Standing Committee grows suspicious about Nalanda University
By a Special Correspondent
Patna (BiharTimes)The Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013 introduced in the Rajya Sabha during the recently concluded Monsoon Session and referred to the Standing Committee on External Affairs could not be taken up for discussion in the October 4 meeting. Mr. Balbir Punj, MP, Rajya Sabha and member of Standing Committee objected to the way the project has been handled since 2007. Proceeding with the Amendment Bill under such circumstances might mean legitimizing the follies. He referred to a detailed letter (enclosing documents) he had written Mr. Ananth Kumar, Chairman of the Standing Committee last January highlighting the arbitrariness and malfeasance in the project. The letter inter alia alleged how the Nalanda University was violating the provisions of the UGC Act and the Nalanda University Act, 2010 by being run from New Delhi . He also demonstrated how Amartya Sen arbitrarily recommended Vice Chancellor not eligible for the post; and ‘gifting’ away of plump posts in the University to a favourite few.
The Bihar Times have already highlighted such irregularities in the Nalanda University project over the last two years. The Standing Committee which had reviewed the progress in Nalanda University project as part of the Demand for Grants of the Ministry of External Affairs (2013-14) in April obviously did not consider Mr. Punj’s letter earlier. A grant of Rs.125 crores were sanctioned for the University during the FY 2013-14.
The Chairman Mr. Ananth Kumar decided the postpone discussions on the Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013. He ordered Mr. Punj’s letter to be circulated amongst the members of the Standing Committee. Dr. Gopa Sabharwal, Vice Chancellor, Nalanda University was also present in the meeting. She tried to clear air on her salary, which is believed to be Rs.5 lakh per month. She said it was Rs.2 lakh per month (whereby she did not include government accommodation, chauffer driver car and other privileges)!
The Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013 has 24 amendments. The primary amongst them is not to link the foreign membership in the Governing Board with donation given by ‘member states’. This clearly proves that no member state of the East Asia Summit has come forward to establish the University. The lack of international support debunks the claim that Nalanda University is an international project. In the meanwhile the government has gone ahead by signing the Headquarter Agreement with the Nalanda University waiving of income tax on the salaries of the employees. No Host Country Agreement, a prerequisite for Headquarter Agreement, has been signed. The Government of India is propping up the ‘international status’ of the Nalanda University against all cannons. The next meeting of the Standing Committee is expected to be held after the Dussera.