Gangtok, April 24, 2013
In response to issues raised by first vice chancellor Prof Mahendra P Lama on university campus and foundation day function (interview published by SIKKIM EXPRESS on April 17, 2013), Sikkim University vice chancellor Prof TB Subba presents his views and clarifications to the people of Sikkim. The rejoinder from Prof Subba, in his own words and in its entirety, can be read below.
Apropos the interview of Prof. Mahendra P. Lama published on the issue of 17th March 2013 in your esteemed daily, I am writing this rejoinder to clarify to the people of Sikkim certain matters relating to Sikkim University, as the interview you have published is likely to mislead many of them on the issues raised by the first Vice-Chancellor of Sikkim University Prof. Mahendra P. Lama.
Before I take up specific issues I would like to emphasize that the word “autonomy” is one of the most elusive words, as it means different things to different people and in different contexts. But if someone thinks that a university is an “autonomous” institution s/he must qualify it because no institution is autonomous in absolute sense, not certainly a university which is centrally funded. The only autonomy a university often has is in matters of curriculum. Without financial autonomy every other kind of autonomy can be compromised at any time. But what Sikkim University was doing in the name of protecting its “autonomy” for the past five years or so was deliberately and consciously alienating itself from the government and the people of the state, from the colleges affiliated to it, and to some extent from its own employees. I do not want such “autonomy”. I want the state government to come forward as a partner in developing the campus and the people of the state to ‘own’ the University, develop a deep sense of belonging to it, and to be responsible stakeholders of the same. If that means compromising the University’s “autonomy” be it.
The reply of Prof. Lama on this issue is contradictory, as he seems to indicate that it was “not given” to the University in the first paragraph and “not accepted” by the University in the second one. The available records show that it was not given to the University during his tenure. As for reasons why the land was not given to him he is entitled to hold the views he has expressed to the SIKKIM EXPRESS correspondent.
Was there a master plan for the campus drafted by Prof. Lama?
The reply of Prof. Lama seems to indicate that he had drafted the master plan and the blue print was ready when he relinquished his chair. I have neither seen a master plan nor a blue print of the campus, nor do I think it was possible to have all this before the land was even handed over to the University, before the soil and rocks were tested, before the contour survey was conducted and before architects were engaged to prepare the blue print of the campus. I have read about the constitution of an international Board of Campus Development at Yangang (BCDY) in many reports of the University but it was neither practical nor was it constituted as per the norms of the University Grants Commission for the Building Committee.
Further, the University has no records to show that it had received any sanction for either Kendriya Vidyalaya or Community Radio, as he claims.
Are our students the best in India?
We do have some of the best students in the country but I am not sure if our University should take the entire credit for that and blame the colleges and schools only if they are bad students. I do rejoice on the success of one or two bright students of the University but I am seriously concerned about the future of the majority of students particularly in some nonconventional departments that the first Vice-Chancellor started. I would also not like to believe that the college students were divided on the basis of caste and class earlier and they are no University. Relevant studies show that caste and class identities emerge as dominant identities in different situations and contexts and if some people think that Sikkim University has been able to erase such identities I sincerely wish to believe it.
On invitation to Prof. Lama for the Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony
The invitation to all was late and we are indeed sorry about it but it was not intentional. The decision of the President of India to lay the foundation of our university was communicated to the state government and the University authorities less than a week before the event. The credit goes to the state government for mobilizing all its resources to make all the arrangements in such a short time both at Gangtok and Yangang for the visit of the President.
The invitation to Prof. Lama was sent by the University in deference to his status as the first Vice-Chancellor; the tate government had no reason to invite him after the damage he had caused to it by his provocative statements in newspapers and his public speeches. For the records, it was a joint invitation of the Human Resource Department and Sikkim University, and not as he has said in the interview. About who should have received the President and who should sit with him on the dais be it informed that it is the privilege of the office of the President to decide and not the University or the state government. The same holds true for the invocation song that Prof. Lama wrote with much passion. Finally, Prof. Lama should know that the functions of Finance Committee, Academic Council and Executive Council of the University are defined in the Statutes of the University and he need not worry about their future till such time as he becomes the Vice-Chancellor of Sikkim University again.
My humble request to him is to stop meddling in the affairs of the University until that happens.
(Courtesy: Sikkim Express)
Donggala, Sulawesi Tengah
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