Officials quit Nalanda, cloud on campus work pace

Unhappy with lack of 'freedom to function', administrative head & chief engineer leave university

By Chandan Chatterjee and Roshan Kumar
  • Published 14.02.15
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Sridhar VK

The administrative head of Nalanda University and its chief engineer relinquished their posts in the last week of January while the varsity has set the ball rolling to appoint two directors in Delhi amid a debate on the pace of development of the prestigious seat of learning.

Sridhar V.K., the administrative head, put in his papers barely two weeks after the board meeting of the university on January 13 and 14. He has gone back to his Kochi home. The varsity's chief engineer, Colonel M.K. Prasad, has returned to his military assignment and is said to be in Jodhpur.

Sridhar said he had decided to put in his papers because he allegedly did not have the freedom to function. "Those associated with the university before me used to interfere in my domain of functioning. They even tried to overrule my decisions despite not having the right to do so."

Taking a dig at vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal, Sridhar said: "She wants to run the university in her own way, defying professionalism. After working so many years in professional institutions, I could not take it and decided to resign."

Sridhar has the experience of working in IIT-Mumbai. He also played a key role in successfully setting up the Central University of Tamil Nadu.

Repeated attempts to contact Colonel Prasad went in vain but a source in the varsity said he was also dissatisfied with "Sabharwal's style of functioning".

Vice-chancellor Sabharwal appeared unfazed by the criticism. "Resignations and recruitments are part of life in any professional facility. Sridhar is a retired person. He could not adjust to the work culture of Nalanda University. So he left," she said.

The exit of the two senior officials of the varsity, which started its journey last September, has cast a shadow on the pace of development of the university's new campus on a 452-acre plot, barely 2km from Rajgir bus stand.

Gopa Sabharwal 

A student of Nalanda University, requesting anonymity, said: "Sridhar was a dynamic person and started our canteen and library in no time. The varsity will miss his presence on every development step, as some of us are."

NIT director Asok De said the departure of key officials always has a bearing on the projects, especially in new institutions. "If key persons leave an institution, its progress is bound to suffer."

VC Sabharwal said the varsity had invited applications for 17 posts last week. Of them, there are positions of director (admission) and director (communication) who would be stationed in Delhi.

Justifying the move to post the two directors in Delhi, the vice-chancellor said: "Delhi figures in the world academic calendar but Rajgir does not. The presence of the two directors in the national capital will help us communicate with the people world over better. We have to run Nalanda University with global vision and the appointments in Delhi are a part of it."

Patna College principal N.K. Chaudhary did not find logic in posting senior officials in Delhi while the university is functioning out of Rajgir, around 110km southeast of Patna. "The people holding the decisive posts in Nalanda University want to run it as the British ruled India sitting in Britain. They want to remote-control the institution from Delhi and promote VIP culture, defying the spirit with which the new seat of learning was set up."