What is wrong with EFLU? Why do students term the administration anti-student and anti-democratic and take to the streets frequently?
I cannot speculate why somebody does that. I have only one thing to say. Everybody has problems, but the institution is larger than anyone of us. If I have stepped in as the senior most professor to take charge, it has only been because I owe that much to this institution. I want this institution to be there for the future. That is the only reason some of us are working here. EFLU has an international character and we represent the country and will continue to do so.
Don’t you think regular protests are having an adverse impact on the university?
We are very proud of the fact that we have kept our academic calendar going. Admissions are on time, results are coming on time, our semester system is intact and this is because of the dedication shown by students and teachers towards academics but what the frequent protests might affect is the brand name of the institution. We still have a brand name. Over a period of time, that brand name will get affected and it will be the students who will suffer.
Did you feel humiliated when students forced you to have mess food the other day? How do you propose to tackle protests?
I don’t have any problem standing in the sun. Students do have a way of reacting, because they are young and their issues strike them as very close to their heart. I don’t support indiscipline, but we have to enter into a process of dialogue and see how they can be made part of the solution rather than the problem. We have been trying on building a better student-administration relationship.
EFLU has been in the news for all the wrong reasons like suicides, sexual exploitation and SC/ST atrocity cases etc. Don’t you think there is a need to have a counselling centre on the campus?
I am not aware of some of these that you are talking about. I was not incharge until November 4 last year. We have a health centre and the health advisory committee is seized of the situation. A counselor did visit us and we are in the process of putting together some kind of a counseling centre here. I agree that there is a need for a regular counselor.
Is the report about CBI findings on financial irregularities in EFLU true?
That is an ongoing inquiry. We certainly have no idea who lodged the complaint. CBI is not obliged to tell the administration the source of the complaint. As far as I know, the investigation has been going on since October 2011 and they are still in the process. The students seem to believe that the inquiry is over and that the administration has to take action, which is not true. Our role is only to provide whatever files, information, and records they ask for. So many reports are appearing in newspapers about us which are not authenticated.
What do you have to say about the allegation that some of the executive council members are ineligible?
I must reiterate that in the meeting that we had with the heads and deans of schools attended by 31 of them at short notice, it was affirmed that the EC was lawfully constituted and that this is not a matter within the purview of the students. The allegation that an EC member should not be part of more than one committee is untrue. Where is that rule? Sanjeeva Reddy and Kishan Rao are visitor’s nominees according to Sec 11(x). The visitor is President Pratibha Patil. Four persons with distinction in academic or public life can be nominated.
Is it true that a student was rusticated without inquiry for allegedly assaulting a professor?
The allegation of rustication of a student without inquiry is false. The fact is an enquiry committee was set up and on the basis of the documents submitted, it arrived at a conclusion. There were letters of complaint received from the faculty member who was assaulted and from the department. There was this set of documents available. The enquiry committee was constituted by the previous VC. That committee also arrived at a conclusion which was rustication, which I understand is the standard kind of punishment for assaulting a teacher. In the meantime, there was a change of administration. At that time, the administration was told that it goes against the spirit of natural justice if the person who is accused has not been given a chance to represent his case to the committee. So, keeping that in mind, the new committee was constituted. It has had a series of meetings with the people concerned and its report is awaited.
Is there any truth in the allegation that Prof Ravindra Vemula had forged certificates to get the job in EFLU?
The forgery allegation was made by the students post-assault. Therefore, a departmental enquiry into that issue has been instituted.
Students claim that hostel facilities are poor and that the campus is overcrowded and also that fire safety norms are not adhered to in hostels?
I have visited the hostels. About the norms being not followed, there is an inquiry into it as well. Let me add to it, this is not a residential university. During admissions, we keep telling them that we don’t have enough hostel facilities. But the fact is, once they join, they want to stay on campus. We succumb to that pressure and therefore, there is overcrowding on campus. I have also sent a notification to my administration that these hostels should be evaluated for fire safety norms. Administration is also a little overworked. They are attending to each of our demands.
The other allegation levelled by the students is that funds meant for a boundary wall around the Pochampally campus have been misappropriated?
Has there been any construction of any wall around the proposed campus? I don’t think there is any such concrete proposal. There is a budget allotted by the government for the development of that campus. Of course, there is an administrative need to spend that money before the end of the financial year. That does not mean that a proposal has been received to construct a wall around the campus for `10cr! These are simply imagined.
What is the present state of affairs with Prof Rajat Kumar Mohanty who allegedly molested a student?
Prof Rajat Kumar Mohanty was here as a visiting faculty. Immediately after the incident happened, his contract was terminated. There is a police case against him but it is not by the university but the person concerned.
Is it true that a few courses were dropped without even considering at the EC meeting?
We follow a cafeteria system of courses where a student can choose the courses he/she wants to take. We have an academic council which had not met last year and which met only this January. For the forthcoming year, all the courses that we offer including intake is passed by the academic council. If at all some courses may not have been run, it could be because of lack of faculty.
Is it true that the university is trying to promote a particular private hospital because some of the EC members have a stake in it?
We have a list of empaneled hospitals given to us by the government following the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) norms. The university has nothing to do with the list. From among the list, if the student prefers to go to any particular hospital, we never say no. We have no stake in sending the student to one or the other hospital..
Why is there a delay in development of Pochampally campus?
We have now constituted a core committee to look into the possibilities and potential of development of the land at Pochampally. I am only incharge Vice-Chancellor. The committee has come up with some proposals. Of course, not having a regular VC is a cause for a lot of problems. But the government is on the job and it is not easy finding a VC.