'Blame downfall for '86 political change '
|Lalit Narayan Mishra Institute of Economic Development and Social Change. Picture by Deepak Kumar|
Why has LN Mishra Institute failed to make a name for itself, despite being one of the oldest institutes in the state?
LN Mishra Institute of Economic Development and Social Change was established in 1973 when there was no management course and the institute was the first one to start such a curriculum in eastern India. Around 5,000 boys and girls have got placement in corporate sectors through this institute. It went on to become very popular and everyone used to praise the institute. It was in 1986 when a political change took place with Bindeshwari Dubey assuming office of the chairman of the Institute after becoming the chief minister. He started his own rules and regulations in the institute to annihilate me. But these rules and regulations stopped the growth of the institute. Till the time I was there, altogether 37 teachers were in the institute. But no new recruitment was made under the leadership of Dubey and the number of teachers came down to seven.
In 1989, I became the chief minister and restored the autonomy of the institute. However, when Lalu Prasad became the chief minister, he sacked me from the post of the director-general and chairperson of the institute and formed a governing council that never held a meeting. Between 1990 and 2005, not a single meeting was held in the institute. This caused much damage to the institute.
Do you think that chief minister Nitish Kumar has done enough for the institute?
The first meeting of the governing council was held under Nitish in 2006 after he became chief minister in 2005. The institute has once again started growing under his leadership. He also took personal interest in forming another management institute, Chandragupt Institute of Management, Patna, in 2010. He made me the acting chairperson of the institute to restore its glory. Being the founder of the institute, I took up the challenge and also got support from the Nitish Kumar government. In the last budget, the state government allocated Rs 5 crore for the development of the institute.
Why does your institute not have enough qualified teachers?
According to the rules of Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC), we cannot recruit new professors. There is a dispute between the state government and the commission over this. At present, we can only take teachers on a contract basis. As a result, we cannot hire qualified teachers. I accept that the faculty of the institute is not up to the mark because they are doing the job on a contract basis. It is difficult to get qualified teachers on contract because they do not want to come here just for a year. This has led to an acute shortage of teachers. I am trying my best to change the rule and have published advertisements to hire quality teachers. I want to run this institute on the line of AN Sinha Institute, which is not treated like an extension of the government. Our institute has seen its bad days. It will take time to revamp it.
Is there a lack of transparency as far as admission is concerned in the institute?
I do not agree. The admission procedure is absolutely transparent and it is for everyone to see. We admit students on the basis of principles laid down by All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). The admissions are done according to AICTE rules and regulation and there is no partiality and favouritism. I cannot say what used to happen earlier. But ever since I have taken charge of the institute, the admission procedure is transparent. Students get admission only after they clear interviews and group discussions. Earlier, the chairman of the institute had a say in the admission of 10 seats. But when Nitish Kumar became the chief minister, he eliminated that privilege. Such privileges were there during Lalu Prasad’s time. There was no transparency then. The government allotted funds for the institute only after education minister P.K. Shahi and deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi inspected its functioning. Besides, I strictly follow the reservation policy that is in place for students representing the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, Other Backward Class and Extremely Backward Class.
Why has placement of students from the institute gone down?
There was no placement wing in the institute till 2010. A separate wing was set up in 2011 and we are in the process to regularise its functioning. You cannot expect good number of placement in an institute that was in the dark for almost 20 years. The institute never had a director. It was only recently that we got a director, Kameshwar Mishra, through Bihar Public Service Commission.
What’s the difference between running an institute and running a state?
One is about dealing with academic and other is about politics. I enjoy being an academician. I have to take care of the discipline, placement and teaching quality in the institute. As a politician, I had to take care of law and order, development and administration. When I was the chief minister, I used to interact with people and hold janata darbar every day.
Your relation with Nitish Kumar has been hot and cold. Why?
In 2008, the Kosi Dam was damaged and my region was affected badly. It happened because of the government’s failure. Since I belong to that region, it was obvious that I got upset with Nitish Kumar. That was the only time that my relation with Nitish was not good. However, I have no complaint now because his government rehabilitated and reconstructed the region. At present, there is no issue with him and I truly support him.
What would you have been if not a politician?
As being always interested in reading and writing, I would have been a teacher as I would have spent most of my life writing books.
Vacant posts a concern’
What do you have to say about the claims of development made by the NDA government?
Development has certainly taken place in the state under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. The administration is now functioning and is not static. It was non-functioning during Lalu’s time. Besides, law and order has improved. If you expect a 100 per cent change overnight, that’s not going to happen. People are comparatively happy now and are living a decent life. The government is trying its best to perform better.
But one thing I must say that the situation in the higher education has worsened. Universities are not functioning well. There’s a lack of qualified vice-chancellors and teachers in the universities. Over 7,000 posts are lying vacant in the universities. Recruitment of teachers is not taking place. The higher education sector is suffering because of differences between the Raj Bhavan and the government.
About Jagannath Mishra
Born on June 24, 1937, at Baluia Baazar in Supaul district, Mishra completed schooling from Lalit Narayan Vidya Mandir in 1953. He graduated from TNB College in Bhagalpur district and did his MA in 1960 in economics from LS College, Muzaffarpur. He went on to obtain his PhD in public finance from Bihar University in 1964. He became the MLC from Muzaffarpur-Saran and Champaran graduate constituency in 1968 and MLA from Jhanjhapur in 1972. When Kedar Pandey became the chief minister for the first time in 1972, Mishra became the power corporation minister. He went on to become the chief minister on April 8, 1975 and continued till April 30, 1977. Again on June 8, 1980, he become the chief minister for the second time and remained in the post till August 13, 1983. He become the chief minister for the third time on December, 6 1989 and continued till March 10, 1990. He also served the Union cabinet as the agriculture and the rural development minister in 1995 and 1996, respectively.