Dutiful Work and Beautiful Life!
There is the tradition in Ayurveda thereby every treatment is initiated by giving medicine for complete emptying of the bowels. I am purified by Mr. Smirnoff and all the impurities are now out, thanks to the spirits in Mr. Smirnoff. I have a new day at hand in Kuwait. I am quite new to the life and habits here and I, therefore, have to begin afresh. Every Examination day I have to get ready sharply at 7 a.m. when Mr. Tanveer, the staffer of Universal Institute for Private Training, arrives at my apartment in Salmiya which is located near the City Center mall. With no or little sleep during the night and no rest during the last couple of days, I am a bit worn out and shabby in order to take up the job at the Off Campus Center.
By the time I have done all the nippy morning duties Mr. Tanveer has arrived to take me first to the Vegetarian hotel, “Uduppi”. Seeing vada-sambar and Idli my nausea has given way to saliva. After the sumptuous breakfast, by 7.20 we reach the Center. Lo! There are Ms. Fatima, Asha, Danesh to receive me. My first impression is the best impression, especially the warmth, the resourcefulness of Ms. Fatima! The Indian Embassy Officer Mr. SanjivSakalani who is already there with the question paper packets indeed looks like a very friendly person to chat with. Every one of them behaves as experienced experts in their respective duties. There are only a handful of candidates to take the supplementary examinations. I am hurt to note that the regular off campus programs outside the university jurisdiction have been struck down by a far-reaching university order.
I say far-reaching university order, because I, by the very first day itself, have come to experience how earnestly people here are craving for doing courses of M.G (Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam). Almost every phone call at the Center is concerning enquiries about joining courses of M.G. The reason is that the people in Kuwait, especially, Indian, Bengali, even middle-east repatriates or expatriates and N.R.I’s prefer M.G. to other Indian universities. They, with reluctance and displeasure, are constrained to join courses of Mysore or Calicut Universities. Now I wonder why M.G. alone follows meticulously the bizarre upshots of litigations while others still continue to run Off Campus institutions beyond their territorial jurisdiction! From my experience in regard to the enthusiasm displayed by the stake-holders to join my university, I have learnt that Mahatma Gandhi University positively enjoys the approbation of the whole world, thanks to its unique name “Mahatma Gandhi”.
The Examination started at 7.30 a.m. (Indian Time- 10 a.m.) and I have completed the related work well in time. Actually everything goes smooth and hassle free, far better than in most of the affiliated colleges of the universities in Kerala. While sitting idle I use to overhear the classes going on there. The classes are apparently engaged by faculty of high quality and experience. I think my guesswork cannot go wrong as their beautiful English, uncompromising pronouncing skills and stylish accent really are quite illuminating their credentials and talents as pedagogue. The picture of reality is far from the overestimated allegations of commercialization and malpractices. It is quite a classified truth that some of the self-financing colleges in Kerala are more commercialized and a few of them reportedly not having qualms even to abet copying malpractices during university examinations. Right from the days of my first acquaintance with Off Campus Institutions in 2004 as section officer of Off Campus Tabulation Section to the date of the promulgation of the recent university order striking down the institutions I never or ever had the slightest apprehension of such an abrupt closure. I constantly had a notion that Off Campus Institutions would stand there as far as the University is there!
With the exception of the above unenviable future prospects of M.G. Off Campus Centers, I am a happy man. The accommodation, food, transportation, etc. are “ash-posh”. My primary concern was my vegetarian ways. This has been well rejoined by the Uduppi Hotel nearby. In short, I have to note that by the first day itself I am on the right track sans any friction or hardship, whatsoever. I look forward to the same degree of rapport and smoothness in the days ahead too in respect of my work and life as well, here in Kuwait. I hope that the first impression which indeed has been the best one will carry on to retaining the same pitch throughout. The work is certainly to be engaged dutifully, the life too is hopefully to be spent, buoyantly, beautifully!
[i] The repercussions of the order are, indeed, far reaching. This may be understood only by knowing the concerns and grievances of the students, alumni and other stake-holders in Kuwait who want to see the retention of the institution as an Off Campus center of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. I have acquired this collective knowledge through informal chats with the staff here, the students and other visitor. Let me enumerate them, one by one:
- It is reliably learnt that Off Campus Centres of other Indian Universities having recognition of U.G.C. are still conducting Courses/ Programs in Kuwait.
- In today’s world of technological advancement, the question of territorial jurisdiction may not be made a reason for closure of Off Campus Centre of Kuwait, since the world has shrunken to a global village within the World Wide Web. In this respect, it is relevant to note that many of the high profile western universities and a few of the Indian Universities as well have switched over to online mode, rather irrespective of the territorial jurisdiction of the institutions.
Inter alia, it is reported in the media that the Union Government is about to allow six Off Campus institutions to Deemed Universities, though these Universities have no jurisdiction anywhere other than their own campuses.
- The allegation of misuse of Off Campus system is founded on the prejudiced notion that there possibilities for commercialization and dilution of education in Off Campus stream. The authorities appear to be under the misconception that there are examination malpractices in Off Campus institutions. Regarding the expenses for undergoing studies in the Off Campus centre in Kuwait I can honestly tell that the expenses here are less, when compared with other educational institutions in Kuwait.
Regarding the alleged malpractices in Inter National Off Campus Centers I am of the view that there is a fool proof system which is capable of making malpractices well nigh a matter of impossibility. This is so because here the University examinations are conducted under the supervision of the Indian Embassy. The Chief Superintendent is invariably a high profile official from the Embassy, the Additional Superintendent is a senior Faculty of Mahatma Gandhi University or from colleges affiliated to the University and the Administrative Superintendent is one of the experienced Senior Staffers of the University.
- As mentioned earlier, the majority of students and aspirants here are originally from places which are well within the territorial jurisdiction of Mahatma Gandhi University. When the Indian Government is earnestly extending all succor to N.R.I’s and even seriously thinking about granting them the right to participate in elections, it is an unjust and untimely backtracking decision to close down the Off Campus Centre on flimsy and nonexistent grounds.
- Many of the Indians working in Kuwait have come here by depriving themselves of their academic advancement as they were forced to discontinue their studies in India to earn a livelihood in Kuwait. Off Campus Centers did provide them a chance to resume their education from the scratches.
- There are facilities for Indians here to pursue studies upto Plus Two level. Thereafter, especially for girl students, the chance for U.G/higher education is getting dim as the expenses are higher and that the educational institutions and their affiliations may be even bogus ones. Besides, the parents do not prefer to send the girl students to hostels of such not so reliable institutions.