Guwahati, July 2: An embarrassed Gauhati University has sent an SOS to Dispur to set up a chair in the name of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, to fulfil an old commitment to Punjab University.
Vice-chancellor Okhil Kumar Medhi recently met education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and apprised the latter that the university had inked an agreement with Punjab University some years ago to set up the chair. The subject got an important mention in the PowerPoint presentation that Medhi gave before the education minister last week for futuristic development of the university.
“According to the agreement, Punjab University was to set up a chair in the name of Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardev and it eventually fulfilled its commitment. But Gauhati University has not yet been able to keep its promise for which it is hugely embarrassed. The GU Court, a decision-making body, has taken strong exception to the university’s failure to install the Guru Nanak chair,” a source in Dispur while quoting Medhi said.
Sources told The Telegraph that the vice-chancellor made a fervent plea to the Assam government to take up the matter seriously and allocate funds to set up the chair.
Medhi argued that once the chair is created the university authority would appoint a scholar to carry out research projects on Sikh religion, its philosophy and life and works of Guru Nanak.
Sources said though the state government is still non-committal to the plea to set up the Guru Nanak chair, the university has decided to mount pressure on the education department on the issue.
“The prestige and reputation of Gauhati University is at stake for not being able to fulfil its commitment. The connection of Assam with Sikhs dates back to Guru Nanak’s visit to Assam during the 15th century. The settlement of the Sikh community in Assam can be traced back to the third Burmese attack. So, considering the historical background, the state has a moral responsibility to do something to remember life and works of Guru Nanak,” a university faculty said.
During last week’s PowerPoint presentation, Medhi also requested the state government to earmark funds to set up chairs in the name of music maestro Bhupen Hazarika and litterateur Mamoni Raisom Goswami.
The University Grants Commission recently accorded permission to Tezpur University, a central university to set up the Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardev chair from this year.
Gauhati University was established on January 26, 1948, with an objective to bring about social, economic, cultural, moral and spiritual uplift of the people of Assam.
Starting with 17 affiliated colleges and eight postgraduate departments, the university now has now 300 affiliated institutions and nearly 40 postgraduate departments.