THE UNIVERSITY Grants Commission disbanded its first committee to draft qualification regulations for appointment of teachers in higher education because the government had misgivings about the head of the panel, Varun Sahni, who was a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, a source who did not wish to be identified has said.
On July 21, the UGC set up a seven-member committee, headed by Goa University Vice-Chancellor Varun Sahni, to draft regulations on the minimum qualifications for appointment of teachers and academic staff in universities and colleges.
Two weeks later, on August 3, the UGC set up another panel with the same terms of reference but with Professor Sunil Kumar Gupta, former V-C of Himachal Pradesh University, as chairperson. The circular was silent on the fate of the previous panel headed by Sahni. A source told The Indian Express: “The government had misgivings about the political leanings of professor Sahni.”
Before becoming Goa University V-C, Sahni was a professor of international politics at JNU, where he had served as chairperson of the Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament and director of the International Collaboration Office. He is now on deputation leave from JNU.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Sahni confirmed that the committee he was appointed to head had been scrapped by the UGC without any reason attributed to the move.
“Regarding your question, the secretary, UGC, spoke to me on August 3 and indicated that I no longer needed to block off a large chunk of my agenda for August 2017. That’s all there is to it,” Sahni said in an email to The Indian Express. When contacted, UGC’s acting chairman V S Chauhan asked this reporter to speak to commission secretary Jaspal Singh Sandhu. The latter did not respond to calls.
Although Sandhu is learnt to have communicated the decision of disbanding the first committee to Sahni, most of the other members of the panel said they were not informed. “This is unprofessional. To first set up a committee, scrap it and not even inform members of the decision,” said one of the panel members.
Former V-C of Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology Professor S S Chahal, Jadavpur University V-C Suranjan Das and former JNU registrar K P S Unny were among the seven members of the committee. R C Kuhad, head of Haryana Central University, is the only member common in the two panels.