countdown to first convocation
Presidency students on Tuesday afternoon rehearse taking oath in Sanskrit for the university’s first convocation, to be held on Thursday. Three hundred and forty students will receive their master’s degree from the chancellor, governor MK Narayanan, at the convocation. The oath session has been modelled on the ones at Oxford and Cambridge, where students take their oaths in Latin. At other state universities such oaths are taken in English. Vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar said rehearsals were being held as the students were not conversant in Sanskrit. A teacher who helped students in reading out the four-minute oath urged them to be careful about their pronunciation. Picture by Anup Bhattacharjee
What: First convocation of Presidency University
Where: Derozio Hall
on the College Street campus
When: 9.45am on Thursday
Who will be there: Chancellor governor
MK Narayanan, chief guest Sam Pitroda, education minister Bratya Basu and vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar
What will happen: The programme will start with the academic procession. The chancellor will declare the convocation open at 9.50am. The VC will administer the oath to the 340 students who will receive their master’s degrees. Speeches by the chancellor, VC, chief guest and guest of honour Bratya Basu will follow.
Honour roll: Historian Ranajit Guha will receive DLitt (honoris causa). Mihir Chowdhury, a professor of chemistry at the erstwhile Presidency College, will be awarded DSc (honoris causa). Master’s toppers will receive gold medals.
Closing ceremony: The chancellor will declare the convocation closed at 12.35pm and national anthem will be sung.
Higher education minister Bratya Basu and higher education council chairman Sugata Marjit were on a collision course on Wednesday on choosing Presidency University vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar’s successor.
Marjit said the panel to choose Presidency’s next vice-chancellor would resume work after September 20 but moments later minister Basu clarified that the government, not the council, would decide what to do.
The search panel to choose Sarkar’s successor — comprising three Trinamul loyalists, led by Marjit — had to backtrack following the intervention of the chancellor, governor M.K. Narayanan.
After lying low for almost a month, Marjit said at Rabindra Bharati University on Wednesday: “The search committee will resume work after September 20. We will recommend a name anytime as the order says she has been granted extension for six months or till the appointment of a successor, whichever is earlier…. I don’t know whether any new order would be issued, but the language of the (earlier) order says one would continue till the successor assumes charge.”
Basu said tonight: “I don’t know what Sugata Marjit has said (but) the appointment of a VC is the higher education department’s job and the higher education council has nothing to do with it.”
The panel formed earlier had been widely criticised because it was packed with loyalists of the ruling party and smacked of political interference, something the new-look Presidency had been trying to steer clear of under the guidance of a mentor group whose chair had been handpicked by Mamata Banerjee.
Besides Marjit, the panel comprises ISI professor Avirup Sarkar and CU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das. It was said earlier that Das had wanted to quit the panel in the wake of the controversy.
Marjit said on Wednesday: “I am not aware of any such thing.”
The setting up of the search panel coincided with a letter from the government to Sarkar, saying her tenure would end on August 14, the day she turned 65. The move was perceived as the brainchild of Marjit’s camp.
Minister Basu took a contrary stand last week, asserting that Sarkar would remain VC till February 15.
Marjit’s comment on Wednesday suggested that the panel was bent on replacing Sarkar before February. He asserted that the July 29 order extending the tenure of Sarkar was “sacrosanct”.
“The order that has been served is sacrosanct. It says her term is being extended by six months or till the appointment of a successor, whichever is earlier. Whether we will be able to find a vice-chancellor by February 2014 or January 2014 is a separate issue. But we would follow the order word by word.”
VC Sarkar said she would follow whatever the chancellor decides. She, however, referred to Basu’s comment last week, saying: “Whatever the minister says has some value.”
Presidency can have a full-term vice-chancellor only after its statutes are drawn up and a governing board is formed. Till then, any appointment would be an interim one.