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Mentor or not? Bose turns to Sen

Harvard professor Sugata Bose on Wednesday invoked Amartya Sen’s name and said the Nobel laureate had advised him against deciding in haste on whether or not to continue as chief mentor of Presidency University.

Bose, the Trinamul nominee for the Lok Sabha from Jadavpur, also said he would find out whether ISI Calcutta had benefited or suffered because of Pranab Mukherjee’s presence in the governing council when he was a Congress MP.

“Professor Sen advised me not to take any decision in haste. His advice was I should think hard before making up my mind. Besides, we have to study the functioning of academic bodies of various institutes, like ISI Calcutta where President Pranab Mukherjee was chairman of the governing council when he was the Congress MP from Jangipur,” Bose said at his south Calcutta home, hours after returning from the US.

Mukherjee headed the governing council from 2004 till he became President in 2012.

“I want to check with friends and officials in the ISI whether his (Mukherjee’s) association helped the institute or put it in trouble. I would take the right decision (on his continuing as Presidency mentor) at the right time,” he added. Bose said he would speak to chief minister Mamata Banerjee before taking the final call. “She had appointed me.”

Last week, in an informal referendum held by the Presidency students union, 1,208 students had voted for Bose’s resignation from the mentor group following his nomination as a Trinamul candidate. Only 316 students had voted in his favour.

Bose also cited the example of bureaucrat-turned-politician N.K. Singh, who is a member of the governing board of Nalanda University. “The board has benefited from the association of the former JD-U MP,” said Bose.

A senior official of ISI Calcutta told Metro that “the institute had immensely benefited” from Mukherjee’s association. “Mukherjee was a Union minister when he headed the governing council. Following his intervention, the Centre had sanctioned Rs 115 crore to develop the RC Bose Centre for Cryptology and Security. He was also instrumental in getting funds to develop the Tezpur centre of the ISI.”

Bose, who left for Sonarpur to attend a workers’ meeting later in the day, said it was crucial “to ensure there was no political bias in education”.

Bose stressed there is no confrontation between politics and academics and every politician should work for education. Asked whether he would follow this principle even when he became an MP, he said: “My personality will remain the same. I have not changed after joining politics.”