Varsity hires by 'mistake', then fires

A postdoctoral researcher who quit his fellowship in Israel to join Kalyani University so that he could be closer to home was told two days after taking up the new assignment that his appointment as an assistant professor was the result of a "mistake" and so his service was being terminated.

By Subhankar Chowdhury and Sanat Kumar Sinha
  • Published 21.07.18
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A JOB DENIED

 

The termination letter issued to Sudipto Mandal by the University 
of Kalyani

 AN ASSIGNMENT LOST

The postdoctoral fellowship offer letter from the The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Kalyani: A postdoctoral researcher who quit his fellowship in Israel to join Kalyani University so that he could be closer to home was told two days after taking up the new assignment that his appointment as an assistant professor was the result of a "mistake" and so his service was being terminated.

Sudipto Mandal, who has a doctorate in microbiology from Calcutta University, had applied for the teaching job at Kalyani University in 2014, but the interview call did not come until this year.

He had become a research fellow at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem by then, although the lure of moving back to Bengal and teaching in the university where he had studied for his master's degree was stronger.

On Sudipto's request, Kalyani University arranged a Skype interview for him from Israel last month.

"I was interviewed by the selection committee on June 27. The appointment letter from the university was delivered at my home address in Asansol on July 6, asking me to join as assistant professor (SC category). I accepted the offer and left my postdoctoral position at the prestigious Hebrew University in a hurry so that I could to return to India. Little did I know that it would culminate in this ignominy," Sudipto recounted.

He had taken up the two-year research assignment in Israel only last November.

Responding to a question from Metro on Sudipto being left in the lurch, Sankar Kumar Ghosh, the vice-chancellor of Kalyani University, said he had been mistakenly appointed in place of someone who shared his surname.

"This was a mistake by the university authorities. The person who had been originally selected also has the surname 'Mandal'. The name of the original appointee is S. Mandal. The error was detected only after Sudipto Mandal joined, leaving us with no option but to terminate his appointment," Ghosh said.

Sources in the university identified the candidate who replaced Sudipto as Supratim Mandal.

Metro has copies of the appointment letter issued by registrar Debansu Ray to Sudipto on July 2, the joining letter he submitted to the university on July 15 and the termination letter he was issued on July 18.

"On July 17, the head of the microbiology department, Samir Mukherjee, introduced me to my fellow teachers. On July 18, I was supposed to teach my first class. Just as I was getting ready, VC Ghosh called me to meet him and said to my face in the presence of the head of the department that my appointment was being cancelled and I would be issued a termination letter," Sudipto said.

"He gave the excuse that the selection committee had picked someone else and the university had mistakenly issued the appointment letter to me."

The termination letter, signed by registrar Ray, states: "I am directed to inform you that due to detection of a mistake caused inadvertently in appointing you to the post of assistant professor (category: SC)... your said appointment, as mentioned above, is terminated... Inconvenience so caused is sincerely regretted. This is being issued with kind concurrence of vice-chancellor."

Sudipto, who has neither the research fellowship to fall back on nor the job he had been offered, said he felt "cheated" by his alma mater. "I am a victim of fraud on the part of the university authorities. I was very happy in doing research there in Israel. Why did the university call me for the job and ruin my career? I feel so ashamed that I am an alumnus of this university. I get very upset at the thought of an educational institute of repute playing with someone's career and life."

On whether he intended to approach The Hebrew University with a request to rejoin the programme he quit, Sudipto said: "I am thinking of doing it. But I know there is no hope. They can't make a position for me just because my appointment has been terminated for some inexplicable reason."