Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said it was his duty was to raise the issue of central university status to century-old Patna University (PU) “again and again” whether the Centre accepts it or not.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not entertained the CM’s request on the issue during his visit here on Saturday to attend the centenary celebrations of PU. “Patna University holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Bihar. The demand for a central status is not new. At the centenary celebrations on Saturday, I had only voiced a long-cherished wish of the people of the state”, Kumar told reporters after the weekly ‘Lok Samvad’ (Public Interaction) programme.
Minutes after Kumar’s plea for central status to PU, Modi had said the central status was “a thing of the past” and called upon Patna University to avail of the Centre’s scheme to make at least 20 varsities in the countries world class with a financial assistance of Rs 10,000 crore.
“It’s my duty to raise the demand (for central university status to PU) again and again whether the Centre accepts it or not. I have no reaction over the Centre’s decision,” Kumar, who graduated from Patna Engineering College (now NIT) in the early ’70s, said.
Kumar said that he had raised the issue several times in Parliament when he was an MP. The state government too had placed its demand in this regard with the Centre earlier. On the poor condition of universities in Bihar, including PU due to a shortage of teachers and infrastructure bottlenecks, he said as per constitutional provisions the state government’s responsibility with regard to universities is limited only to providing finance. The rest come under the jurisdiction of the chancellor, who is the governor of the day.
“We would have done a lot more ourselves had the system been different,” he said adding Bihar government provides Rs 4000 crore annually for universities. “For other issues since neither I nor my cabinet has any role in the daily running of universities, we can’t intervene directly,” the CM said. Kumar conceded that there is a shortage of teachers in PU and other universities in Bihar and said the state government had entrusted Bihar Public Service Commission for appointing them.
To speed up the process, the state government has now constituted a University Service Commission, which will have members soon to expedite the process of teachers recruitment. He claimed that the government under him had achieved “tremendous results” in school education, which is a direct responsibility of the state government. Since 2005 when he took over the percentage of children out of school had dropped from 12.5 per cent to only one per cent now.
In the secondary stage the number of boy and girl students are almost equal in government schools, he said and government initiatives like free cycle and uniforms had boosted their attendance. On the PM’s stress on building waterways through the Ganges, Kumar said it would be effective only when the siltation problem in the river is addressed and he had informed the prime minister of his view.