Indian educationist refreshes his memory at GC with Dr Abdus Salam
Indian education system is rigid and lacks independence for teachers
By Muhammad Ittefaq and Azhar Iqbal
CHANDIGARH: Professor Emeritus Ram Parkash Bambah, who along with Pakistani Nobel laureate Dr. Abdus Salam graduated from GC University Lahore in 1943, stressed a need for improving Indo-Pak academic linkages and developing good relations between Pakistan and India to ensure human development.
In an exclusive interview with The Educationist, Mr. Bambah, who is senior vice president of the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, said that the key issues of the higher education system in India were its rigidity, lack of independence for the teachers and freedom to make changes in it.
The 91-year-old professor emirates, who is also former vice chancellor of Panjab University Chandigarh, said, “We – Nitya Anand, F. S. Kohli, Sukh Dev and me were four graduates from GC Lahore and we all are alive and living in India.”
The Educationist: Tell us about your early life and education.
RP Bambah: I was born in Jhang and got early education from Quetta (now provincial capital of Balochistan) Pakistan. After that we shifted to Wazirabad (then part of Sialkot) in 1930 where I got primary and middle school education from MB High School Wazirabad and I was talented so the school promoted me from 1 to 4th grade and I appeared in scholarship exam but failed.
After that I secured 10th position in Matric from KC Arya High School, Sialkot in 1939. I got admission to Government Collage Lahore and my class roll number was 5 in 1939. We shifted from Sialkot to Lahore where I met Abdus Salam in 1942 when we both were 16 years old and I was fourth year student and Salam was third year student. I got first position in FA and BA and only beat once Salam in MA Mathematics when I got 600/600 marks in 1945 but Salam could not. I was editor of The Ravi and also president of student union. At that time, I was 20 years old. Salam and I were inspired by Prof Sarva Daman Chawla who was head of Government Collage Mathematics Department from 1936 to 1947. Prof Chawla asked me to select Mathematics and Salam research. In 1946, I got scholarship of Rs75 from The University of the Punjab, Lahore and in February 1947, we migrated from Lahore to Delhi. In 1948, I got scholarship from St. John’s Collage Cambridge in 1948 and I completed my PhD in 1950 at the age of 25, a year ago earlier that Salam got.
The Educationist: What about the friendship between you and Salam?
RP Bambah: We were good friends since the age of 16 when we met in GC Lahore. In Cambridge, Salam wanted to come back Pakistan and join civil service because of his economic condition and family responsibility. He left two trunks luggage in my room and asked me If he came back to Cambridge he will collect it from me otherwise I would send his trunks in Pakistan. Mr. Zafarullah and Fazle Hussain got him appointed professor in GC University and also granted leave him with full pay.
After come back in Cambridge, he (Salam) could not pass his examination and said (Laughing), ‘’Tum logon ny mujhy yahan la kar phansa dia hai acha hota mai Pakistan mai reh kar civil service join kar leta tum mery dost nahen dushman ho”.
In 1951, I came back India after completing my Post Doc in the age of 26. Salam got fellowship in 1952 but I failed. We remained together in Cambridge and later on I moved toward Institute for Advance Studies Princeton, USA for four months. Salam wanted me to stay with him but I must move from there.
The Educationist: Tell us about your family?
RP Bambah: I got married on February 23, 1956 with Saudamini Parija. We met in ship when I was coming from Cambridge and she was also coming from England after completing her MRCP. She passed away on November 14, 2011 after a brief illness. I have two daughters Bindhu A. Bambah and she is professor of Physics at Central University Hyderabad and the other one Socharu Khanna is a social worker (smiling).
The Educationist: Please tell us about your daily routine?
RP Bambah: I am currently senior vice president of Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID). I read newspaper daily at my home and sometime my grand student comes at my house for guidance and also working with some other institutions.
The Educationist: Did you see any religious discrimination of university students before partition of Indian Sub-Continent?
RP Bambah: We worked together in universities and never noticed about religion but sometime when we went in one another’s home, sometime used to feel about meal and utensils. Some people were conscious but mostly were not.
The Educationist: What was the ratio of male and female student at that time?
RP Bambah: There was no co-education till class BA but in MA, there was no female student in our time in our class. All departments worked together and there was also ‘’Parchi System’’ during those days. In our class, most students were rich and they did the same as today’s students do.
The Educationist: In your opinion, what are the major problems in Indian education System?
RP Bambah: One of the major problems in Indian education system is rigidity. There are lengthy procedures for updating the system. There is no independence in teachers and no freedom of change in this system. I wanted to do something for my institutions but I could not do that because of complications.
The Educationist: Where and on what positions have you been served?
RP Bambah: I joined Mathematics Department at PU in 1958. I joined Ohio State University (OSU), USA as professor in 1964. In 1971, I was appointed Dean of University Instructions at PU. I was also Vice Chancellor of PU from 1985 to 1991. I am also Professor Emeritus at PU since 1993. I was president of Indian Mathematical Society during 1969. I was also vice president of INSA during 1979-80. I was president of Mathematical Section of ISCA during 1973 and also its general president during 1983-84. I was chairman of governing body of Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune. Now, I am serving as Vice-Chairman of Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID). I am also member of PU senate since 2012.
The Educationist: What were your favourite games at Lahore during studentship?
RP Bambah: We used to go to Shimla Pahari, Mughalpura, Mall Road, Chinese Restaurant, Anarkali and Regal Cinema on daily basis. In cinema, we watch movies of Ashoke Kumar and there were no car on that time on road. Everywhere, tangas and cycles were seen. I went Lahore in 2005 and saw things are different now and Anarkali has lost its glory.
The Educationist: Sir, you have done a lot of things in your life and visited a large number of countries. Do you have any wish now?
RP Bambah: It is my wish that hate between the two countries should come to an end. The result of hate is nothing. I saw many countries that were enemies but now they are developed due to friendly relations. But we are stuck due to unfriendly relations. There should be academia linkages between both the countries and people of India and Pakistan also want this.