College Street has said no to Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.
In a show of deliberate defiance, Calcutta University (CU) has run its pen through proposals from the University Grants Commission (UGC) that would have allowed it to control reforms on the Calcutta campus from its Delhi office.
After taking on the UGC last week over its role in colleges like Presidency, Maulana Azad, Lady Brabourne, St Xavier’s and Asutosh, CU opened a second front on Thursday night when its Syndicate rejected the commission’s proposal to introduce its Model Act.
“We have reason to believe that the Model Act represents a subtle attempt by the UGC to rob us of our autonomy and also destabilise our traditional role in the affairs of many institutions,” said Suranjan Das, pro vice-chancellor of the university.
Education officials on Friday indicated that the Syndicate’s rejection of the UGC proposal could trigger similar responses from Jadavpur and Rabindra Bharati universities, both enjoying state aid and autonomy, and four others elsewhere in Bengal.
“This is unthinkable. On the one hand, the Centre wants to reduce allocation. On the other, we can see a clear indication through its guidelines that there is an attempt to establish control on all affairs of the university,” said Shyamapada Pal, a member of the Syndicate.
For the past few months, the UGC, apparently at the behest of the Union human resource ministry, has been pushing CU and another 250 state-aided universities across the country to replace the present governing acts with individual Model Acts.
The stated aim is to facilitate fundamental reforms at these institutions.
“We believe CU and its affiliates are run in a democratic manner. There is no need for us to restructure our present act to go with the UGC’s guidelines. But we are open to suggestions for improvement,” said Das.
In course of Thursday’s five-hour meeting, members of the Syndicate — all known to be hand-picked by the ruling CPM — rubbished the UGC proposal as “nothing but Delhi’s attempt to establish full and direct control” over the internal affairs of the 147-year-old university.
The university’s response is allegedly also fuelled by the fear that the UGC’s Model Act, if adopted, will allow its individual departments and affiliates, like Presidency, St Xavier’s and Lady Brabourne, to bypass CU and deal directly with Delhi.
The guideline in the Model Act that the CU Syndicate found most “unacceptable” was that the university discard the system of elected bodies at all levels of administration.
“This is against the tradition of the university, as we have been following a democratic method,” said Das.
The UGC demand for an all-powerful “visitor” was also slammed by the Syndicate.