Recruitment row at JU - Head of geology department resigns over political bias

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 27.10.09
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A senior professor of Jadavpur University resigned from the post of head of the department last week to protest the “politically biased” recruitment process — a bane of Bengal’s education system in the three decades of Left rule.

Though mum was the word from the authorities, the JU campus was abuzz on Monday with murmurs of how merit had been overlooked during the recruitment of a professor and a lecturer in the geological sciences department.

“I tendered my resignation as head of the department last Friday, the day after the selection committee held the interviews to fill up the posts for a lecturer and a professor,” Pulak Sengupta told Metro on Monday afternoon.

Political interference in recruitment at institutes of higher learning is nothing new in Bengal as key appointments in colleges and universities are invariably political in nature with Alimuddin Street calling the shots.

“Education czars like Anil Biswas wanted their men at the helm of affairs in all key institutes. Though Biswas is no more, the legacy continues,” said a retired CU professor.

Sengupta seems to be the latest victim of that, having resigned six days after he took over as the head of the geological sciences department.

JU vice-chancellor P.N. Ghosh declined to comment on the matter, but sources close to Sengupta said resigning was his “only option” after being slighted during the recruitment process.

“The majority in the selection committee left out a meritorious candidate and chose someone else as a professor just because he has strong CPM connections. They also ignored a bright candidate for the post of lecturer and concluded that nobody was fit for recruitment,” said the source.

The executive council — the highest decision making body at JU — will have to ratify the committee’s decision, a mere formality, before its recommendations are adopted.

Sengupta’s views, which were endorsed by another panel member from a premier academic institute, were not even considered during the decision-making process, alleged the source. Besides the vice-chancellor and the head of the department, the committee had subject experts from IIT Kharagpur, Calcutta University and Presidency College.

There were two candidates for the post of professor, both working as readers in the university, while 16 candidates had applied for the post of lecturer. “Being the head of the department, Sengupta should definitely have had a say in the process. He wanted to give a note of dissent after the committee members arrived at their decision by using the majority clause, but he could not do so under pressure from the authorities,” said an official.

An alumnus of the geology department told Metro that the recruitment controversy would affect Brand JU. “But the ruling party has never bothered about the brand image or academic standards in institutes of higher learning as long as it can call the shots on campus,” said the alumnus.