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Governor roots for politics of debate

Campus politics should be restricted to debates and discussions and never degenerate to disruptive activities, governor M.K. Narayanan said while addressing the convocation at Jadavpur University on Tuesday.

The governor, who is chancellor of the university, also urged the students to practise self-discipline.

“Self-discipline is vital. Politics on the campus, if restricted to debates and discussions, is worthwhile and important. But this should not lead to disruptive tendencies,” Narayanan said in his address.

The chancellor has expressed concern over disruptive campus politics several times. At the Calcutta University convocation on November 30, Narayanan had advised students against resorting to violence on campus and to maintain discipline while agitating against the authorities.

“Though I believe that protests are part of an average life in the university, they should not tend to become destructive,” Narayanan had said at the CU convocation.

A JU official said the chancellor’s speech conveyed a stern message to students, a section of whom has made it a habit to gherao the vice-chancellor and other senior officials for hours in an attempt to to get their demands met.

In February, students had gheraoed then VC Souvik Bhattacharyya and some teachers throughout the day, demanding immediate campus election. In September, students had confined Bhattacharyya and some other officials in his office for over 50 hours, demanding revocation of the punishment slapped on two final-year students held guilty of ragging.

The authorities had in August suspended one final-year student for a year and another for six months for ragging a second-year student.

The governor was so annoyed with the September gherao that he summoned Bhattacharyya and pulled him up for not seeking the administration’s help while the students were holding him and others hostage.

The chancellor said in his speech: “You have a new VC and there is no student unrest at the moment.”

Abhijit Chakrabarti assumed charge on November 2 after Bhattacharyya resigned following differences with some members of the executive council — the university’s highest decision-making body — over revocation of the punishment meted out to the ragging duo.

The two students had earlier this month appealed to the chancellor to reduce the quantum of punishment. When asked about the plea, the chancellor said: “I will take a decision at an appropriate time.”

Narayanan said JU should attract teachers from abroad to raise its academic standard. He had stressed this point in last year’s convocation address, too.

JU conferred DLitt (honoris causa) on physicist Ashoke Sen, actor Naseeruddin Shah and the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Sekhar Basu.