Universities and Intervention


There was a standing reproach against the CPI(M)-led government of West Bengal that on any issue related with education, including appointment of teachers, principals and vice-chancellors, what the powerful CPI(M) bosses said was considered the final and that the outcome of this party-ism was a palpable lowering of the standard of teaching. There was much truth in the accusation. But the current TMC government too seems to continue with the same policy, even more blatantly.

The education minister of West Bengal government, Mr Partha Chatterjee, said some months ago that since he gave the money, he had every right to interfere, seeming to suggest that he gave the money from his own pocket or from his own party fund. Despite much criticism of this attitude, he has obstinately clung to it. The Presidency University, which came into being in the early phase of TMC rule, now finds that the majority of seats in its various departments are vacant, and Mr Chatterjee has asked the authorities for an explanation. To those who are somewhat familiar with the running of this university, the most acceptable explanation is the degradation of environment. Inadequacy of infrastructure is certainly one aspect of it. Yet some distinguished teachers had joined this university, only to quit soon. The reason is clear, government intervention in all matters, and the servile attitude of the authorities to it.

Any sensible person would agree that the minister of education has no right to call for explanations from the university authorities. It should be pointed out that the excellence that the Jadavpur University and the Jawharlal Nehru University have succeeded in maintaining so long is due to the successful resistance put up by the students and teachers to government intervention. The Presidency University, which the chief minister had promised to elevate to the standard of Oxford and Harvard Universities, is a congenital cripple in this respect. Let alone Oxford or Harvard, if the standard of the Presidency University is to be raised to that of even a modest-ranking institution of teaching and research authoritarian intervention must be stopped forthwith. There should be no mistaking about that.

Vol. 50, No.21, Nov 26 - Dec 2, 2017