KOCHI: Though several ‘research chairs’ have been constituted in universities in the State, in honour of prominent personalities, most of them have become dysfunctional.
While some ‘Chairs’ host 1-2 seminars annually, the remaining ones have become completely irrelevant over the years. Most of the research Chairs were set up in honour of famous personalities who have contributed to society. Such Chairs also aim at propagating the philosophies of the persons associated with them, besides facilitating research in the related areas.
The Dr B R Ambedkar Chair, constituted by the MG University on January 8, 1997, to disseminate the ideas and thoughts of Ambedkar, has now been reduced to a ‘dummy’ Chair, according office-bearers of an employees’ union at the university. “A number of similar Chairs, most of which set up nearly a decade ago, have become defunct at the MG University. With the exception of a few Chairs like the Kansas Poets Chair, most of them are not functioning properly.
Though these Chairs were set up to facilitate research, and to bring out papers on the philosophies and the lives of the famous personalities, nothing solid is happening here,” said a senior member of the university senate.
The condition of the Dr Paulose Mar Gregorious Chair is also the same, which was constituted in the same year as that of the B R Ambedkar Chair. The Dr Paulose Mar Gregorious Chair was instituted to commemorate the bishop who was the metropolitan of the Delhi diocese of the Orthodox Syrian church for over two decades.
The G Sankara Kurup Chair, I C Chacko Chair, Pala Narayana Nair Chair and the Konkani Chair have also become nearly defunct. The G Sankara Kurup Chair at the MG University, which was launched along with the C H Mohammed Koya Chair, has also gone into oblivion.
However, there are certain Chairs that function exemplarily, such as the Kansas Poets Chair, which holds programmes very effectively. Similarly, the V R Krishna Iyer Chair for Human Rights at the School of Legal Studies at the Cusat has failed to achieve the purpose for which it was constituted. As much as `83 crore was sanctioned as grant for the project, the purpose of which was to conduct research on the eminent jurist’s contributions. However, no project has taken place so far at the Chair. Though is was constituted with the purpose of publishing at least five research papers under the title ‘Justice V R Krishna Iyer Chair Research Papers on Human Rights’ not a single paper has been produced so far. Officials associated with the Chair said that lack of funds had halted the progress of research under the V R Krishna Iyer Chair.
“We have been forced to change the structure of our plan for the Chair, and are now hoping to fund scholarships with the money available with us,” said an official.
The Chairs in the name of Sukumar Azhikode and L M Pylee at the Cusat have also met with the same fate.
The Intellectual Property Rights Studies Chair constituted under the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2006 has also become defunct, owing to vendettas within the Cusat Syndicate.
While the majority of the Chairs have been set up by the universities themselves, some of them were constituted directly by the government with the aim of mobilising research and disseminating the thoughts of the personalities under whose name the Chair was constituted.
Though most of the Chairs were set up spending huge amounts most of them do not even organise programmes, let alone conducting research in areas applicable to the particular Chair,” said a member of an employees’ union at Kerala University, which has also constituted several prominent Chairs over the years.
Speaking on the issue, university officials said that often lack of government support, change in government policies and lack of interest from individuals who replace the existing heads of the Chairs result in the Chairs moving into oblivion.