The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Campus hits no-sign hitch
- Students denied job call, grant goes waste

For a section of students in Calcutta University’s (CU) electronic science department, what stands in the way of a crack at a job with a leading software company in the country is — a signature.

For a Rs 28-lakh fund given to CU’s electronic science department by the central department of science and technology, what stands in the way of its utilisation through a research project is — a signature.

It is the reluctance of the head of department to put pen to paper that has, on the one hand, denied students a chance to vie for a berth in a Saltlec-based biggie, and on the other, all but ensured that the university will have to return the research grant to Delhi.

First, the students. No less than 22 of them, in second-year M.Sc electronic science, eyeing a place in the software big league, have, allegedly, been deprived as their head of the department “refused” to sign a letter addressed to the company allowing it to conduct interviews on the Rajabazar Science College campus.

Fed up with the functioning of the department, these students have lodged a written complaint with CU vice-chancellor Ashis Kumar Banerjee.

They have sought his help in breaking the deadlock created due to head of the department Pragyan Chattopadhyay’s “non-cooperation”.

Admitting that the grievances voiced by students and teachers had reached his office, vice-chancellor Banerjee said: “We are aware of the problem and we are finalising a decision to appoint a new head for the electronic science department.”

Department head Chattopadhay, however, refused to comment on the controversy when contacted over telephone.

Student Suman Ghosh (name changed on request) articulated the anger on campus: “Prof Chattopadhyay has never signed a single document ever since he joined as the head of our department in June this year. We were stunned at the manner in which he jeopardised our careers by refusing to sign the letter to the company, allowing it to conduct campus interviews.”

The campus interview is vital to a student’s future, particularly in such streams. But going by the university rules, a company can hold campus interviews of second-year M.Sc students only after the head of the department concerned gives his or her consent in writing.

The teachers of the electronic science department, meanwhile, have requested an emergency meeting with department head Chattopadhyay “to discuss the problems” arising out of his “reluctance to sign important documents” that cannot be processed without his sanction.

“This is giving rise to confusion and a stalemate,” the teachers complained.

Their grudge list stretched from academic activities, including purchase of books, journals and laboratory equipment, repairs, correspondence with other institutions, and the Rs 28-lakh research grant that remains unutilised and may have to be returned — all because of the head of the department’s no- signature line.

The students have threatened to launch a movement if the authorities fail to resolve the impasse in the department.

Topping their demands is the immediate ouster of Chattopadhyay and the streamlining of academic functioning in the department.

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