End govt interference in VC appointment: Experts

End govt interference in VC appointment: Experts

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit. PTI

Tamil Nadu governor Banwarilal Purohit’s statement that money to the tune of crores of rupees “were exchanged” in the appointment of vice-chancellors to universities in the state has only reignited the debate whether universities have become a “hotbed” of corruption in the state.

Higher education institutions in Tamil Nadu have been facing “large-scale” corruption charges with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) filing cases against two former vice-chancellors of Anna University and Tamil Nadu Dr Ambedkar Law university and arresting vice-chancellor of Bharathiar University for accepting a bribe of Rs 30 lakh for regularising the job of an assistant professor in the past few months.

Though experts have openly accused successive governments of “selling” the top posts for the “highest bidder” without scrutinising their qualification, this is the first time that a constitutional functionary has validated what was whispered only as a rumour within the state— crores of rupees are exchanged in vice-chancellors’ appointment.

“The Governor is 100% right. He has only repeated what everyone in Tamil Nadu knows. This Governor (Banwarilal Purohit) is the only person in the recent past to have refused to listen to the government in appointment of vice-chancellors,” former Anna University vice-chancellor E Balagurusamy told DH.

He also punched holes in Higher Education Minister K P Anbhazhagan’s statement that the government had no role in appointment, saying the top government functionary does not even know the law.

“Till last year, the government was pushing its way into the appointment of vice-chancellors through its nominee in the search committee. Most governors have only appointed the government’s choice,” Balagurusamy, also former member of the UPSC, said.

Another educationist who wished to remain anonymous said that corruption in universities in Tamil Nadu has attained gigantic proportions and their is a need for government intervention and involvement for it to be stopped completely.

“The government should have no role whatsoever in the appointment of vice-chancellors,” he said, appreciating the efforts by Purohit to streamline the process of choosing heads of universities.

Agreeing with the educationist, Balagurusamy said that the government should seek “vigilance report” about the members of the search committee to check whether they had been accused of corruption in the past.

“Only if the search committee members are non-corrupt, they will not act according to the designs of the government. They should be clean first,” he said.

Addressing a conference on Saturday, Purohit had said that when he came to the state as a governor, he had heard appointment of vice-chancellors were made in exchange of money.

“I could not believe that, and I decided that things have to be changed. Those who are in Chennai, in Tamil Nadu will appreciate that till date I have appointed nine vice-chancellors fairly on merit. Nobody can raise a finger at me. Things are gradually improving, and it will take time. It has started,” he told a conference.