This was expected. Today, two High powered committees were set up under the aegis of the Planning Commission. The first one is the National Monitoring Committee (NMC) to support Nalanda University under the Chairmanship of Montek Singh Ahluwalia and another to suggest Amendments in the Nalanda University Act, 2010 under the Chairmanship of Prof.N.R.Madhava Menon, Former Vice-Chancellor, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.
The First Committee has members ranging from National Security Adviser, Finance secretary, Foreign secretary, HRD Secretary and the controversial ‘VC” of Nalanda university. This Committee has following Terms of reference:
i) Providing specific recommendations for international and regional connectivity via air, road and rail;
ii) Suggest sustainable regional and urban development Plans especially for water, energy and physical security, strategic risk mitigation and necessary social infrastructure to support the campus and environs;
iii) To look into Pre-emptive local and urban development and land-use controls and integration with local and heritage development needs and institutional arrangements necessary to make it possible.
iv) Defining further studies and to support the planning and development of the Nalanda campus and its environs.
v) Monitor timely and adequate flow of funds to the University is also in the terms of reference of the committee.
This has interesting resonance with the Term of Reference constituting Nalanda mentor Group under Amartya Sen by a letter from Pranab Mukherjee to Sen on 28th June,2007. The TOR of the NMG is reproduced herein:
TERMS OF REFERENCE
6. The terms of reference of the Nalanda Mentor Group would be as
1) To examine alternative options for setting up the Nalanda
International University and whether it will focus on teaching or research or both.
2) To make proposals which would facilitate the revival of Nalanda as a
Centre for Cultural Exchange between East Asia and South Asia reflecting in some measure the role played by the Nalanda University in ancient times.
3) To examine the framework and structure of international cooperation
and partnership which would govern the establishment of the University.
4) To suggest the governance structure of the University which would
facilitate continued international support and engagement.
5) To examine the modalities for finance for the establishment of the
University and its long term financial needs.
6) To consider proposals for the development of the area contiguous to
the proposed Nalanda University and its re-development as an academic, cultural, tourist and religious circuit.
7) The Nalanda Mentor Group shall at its first sitting, nominate an
Advisory Group of Scholars from all countries of the East Asia Summit who will be participating in the Nalanda University project.
8) To make final recommendations in a report which would be submitted to
the Government of India within a period of nine months from the date of constitution of the Mentor Group. The Mentor Group would be free to issue Interim Reports if it so desires, prior to the completion of its work.
Now see the travesty. The NMG held five meetings on following dates: Singapore (13-15 July,2007), Tokyo (14-16 Dec. 2007), New York(2-3 May,2008), New Delhi(12-13 August,2008), Gaya( 28-29 Feb.2009). Rs.1.71 crore was spent merely by the Government of India on their accommodation and travel. The expenditure made by other countries are not yet known. And what did they do. They did not submit any Report within mandated period viz.9 months, not even till now. If the NMG would have done their work sincerely, situation to constitute another Committee after 5 years would not have arrived. Now, what happened to the NMG Members. The Chairman selects a Vice Chancellor without selection procedure, without advertisement—merely on acquaintance. And who does he select- someone who is merely an Associate Professor in sociology with teaching experience to undergraduate students and with no proven ability to build any institution. The selection itself was done on the letter head of Harvard University .
The Ministry changed the order of the three names, opting for Ramchangra Guha as the first Rector. But, the PMO bypasses the Foreign Minister and directs to resubmit the proposal to make this ineligible lady as the first choice. Finally, the lady gets nod to become the VC-designate.
An NMG which did not do its own job and indulged in practicing crony selection does not get axe. The group gets elevated as governing Board for one year upto 25th November,2011. By this time an international Governing Board was to be constituted with participation from two officials from Bihar government ,one Additional secretary from HRD and five nominees from the top most donor countries for next 3 years. New Governing Board has yet not been constituted and clandestinely MEA extended the term of the NMG as the governing Board for one year again on 24th November. Now, this could have been done by an amendment in the Parliament in the Act. But, the illegality continues. The same Governing Board will nominate a member in this new Committee. Just like the governing Board which does not have any official representation from Bihar as mandated in the Nalanda university Act,2010(Clause 7(1)) , the Nalanda Monitoring Committee has no representation from the state of Bihar whose local area development the high power Planning Commission committee intends to develop. This is the absurdity of top-down approach or the maximum velocity with which the crony governance can run to vanish the national interest and civilizational glory.
Planning Commission has constituted another Committee to suggest Amendments in the Nalanda University Act, 2010 under Chairmanship of Prof.N.R.Madhava Menon. The second Committee would examine the Nalanda University Act, 2010 particularly provisions relating to academic, administrative and financial autonomy and suggest amendments to provide for full autonomy in matters relating to making appointments, determining salaries and emoluments and auditing. It would first examine Statutes, existing Ordinances and Regulation and suggest changes so that these are consistent with the Act and would suggest amendments / insertions in the Act to take care of existing gaps with a view to see that the University functions smoothly. This is absurd. The University like every Central University is autonomous institution . the President or his nominee is the Visitor. But, the NMG which has now morphed into the Governing Board cares little for the Presidential authority. The VC has to be appointed by the visitor. But, it was done by Amartya Sen on personal acquaintance basis. The Statute had to be framed within six month of the operation of the Act and this was to be done by the Governing Board. They miserably failed again and Statute full of arbitrary clause has been notified only few weeks back in March,2012. the Statute had to be approved only by the Visitor. Abdul Kalam continues to be the Visitor till 25th November,2015 as per clause(e) of the Act. But, it is surprising that Kalam wrote a three page letter and dissociated himself, aggrieved at the way the NMG stooped to push personal acquaintances and to benefit them financially. The Statute notified are as much illegal as the VC and the appointment of her OSD. It is also learnt that these people selected through opaque processes are getting astronomical salary of Rs.6 lakh and above a month and same is justified on the ground that this ought to be at par with international standard. But, in the same institution, the peons and sweepers are getting a below minimum wage salary of Rs.2000 per month.
The Act stipulates that the University need to be audited annually . Since all appointments are made on personal basis and not based on the authority derived from the Act, the new Committee intends to encroach upon the jurisdiction of legislature and to suggest way so that the Act is suitable amended to rescue the wrong doers from public scrutiny. The University has to be regulated by the UGC guidelines. But, the new Committee clearly has the agenda of giving a free for all to the Governing Board headed by Amartya Sen and the Saheli-qudrant of Gopa- Upinder- Nayanjot-Anjana who are running the university as personal property. Once the university is given free hand from the President/Visitor , Auditing, UGC guidelines, NAAC guidelines; the group would indulge in massive loot of money and fill the University with near and dear ones. This will be the end of Nalanda spirit which thrived on openness , transparency and participation of the most competent. And it is shocking to learn that all these is being steered from the very top. India has finally arrived into the leagues of banana republic. The appointments and succession on personal whims has been the hallmark of the current government. Before it is too late to save democracy, public must rumble. Nalanda spirit shall overcome the impediment of practitioners of cronyism.
While one would really applaud the effort being made by Bihar Times in trying to keep the issue alive and thought provoking on the gross irregularities being done in the name of so called Nalanda International University , it is at the same time very sad indeed to note that all the Major National Dailies have very effectively kept silent on this issue .
Does anybody care what a local newspaper is trying to unearth and draw the national attention to ? But , yes once the consequence is achieved and the mess has been created , then all these newspapers will sit on a post mortem and would then sensationalize the debacle and of course then increase their sales . Journalism ???????????
In fact one of the members of this mentor group had publicly gloated that nothing will happen with these tit bits of news; at least the National Dailies are silent on this !!!
Anyways , this issue will die a natural death ; since there are big names involved in this and the money will go where it is designed to go . Suresh Kalmadi did what he had to do , made a mockery of India on International scale , amassed great wealth , took the entire nation for a grand ride , in style and we the entire nation everyday watched it happen , felt bad but could we do anything .
Similarly here also the same will happen , the so many crores will be spent either in maintaining and funding the lavish lifestyles of the Saheli club , the international travel , the fat salaries , and when the time will come for actually moving to Rajgir then miraculously either the tenure would end for these ladies or they will find some excuse to keep the operations here at Delhi where they have comfort , or they would have by then secured seats for themselves or their kith and kin in International universities . And who will do the work at Bihar , some bureaucrat or historian who actually is less flashy but more grounded to work , Would he then get this salary ......... no he will then be put on the UGC grade citing amendments and regularisation .
So , like always , let us all wait and again be befooled , let this glorious govt again favour and enrich it's own . Let the corrupt get more corrupt and let the Nation be once again proven that we are all fools and we are very comfortable in letting things happen, even if it is an egg on our faces .