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nalanda university: did amartya recommend own name for chancellorship?


by a special correspondent


did amartya sen recommend his own name for chancellorship of the nalanda university? his elevation to that august office was announced at the recent governing board meeting of the university at patna on july 19. but a perusal of the nalanda university act, 2010 read with its statutes (bye-laws) on the prescribed methods of appointment raises suspicion that he promoted himself.

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clause 14 (1) of the nalanda university act, 2010 says that the chancellor shall be appointed by the visitor for such term and in such manner as may be prescribed by the statutes. now what the statutes (bye-laws) say? clause 11 (1) says ‘the chancellor shall be appointed by the visitor from a panel of names of not less than three persons recommended by the governing board and if the visitor does not approve the recommended persons, he may invite a fresh panel’.  

 it is implied that the ‘panel of names of not less than three persons’ recommended by the governing board is distinct from the governing board. it cannot be drawn from the governing board itself! otherwise, the statutes would have stated ‘panel of names of not less than three persons out of the governing board’. it would be height of favouritism that the governing board advances three of its own names. the recommendation letter would naturally go under the signature of chairperson, governing board.

 assuming that this process was followed for the appointment of the chancellor, it leads to an interesting scenario. imagine prof. amartya sen, chairperson, nalanda university governing board, writing to the visitor of the university i.e. president of india recommending three names. out of those three names the first one is presumed to be his. it got accepted. may be as a matter of decorum, he did not write that letter himself. but even if some other member of the governing board had written it to the visitor, it still needed prof. sen’s approval as chairman.

the post of chancellor does not appear to be honorary. it is still not clear whether amartya sen would receive emoluments or other privileges. but as per the rules of govt of india, which is funding the nalanda university project, he cannot have two employments. besides he is already employed by harvard university, an american academic body. the propriety of his announced appointment as chancellor warrants a thorough investigation.

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