Bengal’s university bill draws flak

December 24th, 2011 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 24 (IANS) West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress-led government has passed a university bill in its bid to free higher education from alleged political interference, but the legislation has raised apprehensions in some political circles about its real purpose.

The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011, was passed in the assembly Friday, with state Education Minister Bratya Basu advocating that it would bring more transparency in the appointments of vice chancellors and pro-vice chancellors of the state varsities and would provide a free hand to the academics in taking decisions.

But the opposition is unimpressed.

“It is an immature allegation that we had politicised education and this bill will free it from politics. It is nothing but a farce,” said Sudarshan Roy Choudhury, former state higher education minister and CPI-M leader.

“If they are ruling out students from bodies like courts and councils of the universities, then they should also ban students from entering universities. How will they stop political associations of principals and teachers?”

According to the bill, the vice chancellors (VC) would be appointed by a three-member search committee. The bill has empowered the chancellor or governor to remove the VC but has provided the vice chancellors the final say in teacher recruitment.

“The bill has been drawn up in haste just like other decisions taken by this government. There should have been more intense discussions on the bill. It has curbed the democratic rights of the students,” said Kshiti Goswami, state secretary of Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP).

The students, both at graduate and post-graduate levels, will be accommodated in the lower bodies like academic council but there will be no representation of students in the higher decision making bodies.

“Though theoretically the bill is good, technically there are lot of questions. It is a known fact that whoever becomes a VC or pro-VC gets close to the ruling party. Then how can you depoliticise education?” asked Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhuri, a political scientist.

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