Dons in the dock
A prestigious international university, inspired by a popular former president to be set up at a budget of Rs 1,005 crore near Rajgir, Bihar, under the Ministry of External Affairs. A powerful Nobel laureate on the board of the governing body. A reader appointed as the Vice Chancellor (VC) by the MEA, bypassing rules and eligibility at a salary of Rs 5,06 lakh a month—the highest paid VC in the country. An office set up at government expense in Delhi, some 1,100 km away from the university campus in Bihar, because the VC and her highly paid ADC and former associate (Rs 3.3 lakh a month) don’t like the toilets in Rajgir. The VC took a salary cut after questions were raised on why she should be paid almost twice the salary of the Delhi University vice chancellor. Upinder Singh, the daughter of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and professor Nayanjot Lahiri represent India in this international University that has 16 ASEAN countries like China, Japan, Australia, Korea and Thailand as participating members.
The UPA government has so far spent Rs 2.11 crore just on meetings held by the ‘mentor group’ set up under the chairmanship of Professor Amartya Sen in Singapore, Tokyo, New York, Delhi and Gaya.
Recommendation Without Authorisation: The prestigious project, yet to take off, has been marred by irregularities and nepotism. In the centre of the storm is the newly appointed Vice Chancellor, Dr Gopa Sabharwal. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, chairman of the Interim Governing Board of Nalanda University and Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG), had recommended her as one of the three candidates. Prof. Sen, in his letter on February 6, 2009 to the then External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee says ‘it has been a difficult choice’ (selecting a Rector).