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IIT now: a story of bureaucracy and higher education

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That state government bureaucracies spoil working systems of higher education is something that we know very well. An example, but not the only one, is the inability of the Maharashtra government to sort out the mess it created for over a decade. Now it turns out that the central government is equally unable to sort out problems of its own creation. IT reports:

The 63-year-old Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur (IIT-KGP), the country’s oldest, has been headless for almost a year now and the teachers and alumni say its high time a decision is taken on filling the post.

In an unusual step, teachers and alumni staged a hunger strike, silent march and other protests not just in the IIT-KGP campus, but also in Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore.

“We started the protest as it is high time that action is taken. A premier institution like IIT cannot remain without a director for so long,” said Atul Bal, a member of the IIT-Kharagpur Alumni Association.

“There is an acting director, but not all decisions can be taken by him,” Bal told IANS.

IIT Teachers Association general secretary Rajendra Singh said they had to resort to protest as their voice was not being heard.

“We wrote letters to the HRD (human resource development) ministry to take the necessary steps. We even wanted to go to Delhi but we were not given an appointment. One cannot just wait and watch,” he added.

IIT-KGP is the oldest of the now 16 IITs, founded in May 1950. It is also among the best, ranking 30th among Asian universities according to Times Higher Education survey.

ET adds:

The alumni and faculty of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, say they are done waiting. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, chosen by a HRD ministry-constituted search committee for the position of Director, IIT-Kharagpur, over a year ago is yet to take charge as he awaits clearance by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). Following a hunger strike by students and faculty members at Kharagpur, the alumni association’s chapters in Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore are taking their protest outside the campus. About 1,200 of IIT-Kharagpur’s alumni based in Delhi took part in a ‘silent march’ at JantarMantar on Saturday.

“The institute has been without a full-time director for over a year and is suffering because action can’t be taken and decisions can’t be made on a number of important programmes,” said ArjunMalhotra, IIT-Kharagpur alumnus and one of the founders of HCL Technologies. He added that he has filed as many as 20 RTIs and received replies from both MHRD as well as IIT but not from the CVC.

It does not seem resonable for the CVC to allow the post of a director to an important institute to go unfilled for a year. Since the tenures of directors are fixed at the time of appointment, the problem could have been anticipated at least a couple of years in advance. Without a director, research program can grind to a halt, appointments of teachers cannot be completed, and the whole institution begins to get demoralized.

If the recent tragic case of mid-day meals to school children is one aspect of government and bureaucracy’s apathy towards education, this is another.

August 14, 2013

An email from the new director revealed that the sole outcome of the functioning of the bureaucracy was to delay matters:

As the newly appointed Director of IIT Kharagpur, it is a great pleasure for me to write to you. I thank all of you for having believed in my capability.

I consider it as a personal as well as professional commitment to improve further the quality of academics and research, infrastructure, faculty and students’ experience and facilities in the campus.

Prof. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti
Director,
IIT Kharagpur

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

July 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

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