The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Co-opt cloud on varsity post nominee
- CPM leader rejected by Governor inducted into Jadavpur University board

Chancellor proposes, university disposes.

After failing to push him through into the university court, its highest decision-making body, as a chancellor’s nominee, attempts are on to get a senior CPM leader into a Jadavpur University (JU) board of studies (a statutory body). The first move failed because of Governor Viren J. Shah’s insistence on packing it with distinguished academicians and persons noted for their contribution in other areas.

The department of library and information science has recently recommended the name of CPM control commission member Prabir Raychaudhuri for induction into its board of studies, barely a couple of months after his nomination to the JU court was struck down by the Governor. He, instead, nominated former IIT-Kharagpur director Amitabha Ghosh, Indian Institute of Management director Amitabha Bose and industrialist Harsh Neotia for the post. It was a move interpreted in university circles as Shah’s effort to free the institution of “political shackles”.

The Governor’s refusal had kicked up a controversy. It was the first time in the recent past that any Governor had said no to a political nomination to the university court. But, as it transpires, in all probability, Shah had only managed to delay the inevitable. For, Raychaudhuri’s name has already been sent to the faculty council for its approval to induct him as an “external member” to the board of studies. The approval should come in due course, admit officers.

The board of studies, say university officers, is a “very important statutory body”, given its role in recruiting teachers. Officers say the board of studies takes decisions in matters like creation of teaching posts, besides prescribing the qualification of applicants vis-à-vis areas of specialisation. “Needless to say, these decisions have been seen to influence recruitment of teachers in several departments of the university in the past,” a senior JU officer said.

The decision to co-opt Raychaudhuri, who retired in 1997 as the head of the department of library and information science, as an “external member” has violated several university norms, admit officers. For one, Raychaudhuri is very much an insider and still draws pension from the university.

Besides, the very purpose of keeping an outsider on the board of studies has been defeated by the induction of someone who has been inextricably linked with the department, say officials.

The second violation, say officers, may invite the wrath of the University Grants Commission. The UGC, in a letter in March this year, made it clear that no retired teacher who had crossed the age of 62 could be appointed in any “statutory or even non-statutory position in any university or college”. Raychaudhuri, say officials, is above 62. Departmental head Amitabha Chatterjee, however, saw nothing wrong in the move.

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