Gauhati University vice-chancellor Amarjyoti Choudhury’s decision to resign is extremely unfortunate and, at the same time, unexpected. That the vice-chancellor had to resign for the second time within so short a time speaks a lot about the mental torture he had been going through ever since taking up the reins of the premier institute of education in the region.
The vice-chancellor held the destiny of a university. A man of integrity and fine sensibilities, Dr Choudhury’s “vision document” was aimed at taking Gauhati University to a new high where the light of learning will shine on one and all, in an atmosphere best suited for education. For this, all he asked for was Rs 180 crore. In a very short span of time, the vice-chancellor had prioritised his job and was able to lay out a clear path on which to take the university to new heights.
That the state government was not at all keen to part with the money was evident from the fact that Dispur agreed to pay a sum of Rs 25 crore only after the vice-chancellor tendered his resignation for the first time in September last year. What came as the last straw on the camel’s back were certain unwarranted remarks from within the government.
Let’s get the facts clear. It is the chancellor — in this case Governor Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh — who is the head of Gauhati University and not the state government. If the government was displeased with the vice-chancellor in any way, the more appropriate way of conveying the message to him would be through the chancellor.
The comments from the state government came without taking the facts into consideration. The vice-chancellor was finding it very difficult to raise the funds needed for even paying the salaries of the teachers and employees, which he had himself pointed out. There was a huge shortfall in the annual grant-in-aid from the state government and the amount needed for the payment of the salaries.
The government was bound to provide aid to the education sector. It was an obligation that the government could not escape.
However, Dispur asking the university to raise students’ fees to raise its own internal resources was an escapist formula. The recent devastation in a cyclone too led to damage and loss of infrastructure worth crores of rupees. The rebuilding will need funds. With a government as uncaring as the one in power, the vice-chancellor could not hope to get any help.
The vice-chancellor acted in a manner he thought was the best. Others may react differently. Now the moot question is, how the government will pull itself and the university out of the mess. Wise decisions are the need of the hour if Gauhati University is to remain among the most important centres of learning in the region.