A bonanza rolled out in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon sent ripples through College Street. The Rs 100-crore grant couldn't have been better timed for a cash-strapped Calcutta University in its 150th anniversary year.
And as an add-on effect of the grant, the university has decided to throw open its faculty door for deserving candidates from across the country.
'The allocation is for research. The money will be used for subjects that were not getting the attention they deserve because of a funds crunch,' said pro vice-chancellor Suranjan Das. 'The funds will boost research in emerging areas and social and pure sciences.'
The subjects that will benefit are biotechnology, nano-technology, genetic engineering, environmental science, history, international relations, sociology, economics, pure mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology.
Moments after Union finance minister P. Chidambaram wound up his budget speech, senior officials of the university went into a huddle to prepare a blueprint.
As a first step, the university decided to depart from the policy of recruiting teachers only from Bengal. 'We must have the best brains from across the country if we want to pursue advanced research,' Das asserted.
The existing recruitment policy makes it mandatory for the authorities to seek the government's consent if they want to recruit a teacher from outside the state. The new policy, to be finalised soon, will enable the university to hire teachers on short terms from top-notch institutions like Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
A considerable portion of the funds will be kept aside for 'running the teaching posts independently', Das added.
To attract scholars from other states and abroad, the university will set up modern laboratories and hostels.
According to registrar Samir Bandyopadhyay, never before had Calcutta University figured in such a prominent way in the Union budget. 'Of the Rs 100 crore, half has been granted on the basis of the proposals the university had submitted to the Centre. The rest is a recognition of the institution's academic excellence,' he said.
Reacting to another Bengal benefit in the budget, commerce and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen said: 'The access-controlled expressway between Dhanbad and Calcutta will facilitate swifter movement between the two cities.'
As for the finance minister's announcement that a deep draft port may be set up in Bengal, Sen said: 'The shipping ministry has sanctioned Rs 10 crore for a feasibility study for a port off Sagar Island. The terms of reference are ready and the Centre will invite bids soon for the study.'