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The rot which DU VC needs to clear

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By Sidharth Mishra

Delhi University may finally see redemption time. The past seven-eight years have been most horrendous for the hoary university with a very prestigious legacy. The decay started sometime towards the end of the vice-chancellor tenure of Professor Dinesh Singh, it started to sink during the time of Professor Yogesh Tyagi leading to his suspension followed by the ad hoc regime whose tenure is been comparable to the rule of Sayyid Brothers of Delhi sultanate.

Thanks to the ad hoc rule, Delhi University today has unaccountable number of professors and equally unaccountable number of associate professors and near complete absence of assistant professors. The appointment process has been stuck for the past many years, and end of the tunnel seems to be still some distance away.

In the midst of these we have a new Vice-Chancellor Professor Yogesh Singh with the assignment to repair the dent in the image of the university and ward off competition from other universities in the capital running under-graduate programmes like the Guru Govind Singh Indra Prastha University (GGSIPU) and Ambedkar University of Delhi (AUD).

While the Delhi University community can give a short shrift to the very thought of, they being challenged, the fact remains that their new Vice-Chancellor is a product of the GGSIPU, having joined the newly-founded university two decades ago. He for five long years served as the Dean of the information technology department.

Singh comes to the Maurice Nagar campus with about a decade of experience in the position of the vice-chancellor and its equivalent. However, the nature of challenges in Delhi University would be different from what he faced at say Delhi Technological University or Netaji Subhash University of Technology. May be his experience of Vice Chancellor at Maharaja Syaji Rao University, Baroda may come in handy.

However, the point to be noted here is that the Gujarat University has a single funding head, whereas different funding heads of Delhi University is proving to be its biggest bane. There are 12 colleges, funded by the Delhi Government, which have been starved by the whimsical policies of a quirky Delhi Government.

The first challenge before the new Vice Chancellor would be to restore pay-parity among the teachers and staff of the differently funded colleges. He should not give in to the bullying tactics of Delhi Government. If the delhi Government continues to work in the manner it has done in the past three years, Singh should work out a plan for the Centre taking over these colleges.

The next big challenge for Professor Singh is to take trade unions by horns and restore teaching-learning process on the campus and its colleges. Absenteeism by teachers is at an all-time high. Academic lethargy and work inertia has been rewarded by the outgoing ad hoc regime with a basketful of promotions. It has created situation where the university today has more professors than professional teachers.

Probably he could take a cue, without getting into the ideological debate, from the tenure of Professor Deepak Nayyar, who not only tamed the bullying unions, restored academic credibility and took the university on the path of progress. To a great extent, his successor Deepak Pental continued in the same vein though not with the same degree clear headedness, charisma and dynamism.

The rot started to set during the tenure of Professor Dinesh Singh, who promoted community parochialism over academic credentials in the matters of appointment. It turned into a gangrene during the term of Yogesh Tyagi and the ad hoc regime has only added to it. How well will the new V-C wield the scalpel to clear the rot, only time would tell.      

(The writer is an author and President, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice) 


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