The recent appointment of the Vice Chancellor to the reputed Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) has sparked off a debate in Karnataka on the process of appointments of VCs by the state government.
The BJP government had to face flak from academicians who alleged that all the three candidates finalised by a panel faced various allegations and demanded the withdrawal of all three names.
However, inspite of the opposition, the panel sent the three names — Anand Deshapande, registrar of VTU, M.N. Vidyashankar, Vice Chancellor of Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), and Gopal Mugeraya, Director, National Institute of Technology, Goa — to the Governor.
Activists alleged that one of the candidates faced a police investigation, another was barred by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the third was accused of illegalities.
They said that the Governor should get details of the finalised candidates as their appointment would lead to a huge controversy. However, M N Vidyashankar was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the VTU.
Talking about the controversy, retired professor Dr B P Maheshchandra Guru told IANS that presently the capitation lobby is ready to sponsor probable Vice Chancellor candidates.
He said there is no consideration for merit, ethics and UGC norms. If appointments are made as per the UGC norms and guidelines there will not be any problem.
Attempts are made for the appointment of their own candidates by vested interests. Such cases have come before the courts. Once the directions are given by the courts, the Governors will have to remove them. That is what happened in Kerala. “We have to congratulate the Kerala Governor for taking the bold step,” he said.
Guru added that those candidates who became VC through violation of guidelines, should be uncovered and thrown out. There should be PILs filed in the High Courts and the Supreme Court seeking quashing of their appointments.
When late Hansraj Bharadwaj was the Governor of Karnataka, the appointment of VCs was done as per whims and fancies. No one knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court and the VCs completed their tenures, he claimed.
Now, the appointment of the VC to the VTU has turned into a controversy. “Presently there are vice chancellors who were suspended many times and appointed before being exonerated by the government. They are heading prestigious institutions and once they are questioned in the court, their appointment will also stand quashed,’ he said.
There are also allegations of money changing hands in the recent appointments of VCs in Karnataka. The new trend is, there are sponsors for the VC candidates. The religious organisations in the state who run educational institutions sponsor them to get their work done, Guru stated.
Similarly, a candidate who has not even done MA in Sanskrit has become Vice Chancellor for the Sanskrit University in the state. Highly objectionable appointments are being made in certain universities where the VC does not have the required specialisation, he alleged.
Senior academician V P Niranjan Aradhya told IANS that “we are witnessing politicisation of all sections in this phase. The party loyalists are becoming Vice Chancellors.”
Presently, a search committee is formed, it proposes three candidates and the Governor selects one of them for the post of VC. People say big money is exchanged for syndicate and senate membership, he said.
“According to my experience of more than four decades in academics, I think that the mistake is happening in the process of submission of applications for the post of Vice-Chancellors. Politics starts as soon as the application is filed,” he stated.
“Instead of the process of filing applications, the search committee should have complete freedom to search without application for the best of the best.
“I have suggested this for the best teachers’ award as well. Because, when an application is filed, the candidate will start documentation for 10 years. We don’t want a ‘documents VC’. The excellent work on the ground has to be the real criterion,” Aradhya stated.
For a dean there is an opportunity to show his capabilities in teaching, administration and innovation. As an administrator he has to ensure democracy and decentralization, his expertise in his subject and has he been able to bring some innovation, these factors have to be considered while appointing candidates to the post of Vice Chancellors, he opined.
The search committee members should be independent and honest who don’t give in to influence, pulls and pressures. The committee formed for the selection of VCs should be on the lines of the collegium in the High Courts and Supreme Court, he suggested.