Sitanath Lahkar delivers a lecture after the release of his book at Cotton College on Friday. Telegraph picture
April 27: Professor Sitanath Lahkar fought a lone battle against granting autonomous status to Cotton College, while all his colleagues favoured the move.
Lahkar’s conscience could not overlook the fact that the decision would inconvenience his poor students.
His colleagues later realised their mistake and other developments followed, including consideration of granting deemed university status to the college. But finally, the teachers got what they wanted — state university status for Cotton College.
In his book, Uchcha Shikshar Sankat Aaru Cotton College, which was launched in the conference hall of the college today, mathematics professor Lahkar recounted what he had seen about the developments of the college, how it was going to be privatised and how he had to struggle against it.
Commissioner of the department of state higher education, Hemanga Kishore Sharma, released the book. Former vice-principal of the college, Rafiul Haq, and chairman of Assam State Electricity Board, Subhash Chandra Das, were also present at the function.
Lahkar, who will retire from the college on Monday after a long tenure, said: “In the book, I have recorded how I struggled for more than a decade against privatising Cotton College by first making it an autonomous college and then a deemed university.”
After the book release, Lahkar recalled his struggle. “Till the first half of 2000, I did not have much idea about autonomous colleges. But when I met one of our former students, Ratnadeb Sarma — a teacher at Rajdhani College in Delhi — he explained to me how dangerous the move was. He even told me how college teachers under Delhi University protested in unison against granting autonomous status to their colleges. That led me to think,” he said.
Lahkar said granting autonomous status to the college would have meant generating its revenues by itself. And the students would be the ultimate sufferers, as the college would raise fees to earn revenue. Besides the jobs of teachers would have become uncertain.
“But the teachers were not aware of it. When I opposed autonomy, my colleagues alienated me. The situation went so bad that at one point of time I heard some irritated teachers were about to assault for my stand,” Lahkar said.
The same happened when deemed university status was about to be granted to the college. Lahkar had to struggle again to expose the ill effects of the move. He wrote articles in newspapers about how the college was going to suffer.
In the foreword of his book, Lahkar expressed his gratitude towards The Telegraph, three vernacular newspapers, a magazine and a souvenir for helping him in his struggle. “Today, the teachers of the college are happy. They need not worry about their jobs. Most importantly, there is no proposal to increase fees of the students,” Lahkar said.