P Sathasivam: A Governor who did justice to his Chancellor role

As he leaves office on Wednesday, academics say the numerous interventions Sathasivam made in the higher education sector over the past five years are unprecedented in the state’s history. 

Published: 04th September 2019 05:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2019 05:55 AM   |  A+A-

Governor P Sathasivam, who demits office on Wednesday, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Secretary Tom Jose at the state government’s farewell function held on Tuesday | EXPRESS

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It won’t be too far fetched to say that the role of a Governor as Chancellor of state universities was realised to its full potential after former Chief Justice P Sathasivam assumed the gubernatorial post. As he leaves office on Wednesday, academics say the numerous interventions Sathasivam made in the higher education sector over the past five years are unprecedented in the state’s history. 

Be it weeding out nepotism and political interference in the appointment of Vice-Chancellors to pulling up university administrators for various lapses, Sathasivam ensured that the state’s higher education system was cleansed of the rot that had set in for the past many years. 

The annual Chancellor’s award, which carried a purse of H5 crore, was Sathasivam’s brainchild to encourage healthy competition among state varsities. Sathasivam’s intervention was also seen recently when violence in University College also exposed glaring lapses in Kerala University’s examination process. 
“Sathasivam not only took independent decisions but also ensured that his academic interventions were judicious,” said Cyriac Thomas, former Vice-Chancellor of MG University. 
 
Political controversies
Immediately after his appointment in 2014, Sathasivam earned the displeasure of the then UDF Government by convening a meeting of Vice-Chancellors and announcing plans to set up a Chancellors Council to improve the quality of higher education.   

When the murder of an RSS man in 2017 resulted in a fresh spate of violence in Kannur, the Governor firmly reminded Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of his duty to ensure law and order. Last year, Sathasivam skipped many portions in his policy address, prepared by the LDF Government, which were highly critical of the BJP-led Union Government.Ironically, the BJP state unit was not quite pleased with the Governor. His intervention during the CPM-BJP violence in Kannur was not on the BJP’s expected lines and the party did make its displeasure public. The fag end of Sathasivam’s tenure was marked by another controversy when he refused to blindly endorse the list of LDF Government nominees to the Kerala University Syndicate.  

‘People’s Governor’

For the staff at Raj Bhavan, Sathasivam was the ‘people’s Governor’ who always found time to meet people and listen to their grievances. Sathasivam was also the Governor who attended the maximum number of public functions. “A man of simplicity, he shunned extravagant celebrations and used to contribute an amount from his salary to an NGO every year on his birthday,” remembers Jaya P Nair, former Comptroller, Raj Bhavan.

New Governor likely to be sworn in on Friday
T’Puram: Governor-designate Arif Mohammad Khan will arrive in the state on Thursday and is likely to be sworn in on Friday, Raj Bhavan sources said. Outgoing Governor P Sathasivam will demit office on Wednesday after a farewell function at the Raj Bhavan in the morning. He was accorded a send-off by the state government on Tuesday evening. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala were present at the function.

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