Seats of skulduggery

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From tainted academicians locked in ego battles, bribes, blocked seats and leaked question papers, to lack of proper infrastructure, the State’s prestigious universities have seen it all. But neither the Governor, who is the pro-chancellor of universities, nor the government, seem interested in stemming the downslide. It required the High Court’s intervention, which set aside the appointment of Prof. B.C. Mylarappa as registrar of Bangalore University and stopped the tainted VTU V-C Dr. H. Maheshappa from taking any important decisions pending an inquiry into his qualifications, to prevent further rot of the education system. Shrinivasa M. reports.

Top universities of the state have never been short of controversies, riddled as they are with marks’ scams and seat blocking rackets and their top officers barely concealing their attempts to pull the rug from under each other. But even so, things reached a new low last week when the High Court set aside the appointment of Prof. B.C. Mylarappa as registrar of Bangalore University (BU) and on Tuesday, stopped the vice chancellor of the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), Dr. H Maheshappa, from taking important decisions pending an inquiry into his qualifications for the job.

The fact that top appointments to the universities have come under a cloud is embarrassing for the state government, as under the state universities act, the Governor is the chancellor of all universities and the higher education minister, their pro-chancellor. While the vice chancellor of every university is handpicked by the Governor, the state government appoints the registrars. “There was no dearth of eligible candidates for the posts of VC and registrars.

There are tens of thousands of professors of international repute with the required administrative skills at Bangalore University. But the state government overlooked them all while appointing Prof. Mylarappa as registrar. And although there was an opportunity to appoint a professor of international repute as VC of VTU to make it globally competitive, no one knows why the Governor chose Dr. Maheshappa. Also, when documents, suggesting deliberate concealing of information were accessed through Right to Information (RTI) from Raj Bhavan, no action was taken against him,’’ says a BU professor.

Academicians find it hard to understand why neither the higher education department nor the Governor, as chancellor of the university, raised a red flag on the appointment of Prof. Mylarappa as registrar, even when charges of plagiarism and misuse of funds levelled against him were established in an in-house investigation carried out by the university a few years ago and the report was available both in public domain and to them.

They point out that charges of misleading the Governor’s office with wrong information in his resume have followed Dr. Maheshappa ever since he took over as vice chancellor of the VTU three years ago. In January this year his counsel even admitted before the division bench of the high court that he had submitted incorrect information regarding his academic qualifications during the selection process.

An inquiry commission was appointed in February to look into the charges against him on the high court’s directions, but nothing came of its report with the higher education department passing the buck to the Raj Bhavan, saying only the Governor’s office could act on it, making the whole affair even more puzzling.

‘caste and money overtake academic credentials today’

The race has begun for the posts of vice chancellors of Bangalore and Mysore universities with academicians lobbying for them talking more about their caste and money power than their academic credentials or administrative skills, say sources.

A V-C post aspirant who is trying to follow the more narrow and straight path to fulfill his ambition says he is stunned by the tactics adopted by some of the academicians to reach their goals. “The lobbying begins right from the four member search committee which recommends three names for the VC’s post to the Governor, who then picks one of them. The aspiring candidate has to therefore ensure that one of the members on the committee proposes his name,” he explains.

“I have seen people meeting politicians of their caste to carry influence. Such things happen openly, but no one has the courage to expose any of this as they are afraid of getting hurt in the process,”
he adds.

Another aspirant for the VC’s post says it is high time total transparency was brought into the whole process. “While shortlisting the names, members should explain why these candidates are deserving of the post. Transparency should be binding even on the Governor’s office,” he feels.

GUEST COLUMN

Prof. Sandeep Shastri academician

Problems start in an institute when things become politicised as then decisions are not based purely on academic requirements and other factors triumph. Once politics enters an institute the whole system collapses. And so its essential to keep it out.

When we select heads of institutes we must ensure that only academic excellence and administrative skills are considered. Social justice should also be given priority in countries like India, but no other factor should be taken into account while making appointments. If we follow this criteria then all universities will function under good heads. We need academicians who can bring name and fame to a university, but today its just the opposite, with personalities becoming famous because of the institutions they head. This is not the way it should be.

The VCs of universities should inspire students and the academic fraternity. They must have credibility and lead the students towards excellence.

We should keep this in mind while taking decisions when making
appointments in future.

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