THE amended Gujarat Agricultural Universities (Amendment) Bill passed by a majority vote on Friday has clipped the wings of the chancellor (office of which is held by the governor) in the running of the state agricultural universities and vested the power to take important decisions in the hands of the state government.
From the power to constitute and appoint a search committee for the selection of vice-chancellor to taking a call on the universities’ statutes, their making, amendment, repeal and operation, all proposals will now be submitted to the state government and not the chancellor, as per the amended bill that was presented by Agriculture Minister Ranchhodbhai Faldu and cleared on the last day of the Budget session of the state assembly on Friday.
Opposing the move, Chotila Congress MLA Rutvik Makwana said, “The state government is interfering in the functioning of agricultural universities. Even if the people of Gujarat fail to get the intention of the state government behind this amendment, we do understand that it is not just replacing of a word.”
When governor questioned V-C’s retirement age
In 2009-10, when then vice-chancellor of Anand Agricultural University, M C Varshney, was to retire after attaining the age of 65 years, the state government, led by Narendra Modi, through its cabinet hurriedly approved and extended V-Cs retirement age to 70 years. Then Governor Kamla Beniwal questioned the urgency for the decision and set it aside for discussion. Amid the confusion, Varshney had to retire the same day having served two terms at AAU from 2004-07 and 2007-10.
Another Congress MLA from Amreli Virji Thummar also opposed the bill.
As per the Gujarat Agricultural Universities Act 2004, the chancellor (Governor) was supposed to appoint a search committee for shortlisting names for the post of vice-chancellor which has been amended to say that “the state government shall appoint a committee” for the same.
According to the amended Bill, “Three members from the field of agriculture and allied sciences will be nominated by the state government and one member will be nominated by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).”
Under the emoluments and other terms and conditions of service of the Vice-Chancellor (V-C), the state government has taken away the power from the V-C where ‘these shall not be varied to his disadvantage during his tenure of office without his consent’ part has been modified with ‘shall be such as may be prescribed’.
The bill also states that the V-C will now refer matters to the state government for its direction instead of the chancellor.
So far, the chancellor had the power to revise or modify an order or resolution which is now completely in the hands of the state government.
Makwana also opposed the amendment in this bill that prohibits any educational institute, college or university to impart education in courses related to agriculture other than the established six state agricultural universities.
“On one hand the education minister is talking about promoting private universities to increase competition and raise standard of education, on the other hand you are barring other universities to run agricultural courses,” Makwana said.
As per the amendment, “no educational institute/college/University established by law imparting education in agriculture and allied sciences or conducting and guiding research in agriculture or conducting and guiding programmes of extension education shall be started or shall be associated in any way with or seek admission to any of the privileges of, any other University established by law without the sanction of the state government in the agriculture farmers welfare and co-operation department.”
Eight new private varsities approved by the Assembly
The state government approved setting up of eight new private universities under the Gujarat Private Universities Act, 2009, taking the list of private universities from 28 to 36. The new approved universities are:
Shreyarth University, Talod, Sabarkantha
Bhaikaka University, Karamsad, Anand
J G University, Uvarsad, Gandhinagar
Bhagwan Mahavir University, Surat
Silver Oak University, Gota Ahmedabad
Lok Jagruti Kendra University, Ahmedabad
Charutar Vidya Mandal University, Vallabhvidyanagar, Anand
ITM (SLS) Baroda University, Vadodara