Amartya Sen delays project and overspends public funds on new Nalanda University – J. S. Rajput

J S Rajput“Sen created huge ripples in the academic circle when he appointed the Vice-Chancellor and her deputy on salaries that, he thought, were “internationally appropriate”. The salaries are tax-free and range between US$50,000-55,000 per year for some of the functionaries. For those at the top, it is around US$80,000 a year. No one cared to find the extent of adverse and demoralising impact it would have on the incumbent VCs and academics of other Indian universities.” –  J. S. Rajput

Prof Amartya SenEvery Indian proudly recalls Nalanda, Taxila and Vikramshila as part of the glorious Indian heritage. The idea to recreate the glory that was Nalanda was presented as a dream initiative in knowledge creation, generation and utilisation. At least this is what people understood of it. In the times of transition from an information society towards a knowledge society, it was hailed as a step in ‘linking Indians to India’; a link that was obliterated in a planned manner by the British as the most potent strategy ‘to subjugate Indians’. Scholars and academics in institutions of higher education expected a versatile centre of excellence that would motivate and inspire over 600 universities and over 37,000 colleges and other institutions of higher learning.

The hype created was deafening; Bihar was in a celebratory mood and the Government of India was too eager to open its purse strings for the new venture. Land, too, was swiftly made available. Appointments were to be made. The top echelons of the government religiously seek inspiration from the West. Maybe they had some western universities in mind which find high places in international rankings and attract the resourceful young from India. They picked up Nobel Laureate [Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel] and government’s favourite Amartya Sen to head the mentors group. They wanted to ‘resurrect’ the Nalanda University without understanding what made it so great. What better choice than an internationally reputed person who was also, once upon a time, an Indian citizen. He was given the responsibility to steer the project and create a centre of learning, history and heritage that would make Indians proud. Also associated in a ceremonial capacity was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the beloved of the people and particularly the youth of India.

Abdul KalamThe project is now in a mess. Professor Sen has threatened to quit if his decisions are interfered by any agency. Dr Kalam had earlier expressed inability to continue his association. Sen would tolerate no incursion on his autonomy which, in academic institutions, could have multifarious interpretations. The ‘progressive’ elements in academia would not accept even an iota of accountability even if they are splurging public funds. Sen created huge ripples in the academic circle when he appointed the Vice-Chancellor and her deputy on salaries that, he thought, were “internationally appropriate”. The salaries are tax-free and range between $50,000-55,000 per year for some of the functionaries. For those at the top, it is around $80,000 a year. No one cared to find the extent of adverse and demoralising impact it would have on the incumbent VCs and academics of other Indian universities. It is such thoughtless acts that create conditions which impact quality of education and research.

Gopa SabharwalOnly an Amartya Sen, as head of mentors group, could appoint a young person as VC who was not even a full professor. It was sufficient enough to make people sit up. The Nalanda University began to ‘function’ from New Delhi as suitable infrastructure facilities were not available in Nalanda for the VC to function properly. When for every initiative, the guiding light comes from the West, why should Nalanda University follow the Indian rules and regulations? In India, those in power believe in privileges and more privileges. How could anyone question someone of the stature of Sen? Sadly enough for some, the manner of expenditure has been questioned by the babus of the government. Further, the office of the President has ordered that a CEO be appointed to take the university out of the snail’s pace at which things are moving at present. Obviously, it is an expression of anguish at the highest level.

People expect new Nalanda as a centre of learning that focuses on Indian languages and traditions of knowledge creation. Is copying the West the only way out? – The New Indian Express, 9 March 2014

» J. S. Rajput is a former director of NCERT. Contact him at rajput_js@yahoo.co.in

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6 Responses

  1. This economist has challenged of A. Sen.

    How Sen’s Theory Can Cause Famines
    http://bowbrick.org.uk/PB%20on%20Sen/how_sen1.htm

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  2. STATEMENT OF DR.SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY ON 24.02.2015

    I demand for four reasons that the now retired Professor Amartya Sen be sacked from the Chancellor’s post in the newly set up Nalanda University.

    1) Sen though paid an annual salary of Rs.50 lakhs (in US $ tax free) is normally resident in USA, and comes to India briefly in the winter months free of charge First Class on Air India. His total emoluments is far in excess of the service he provides.

    2) The CAG Report on the expenses incurred for building construction of the University and perquisites of Prof. Sen and others for administering the University and the delay in meeting easy targets for construction, is full of irregularities and is, prima facie, of corruption.

    3) The former President of India, Dr.Abdul Kalaam resigned from the post of Visitor of the University in 2011 in disgust, objecting to Sen’s arbitrariness and malafide actions.

    4) The nodal Ministry of External Affairs for the University, objected in writing to Sen’s arbitrarily and opaque manner of appointing as Vice Chancellor Ms.Gopa Sabharwal, an Assistant Professor. i.e., a junior lady faculty member, from JNU. Full Professors refused to join under a much junior-faculty member as Vice Chancellor.
    The CAG in its Report had also objected to the appointment and the salary fixed for her.

    5) In 2013-14, the Ministry of Finance also objected to the irregular way Sen was operating the large Special Dispensation Fund of the University. There was no transparency or accountability of the use of these funds

    6) So far about Rs.3000 crores of tax payers money has been recklessly spent by Prof.Sen, for which he has to be made accountable.

    Hence I demand that the Government prosecute Prof. Sen and his chosen few under the Prevention of Corruption Act, and under IPC Sections 120B, 406 and 420 or face a PIL from me.

    (SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY)

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  3. Govt denies attempt to remove Amartya from Nalanda varsity – HT Correspondents – Hindustan Times – Patna/New Delhi – Feb 20, 2015

    The government denied on Friday any attempt to remove Amartya Sen from Nalanda University after the Nobel laureate withdrew his candidature for a second term as chancellor of the institution alleging political interference.

    In an open letter to the university’s governing board, Sen said he has decided not to stay on when his current term expires in July because it had become clear that the government did not want him to continue in the chair.

    He said President Mukherjee, who has the final say over the appointment, has failed to reply to the board’s unanimous recommendation that he remain chancellor, though it was sent over a month ago.

    “This delay, as well as the uncertainty involved, is leading, in effect, to a decisional gap, which is not helpful to Nalanda University’s governance and its academic progress.”

    The foreign ministry, which monitors the multi-nation institution, attributed the delay in the approval process to “non-receipt of final minutes” from last month’s board meeting.

    Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said no attempt was made to curtail his tenure.

    He said the draft minutes contained two options: either to continue with Sen or President Pranab Mukherjee, the university’s Visitor, could seek three shortlisted names from the board to appoint a successor.

    Sen said the minutes were sent a fortnight ago and virtually everyone has confirmed receiving them, except the ministry.

    The economist has had an uneasy relationship with the ruling BJP, more so after he came out against Narendra Modi ahead of last year’s Lok Sabha elections.

    The government clarification came amid criticism by opposition parties for “dumping” a Bharat Ratna from the post. “Sen is a national treasure, and to be treated so shabbily is really unfortunate,” Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar said.

    Sen spearheaded the revival of Nalanda University in Bihar, one of the world's oldest seats of learning, taking over as chancellor in 2012 when it reopened.

    He is the second key member associated with the university to opt out after former President APJ Abdul Kalam declined to continue as Visitor in 2011.

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  4. Time Modi started cleaning up!

    Good riddance to the Marxist Professor (who is said to be paid a remittance of US $60-80,000 a year).

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  5. Modi govt does not want me to continue as Nalanda University chancellor: Amartya Sen – PTI – New Delhi – Feb 20, 2015

    NEW DELHI: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has withdrawn his candidature for a second term as Nalanda University chancellor, saying the Narendra Modi government does not want him to continue in the chair.

    Sen, who has long been a critic of Modi, in a letter to the Governing Board of the University blamed the absence of government’s approval for delay in nod from the Visitor, President Pranab Mukherjee, to his name even though the recommendation was sent to him over a month back.

    “Non-action (by government) is a time-wasting way of reversing a board decision, when the government has, in principle, the power to act or not act…It is hard for me not to conclude that the government wants me to cease being the chancellor of Nalanda University after July, and technically, it has the power to do so.

    This delay, as well as the uncertainty involved, is leading, in effect, to a decisional gap, which is not helpful to Nalanda University’s governance and its academic progress.

    “I have, therefore, decided that in the best interest of Nalanda University, I should exclude myself from being considered for continuing as chancellor beyond this July, despite the unanimous recommendation and urging of the governing board for me to continue,” he has written.

    It is clear that Mukherjee has been unable to provide his assent to the Board’s unanimous choice in the absence of government’s approval, he said.

    The Visitor has always taken a “deep personal interest” in the speedy progress of the work of Nalanda University, and given that, they have to assume that something makes it difficult — or impossible — for him to act with speed in this matter, he said.

    The Board had made the recommendation in its last meeting on January 13-14.

    The Bharat Ratna also rued that academic governance in India remains “so deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling government”.

    “Even though the Nalanda University Act, passed by Parliament, did not, I believe, envisage political interference in academic matters, it is formally the case — given the legal provisions (some of them surviving from colonial days) — that the government can turn an academic issue into a matter of political dispensation if it feels unrestrained about interfering,” he said.

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  6. ” The top echelons of the government religiously seek inspiration from the West…………..They wanted to ‘resurrect’ the Nalanda University without understanding what made it so great………….The ‘progressive’ elements in academia would not accept even an iota of accountability even if they are splurging public funds…………….. When for every initiative, the guiding light comes from the West, why should Nalanda University follow the Indian rules and regulations? In India, those in power believe in privileges and more privileges. How could anyone question someone of the stature of Sen? ” It is sickening to read these; We have glorified the Nobel Prize, which at one time was awarded on merrit alone; The ‘ PRESENT DAY WEST ‘ are utilising everything, including our own Scriptures and Cultures to create another country, which can offer everything ‘ THEY WANT ‘ at a cheap price and threatening us with direct and indirect sanctions; our politicians and the ‘BABOOS’ are very effectively and in a very subtle manner trained by them to cultivate our people.The EARLIER DAYS’ West was cultured, added lots of knowledge to humanity and even helped millions from starvation and Diseases; but the present days West is dominated by ‘ BUSINESS ‘ people, who are eager to multiply their wealth by any means and are willing to sacrifice any thing; they believe that by wealth alone they can control the entire world, no the entire Universe! Many of our own religious / cultural establishments are glittering only by remittances from our wards and relatives, who are imagining that we are regaining ‘ OUR HERITAGE ‘ and in that process losing their little bit of ‘ OUR ‘ ! Unfortunately, the communists and the DMK like parties too have and continue to degrade our Culture coating stray pieces of our history, as propounded by the business oriented Western Scholars!! The BJP could have stopped all these; but they too have been purchased! They have effectively arrested the spirit of ‘ economic freedom ‘ , very thought fully conceived by the earlier Congress people! Looks like the entire country will go down the way many dazzling PSUs and Research Institutions have been pushed into! JAI to our Baboos, the politicians and those who import ‘for us world class goods and services ‘ and to the Indian Public, including the intelligentia, who are happy with all these and highlighted by the ‘ largest democracy and election TAMASHA!!

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