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Scribe as Prof stirs a hornet's nest in DU

Scribe as Prof stirs a hornet's nest in DU

Author: Yogita Sabberwal
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: January 1, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/147337/Scribe-as-Prof-stirs-a-hornet's-nest-in-DU.html

The Delhi University finds itself in a Catch-22 situation following a complaint lodged against the appointment of veteran journalist Achin Vanaik as the head of the political science department. Vanaik, in the ex officio capacity, is also holding the post of the dean of social sciences. Those opposing the appointment point to the fact that holding a PhD degree is a pre-requisite for becoming a professor in the university.

Vanaik, on the other hand, doesn't even possess a master's degree in political science, which is mandatory for someone to become even a lecturer in the subject under the University Grants Commission regulations. The head of political science department in Delhi University is a graduate in statistics, the only formal degree he holds. This doesn't qualify him to become even a lecturer in the statistics department. Then how come he has become a professor of political science?

According to Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental, "There's a provision in the varsity's ordinances which allows that distinguished scholars, who have made some excellent contribution in a particular field, may be given the post of professor even if they don't have the requisite qualification. He has done a lot of work towards disarmament etc. We cannot overlook the provisions of the ordinances."

This stand of the university is under dispute. According to a group of university teachers, led by former head of the political science department Professor Subrata Mukherjee, "Eminent scholars are invited to become professors. They do not apply, face interview and get selected in the contravention of the criterion spelt out in the advertisement."

According to Ordinance XII-A (I) of Delhi University, "Any eminent scholar who has made outstanding contribution in one or more fields of study covered at university…may be appointed a visiting professor." And according to clause (vi) of the said ordinance, such visiting professor may be accommodated on the campus so that he may participate in the academic life of the university.

According to Academic Council member Dr Sriprakash Singh, "The selection committee worked with an obvious bias to overlook the candidature of other candidates and presented the credentials of Vanaik as that of somebody holding a PhD degree, the pre-requisite for appointment of a person as professor under the university rules. The minutes of the selection committee meeting and also the attendance sheet clearly mention Vanaik as 'Dr Achin Vanaik'. He was appointed a professor of political science (International Relations and Global
Applications) in September 2004 and not as a visiting professor, as provided for in the ordinances. The university cannot overlook this fact." The Pioneer possesses a copy of the selection committee minutes.

The issue was taken to the Vice-Chancellor in October this year in order to initiate an inquiry into the matter. A petition signed by 25 teachers is lying before the Vice-Chancellor for his intervention. "How does one quantify and infer this excellence/contribution," questioned Professor Subrata Mukherjee, who has moved a petition in the high court for the cancellation of the appointment.

"Our only contention is that he does not have any substantial contribution in the field of political science, the department he heads. He just has two edited books to his credit," explained Mukherjee. "Moreover, if such a person of 'excellent disposition' happens to be there in the reckoning list of the varsity, the scholar is invited. He does not apply. Vanaik had specifically applied for the post. And the fact is that despite several eminent scholars in the field possessing requisite qualifications for applying, he was chosen as the professor in the department," he added.

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