning’ to justify our Title “Jammu- A City Of Temples”.