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5-star folly in varsity figures
- JU slashes teaching, research grants to hike reimbursements

The New Year plans drawn up by Jadavpur University (JU) are intriguing. Cash may be at a premium for laboratory teaching and research — except for the vice-chancellor’s department (physics) and a few other select departments (like economics) — as the ‘five-star’ university goes ahead with imposing an “embargo” of 40 per cent on all non-salary grants because of “financial constraints”. That, curiously, has not stopped the university from trebling the taxi-fare reimbursement members of all varsity statutory committees get, irrespective of the distance they travel.

Till this year, all members of the university’s various committees and sub-committees would get Rs 100 for attending meetings convened by the authorities. Most members of the last executive council meeting — held in the first week of this month — chose fit to raise that to Rs 300. The move was aimed at distributing largesse to a section of influential teachers and officials, a senior JU official said.

The draft budget, approved at another executive council meeting last month, would make it difficult for teachers and researchers, Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association vice-president Tarun Naskar said. Grants allotted under most heads show that they are less than the figures of two years back. For instance, the chemistry department spent Rs 98,200 on gas supply in 2001-02. For 2003-04, it is getting Rs 56,000 The mechanical engineering department spent Rs 3,25,242 on lab teaching two years back; but this time it has been given less than Rs 3 lakh.

The draft budget, curiously, spares physics (the vice-chancellor’s department) and economics (the department with an influential CPM teacher-leader). If physics spent Rs 5,98,000 on lab teaching two years back, it will be given Rs 6,48,000 for the next academic year. The economics department spent Rs 12,502 on research two years back; for 2003-04, it has got Rs 19,800 for the same.

On the eve of Tuesday’s convocation, the All-Bengal University Teachers’ Association has termed the official response of “rationalising expenditure” as a “huge lie”. “Why do we find the expenses on heads known to facilitate making of easy money, like furniture and repair and maintenance, rising steadily'” demanded Association spokesperson Dipak Bandyopadhyay. “The rise, from Rs 11.13 lakh to Rs 44 lakh, suggests we had been using nothing but mattresses all these years,” he remarked.

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