The higher education bazaar in Tamil Nadu plumbed new depths when Coimbatore-based Bharathiar University’s Vice-Chancellor A Ganapathi (67) was caught red-handed while accepting Rs 30 lakh from an assistant professor on probation for regularising him. He fell into a trap laid by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption after assistant professor T Suresh lodged a complaint saying Ganapathi had been pestering him for a bribe. Suresh named two other faculty heads as accomplices, one of whom is already under arrest.
Ganapathi was clearly a marked man, as months after taking office in 2016, he defied an order from the state higher education ministry to call off a Syndicate meeting that was to take a call on the appointment of 80 faculty members following allegations of large-scale corruption. Feigning ignorance of the ministry’s missive, he convened the Syndicate meeting and ratified the appointments, and made the then university registrar-in-charge P S Mohan the fall guy.
Shocked at the brazenness with which Ganapathi went about it, the higher education department ordered an internal probe and let the DVAC go after him. Ganapathi has now earned the ignominy of being the first serving V-C in TN to be arrested for corruption. Way back in 2009, the then V-C of Anna University of Technology, Coimbatore, R Radhakrishnan was placed under suspension on graft charges and arrested in 2016 after a trial court convicted him. A few other former V-Cs, too, have faced DVAC probes.
The Bharathiar University episode is yet another reminder of the deep rot in the system where money, not merit, becomes the decisive factor, and where political leanings count. Such heads of institutions are a blot on education. Ganapathi’s profile on the University’s website says he mentored 32 PhD and 42 MPhil scholars, published 146 research articles in international biotechnology journals and reviewed research articles. One hopes at least his academic pursuits were honest.