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Visva Bharati V-C appointment: HRD Ministry asks President Kovind to withdraw his assent, scrap panel of names

Late last year, The Indian Express has learnt, Rashtrapati Bhavan had received a panel of three names from the HRD Ministry for the post of new Vice-Chancellor (V-C) of Visva Bharati University in Santiniketan — the President is its Visitor and the Prime Minister its Chancellor.

Written by Ritika Chopra , Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: February 15, 2018 10:17 am
Visva Bharati V-C appointment: HRD Ministry asks President Kovind to withdraw his assent, scrap panel of names Visva Bharati campus: The only Central university to have Prime Minister as Chancellor; President is Visitor. (Express Photo: Partha Paul)

In an unprecedented move, the Human Resource Development Ministry is said to have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to reconsider his assent to a key appointment.

Late last year, The Indian Express has learnt, Rashtrapati Bhavan had received a panel of three names from the HRD Ministry for the post of new Vice-Chancellor (V-C) of Visva Bharati University in Santiniketan — the President is its Visitor and the Prime Minister its Chancellor.

The panel suggested the following names: Swapan Kumar Dutta, then the Acting V-C of the university and an agricultural scientist; P N Mishra of the Institute of Management Studies at Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya (DAVV) in Indore; and, Sankar Kumar Nath of the geophysics and geology department at IIT Kharagpur.

Late January, President Kovind, university sources said, gave his assent to appoint Dutta as the V-C.

Curiously, the official order was not issued. Dutta, who served as Acting V-C for close to two years, retired last month.

Instead, Rashtrapati Bhawan received a note from HRD Ministry requesting Kovind to reconsider his assent and let the Ministry scrap the earlier panel and send a fresh one.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar was not available for comment.

Higher Education Secretary K K Sharma and Additional Secretary Sukhbir Singh Sandhu did not respond to calls and text messages. The President’s press secretary, Ashok Malik, declined to comment.

Although the request to scrap a panel for the V-C’s post is not unusual, this is the first time such a proposal has been received by the President’s office after the appointment of a candidate has already been approved.

The only example closest to Dutta’s case is that of scientist Anil Kakodkar, whose appointment as chairman of IIT-Roorkee was approved by Rashtrapati Bhawan in July 2017. Until date, the ministry hasn’t issued formal orders notifying the appointment.

Interestingly, neither has the government approached the President’s office to reconsider the decision, as it did in Dutta’s case.

Dutta was given the responsibility to act as the head of Visva-Bharati in February 2016 right after the regular V-C Sushanta Dattagupta was sacked by the HRD Ministry, then under Smriti Irani, for alleged administrative irregularities. This was the first time the head of a central university was fired by the government.

Dutta’s time as Acting V-C was eventful with teachers often protesting his decisions. The last agitation happened in January this year with two sections of teachers writing separately to the HRD Ministry, one demanding that Dutta be made permanent V-C and the other seeking the appointment of a new head.

Visva Bharati is the only Central university with the Prime Minister as its Chancellor. The institution was founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and its alumni list includes filmmaker Satyajit Ray and economist Amartya Sen.

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  1. V
    VINOD
    Feb 16, 2018 at 6:24 am
    HRD ministry? Oh yes ...we all know what it does. It is creating a new history.
    (0)(1)
    Reply
    1. manindra nath pal
      Feb 15, 2018 at 3:23 pm
      In the est of the idealities, I submit, the Central or any State Governments should refrain themselves from interference with the Universities of higher learning without any appa serious irregularities.
      (1)(0)
      Reply
      1. V
        VINOD
        Feb 16, 2018 at 6:29 am
        Sir, why do you not like prototype human beings similar thinking, similar speaking, similar eating, similar singing, similar praying, nationalistic. citizens. All is for you good only
        (0)(0)
        Reply
      2. Genaro Lobo
        Feb 15, 2018 at 2:54 pm
        Is the Chancellor educated
        (0)(1)
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        1. V
          VINOD
          Feb 16, 2018 at 6:33 am
          I do not know but yes our all HRD ministers beginning Shrimati Smriti Irani ji have been and are highly educated in the true sense.
          (0)(0)
          Reply
        2. P
          Parth
          Feb 15, 2018 at 1:35 pm
          All prominent ins utions in the country could have heads only from the RSS stable.
          (8)(2)
          Reply
          1. V
            VINOD
            Feb 16, 2018 at 6:35 am
            Yes, 'Munde munde sam mati' will do good.
            (0)(0)
            Reply
          2. MAMUTTY CHOLA
            Feb 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm
            DO N'T YOU KNOW MODIJI'S GOVERNMENT CAN NEVER MAKE MISTAKE!!!!!
            (11)(18)
            Reply
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