Prof Chandrakanth new director of ISEC

Prof Chandrakanth new director of ISEC

Choice causes heartburn as his name was last in search panel list

After being headless for the last 14 months, city-based Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) has finally got a new director. Prof M G Chandrakanth, head of agricultural economics, University of Agricultural Sciences, has been appointed to the post.

The Raj Bhavan on Tuesday issued orders in this regard. The appointment, however, has led to discontent within ISEC as Prof Chandrakanth was not the “first preferred,” candidate by the search committee.

 The search committee constituted by Governor Vajubhai Vala had shortlisted three names - Dr Sandeep Shastri, pro-vice-chancellor, Jain University, K S James, professor, Population Research Centre (PRC), ISEC and Chandrakanth in that order of preference. The list was forwarded to the Raj Bhavan late last month.

Sources said that Prof Chandrakanth’s name was added to the list in the last minute. The “long-held practice at ISEC” of selecting the first candidate from the list submitted by the search committee was also not followed.

 The search committee comprised of Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president and chief executive of the Centre for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based think tank, Dr S Parasuraman, Director, Tata Institute of Social Science and Prof A Balasubramanian, former professor at the media department of Karnatak University, Dharwad.

 According to sources, Mehta and Parasuraman were the nominees of the ISEC’s Board of Governors (BoG) and selected Dr Shastri and Prof James for the top post. Balasubramanian, the governor’s nominee selected Prof Chandrakanth.

“The first name on the list is usually the one favoured for the post. It is the entire point of appointing the selection committee. ISEC is unlike other universities as it is governed by a society that appoints the board members and its chairman. The new appointment is a tragedy,” said a source. Even the government's nominee to the search committee was not a known academician, said the source.

There, however, is no written rule that the governor has to mandatorily select a candidate preferred first by the search committee as pointed out by M V Nadkarni, former professor, ISEC and former vice-chancellor, Gulbarga University.

“The search committee gives the order of priority. However it is for the governor to change it, there is no constraint or mandate that it has to be the first one in the list as the director.”

Vijaykumar Torgal, secretary to the governor, who refused to divulge the order of the shortlisted candidates, said, “The selection was based on merit and there was no question of seniority or preference.”

Past row

The institute was at the centre of a controversy in December 2014. A professor of the institute, T N Bhat lodged a complaint with the Upalokayukta alleging financial and administrative irregularities against the then director, Binay Kumar Pattnaik. On February 3, Pattnaik resigned citing health reasons.

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