Days after Nalanda University Chancellor George Yeo quit over not being consulted about the dissolution of the governing board, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that the government has “great respect” for Yeo, but it was the first time that the University was in “full compliance with the legal regime” under which it was created.
Yeo resigned last Friday, saying that when he was invited to take charge he was “repeatedly assured that the university would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now”.
He had resigned days after the government had dropped Nobel laureate Amartya Sen from the board, ending his nine-year association with the university. Others who were dropped included Harvard University professor Sugata Bose and UK-based economist Lord Meghnad Desai.
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“We have great respect for Mr George Yeo, and for his contributions to Nalanda University. However, these decisions were taken so that for the first time, the University would be in full compliance with the legal regime under which it was created,” the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Yeo had protested the manner in which the governing board was constituted without taking him into confidence.
“This is for the first time governing body has been constituted as provided for in the Act. Before this, it was an ad hoc arrangement. So if we bring legality to a set-up and that legality is in accordance with the law as passed by Parliament, I do not think how anybody can have any issues with it,” Swarup said.
Giving the entire sequence of events, the MEA spokesperson said that on November 21, the President of India, in his capacity as the Visitor of the Nalanda University approved the constitution of the Governing Board of the University in accordance with section 7 of the Nalanda University Act, 2010.
“Let me emphasise that this is the first time since the Act was passed that a Governing Board has been properly constituted as per its provisions,” Swarup added.
Swarup said the Nalanda Mentor Group had been functioning for nine years and as the Nalanda Act provided for three year tenure for members, it was decided to constitute the Board in accordance with the Act.
He also said that the President has also approved that upon completion of the extended term of the current Vice Chancellor, which expired on November 24, and in the absence of a new Vice Chancellor being appointed on or before November 25, the senior-most Dean may be temporarily appointed to discharge the duties of the Vice Chancellor. “This will be a stop-gap measure until the new Vice Chancellor is appointed,” he said.