The Chancellor of Nalanda University, George Yeo, resigned on Friday citing that earlier he was assured of the University’s autonomy but now things had changed. He cited 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”. Incidentally, the resignation of Yeo comes on the day of the Foundation Day of the University.
In a statement issued by Yeo, he wrote that the order of the Visitor of the University, dissolving the Governing Board and creating a new one, came as a complete surprise to him and to most of the members of the existing Governing Board. He said that he was neither involved nor consulted before the decision was taken.
Earlier on November 23, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen ended his nine-year-long association with the Nalanda University, first as a Chancellor and later as a member of the governing board. Sen, who had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, resigned as Chancellor in February 2015 and publicly lashed out at the BJP-led NDA government after stepping down. However, he continued to be a member of the governing board, as he was a part of the Nalanda Mentors Group (NMG) since 2007, which was tasked by the Manmohan Singh government with the revival of the Nalanda University.
Yeo said, “When I was appointed Chancellor in July 2015, I was told that a new Governing Board would be formed under an amended Act, core aspects of which the Ministry of External Affairs sought my views on. The amended Act would have removed a major flaw in the current Act which in essence offers Governing Board seats to East Asian Summit countries making the highest financial contributions in the last three years. This provision, which was never recommended by the Nalanda Mentor Group, would not have been a good way to constitute the Governing Board and was the reason the Government of India requested the Nalanda Mentor Group to continue functioning as the Governing Board for a number of years until the Act could be amended.”
He further said that the reasons for the decision taken were not entirely clear to him.
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Citing the change in leadership of the University, he said that it was a sudden decision that was disturbing and harmful to the University’s development. He said, “When I was invited to take over the responsibility from Amartya Sen last year, I was repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now. Accordingly, and with deep sadness, I have submitted my letter of resignation as Chancellor to the Visitor.”
Yeo said that it had been an honour and privilege for him to be associated with the revival of Nalanda over the last decade, to serve as a member of the Nalanda Mentors Group and the Governing Board under the leadership of Amartya Sen, and to be appointed its second Chancellor.