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Appointment of Sanskrit varsity V-C causes ripples in academic circles

As a parting gift,Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma has approved the appointment of Pankaj Laxman Jani as the Vice-Chancellor of Shree Somnath Sanskrit University at Junagadh.

Written by Tanvir A Siddiqui | Ahmedabad |
July 22, 2009 2:04:33 am

As a parting gift,Governor Nawal Kishore Sharma has approved the appointment of Pankaj Laxman Jani as the Vice-Chancellor of Shree Somnath Sanskrit University at Junagadh. But this has led to disappointment in the Sanskrit circles in the state who do not want to come out in the open against the re-appointment.

The reason for disappointment is that Jani has been appointed bypassing Dr Girish Thakar,who despite being a Sanskrit scholar,was appointed as officer-on-special duty in the initial stage of the University’s foundation prior to the appointment of a regular vice-chancellor.

Ideally,the vice-chancellor should be someone with knowledge of Sanskrit. Jani’s bio-data is incidentally mum on his prowess in Sanskrit. Not a single diploma or certificate course goes to his credit.

Jani happens to be the first vice-chancellor of the university who is an MA in English literature. The appointment,it is alleged,has been made in violation of the Shree Somnath Sanskrit University Act,2005 (Gujarat Act 25 of 2005) of Section 11(2) of the Act.

Section 11 (2) of the Act says: “The vice-chancellor shall be a person of eminence having distinguished himself in the field of Sanskrit,Prakrit and ancient Asian languages and literature. He shall be a person of vision and subscribe to the objectives and philosophy of the University and shall be interested in academics.”

Besides,the procedures prescribed under the provisions for re-appointment of the vice-chancellor is also bypassed as the procedure prescribed under Section 12 of the Act bypassed in this re-appointment.

Incidentally,Jani has been the educational advisor in the Sanskar Dham,the pet institution of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He was also the joint director in the state Education Department prior to this,and had opted for voluntary retirement under debatable circumstances. He was later given another term as the vice-chancellor in the first week of June this year. His other achievements include participation in the kite festival of Vibrant Gujarat Summit,attending Republic Day parade camp in New Delhi in 1989 and bagging a “lifetime achievement award”,the details of which are not disclosed.

Principals of some Sanskrit colleges have said they will not comment on the matter as it concerns the vice-chancellor and the state government,adding that they have no complaint against Jani.

Elsewhere,Jani has countered the allegation of violation of the Act by saying that the Act doesn’t mention that the candidate for the vice-chancellor’s post must posses any graduate or postgraduate degree in Sanskrit language.

“I have studied Sanskrit from high school and in first year of college,” he said.

Of the appointment being controversial for being connected with Sanskar Dham,he said a search committee had cleared his name,“which must have seen some merit in me”.

Asked if he knew a signature campaign had been launched in protest against his appointment,Jani said he was not aware of any such thing and that he was ready to face his opponents face to face or else they were free to do things of their liking.

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