Mentors grab more power in Nalanda board - The New Indian Express

Mentors grab more power in Nalanda board

Published: 27th Oct 2013 08:55:16 AM

After financial autonomy, administrative muscle-flexing. An amended Nalanda University Bill, prepared in August 2013 and expected to be presented during the Winter Session of Parliament, seeks to tilt the numbers in favour of the vice-chancellor with its proposal to enhance the strength of the governing board of the Rs 1,500 crore varsity from 14 to 18, made up mainly of hand-picked nominees.

Gopa Sabharwal
According to the original bill enacted in 2010, the number of government representatives on the board was to be more than those selected by the V-C. But the amended version turns the original plan on its head. More ominously, the criteria of selecting outsiders to the board have been diluted from “academic excellence” to “person of eminence”.

The governing board is the highest decision-making body of the proposed university and responsible for formulating all policies and directions of the institution and management of its affairs. Economist Amartya Sen is the Chancellor while Gopa Sabharwal was appointed Vice Chancellor by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2010. The Nalanda Mentor Group assumed the power and function of the governing board and its term has already been extended twice. The current tenure of the board will expire on November 24, but according to sources, it will be given another extension.

According to information accessed by The Sunday Standard, the Secretary (East) from the Ministry of External Affairs will cease to be the governing board’s member-secretary. In a move that the government claims will provide further autonomy to the university, the bureaucrat’s position will be taken by the registrar of the university, who will be hand-picked by the board.

Amartya Sen
Five persons of “eminence” will also come on board with the blessings of the governing board. In the original act, “three members from amongst the persons being renowned academician or educationist were proposed on the recommendation of the central government.” Two other members will be picked up by the VC from the existing faculty.

“This is an attempt to monopolise and extend all powers into the hands of the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor,” a source said.

According to the amended rules, the government representation would be kept at a minimum—two out of 18 members—just to keep the taxpayers’ money flowing in. The government representative will be the Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs dealing with East Asian countries and an additional secretary of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

“This is being done to enhance the autonomy in the governing board’s decision-making. Minimum representation of the central government is necessary because it is the Centre which is providing money to build the university,” a source said.

Interestingly, to project the autonomous character of the institution, the term “non-state” was introduced in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Nalanda which was signed with 7 countries on October 10. It says: “An international institution known as Nalanda University, which will be a non-state, non-profit, self-governing international institution is established to achieve the purposes set forth in this MoU and it will have full academic freedom for the attainment of its objectives.”

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