Random is the rule in Sen's Nalanda - The New Indian Express

Random is the rule in Sen's Nalanda

Published: 05th August 2013 08:46 AM

Last Updated: 05th August 2013 08:46 AM

The embryonic Nalanda University, the brainchild of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, its Chancellor Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and the UPA is in a class of its own.

The Rs 1,005 crore university, which is to at last begin functioning by December this year after many false starts, has no office buildings or classrooms.

Yet, it has not prevented its management and faculty members from living the good life: they are exempted from paying income tax and enjoy financial autonomy, even if they are Indian citizens.

An agreement, signed between the governing board chairman Amartya Sen and former foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, grants the university staff the right to import personal items, including vehicles, free of customs duties and levies.

Glasnost is not Nalanda’s driving philosophy — the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India will not be allowed to question financial decisions taken by the university board after auditing the books.

Amartya Sen, along with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, were present at the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office on February 15, 2012, where the decision was made. “In so far as the ongoing audit of CAG of the university is concerned, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) will at the earliest write to the CAG clarifying that as per the act, the Governing Board has the full authority to take the decisions that it did and that the board acted within the powers enjoyed by it under the act,” said a PMO note on the subject.

The university is run without the approval of the Finance Ministry, and neither has the MEA, which administrates it, submitted an appraisal to the ministry. 

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