A 92-year-old former student of engineering at Jadavpur University, who lives in the Bay Area in San Francisco, US, recently posted an appeal on Facebook for funds for his alma mater after he came to know from newspaper reports about the university’s financial hardship.
Ramen Chakrabarti, who had graduated in 1954 from the JU’s department of mechanical engineering, said in his post that he was pained to know that the university did not have the money for the maintenance of its laboratories.
His appeal, which was posted on the Facebook page of the Global Jadavpur University Alumni Foundation on October 23, says: “I read in the newspaper that Jadavpur University cannot have money for laboratory and all these. They can only pay for the salary of their teachers. When I see that Jadavpur University is facing a financial problem, I feel like crying.
“Why it should be like that? There are so many students who are spread all over the world, those who have made an enormous amount of money. So my request to every Jadavpur University student will be to give money, to contribute to Jadavpur University because this is one of the best universities I have seen in the world. Give, give, give because they have given you their best.”
JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said: “We are touched by the gesture from former students like Ramen Chakrabarti. I have already appealed to the foundation for help. Reaching out to alumni across the globe for funds is fast becoming a model.”
The California-based foundation had in July given a call to raise money because of the financial distress the university was facing, following which it had to impose “a general embargo on spending” in all departments.
Srijoy Aditya, who is associated with the foundation, said they went to Chakrabarti’s residence and shot the video after he contacted the foundation.
“An emotional appeal of this kind is expected to give an added impetus to the fund-raising drive the foundation has started,” he told The Telegraph. This newspaper had on October 13 reported that the JU court, the highest decision-making body of the university, had requested VC Das to write to the state government about the institution’s poor financial health because of depleting contributions from the state.
The university’s finance officer had written in its first newsletter in September that JU was facing an acute dearth of resources and facilities for academic development and the only option left for “resource generation” was increasing the fees.
“If this scenario continues, then a day will come when we can’t go for any upgradation/or purchase of new equipment,” finance officer Gour Krishna Pattanayak had written. A JU official said they were not sure whether they could take any bold steps like raising fees and were increasingly tapping the alumni for resources.
“We are in touch with the foundation. We feel the contribution from the foundation and any other alumnus will help the university tide over the financial crisis,” the official said.
The university has set up a committee to look into the “huge gap” in its income and expenditure and suggest measures to generate resources.
"I look at the US and notice that ex-students of universities here make enough contributions to make their universities the best. The IITs have produced many successful engineers and they also make large contributions to their institutions. The Jadavpur alumni should do the same. It has also produced many successful engineers with the best education at a very low cost for the students. They should all pay their respect and love when the university needs the same," Chakrabarti said.