Let us face it Bihar is trying to liquidate the image of corruption and fixing of the method of selecting the Vice Chancellors is that opportunity. Though the office of the VC is apolitical, it has been the bastion of favoritism and cronyism. Flawed vetting process allows mediocre and undeserving candidates to get the appointments; and the institutions suffer. Can we say mediocrity in the field of education is road block to excellence?
The announcement by the Bihar government to constitute a commission to select the V Cs is a hopeful prospect that appointments would be transparent and the commission would do its job without the constraints of the pressure. Perhaps the commission will have the mandate to scrutinize the candidates for management skills, intellectual prowess and personal integrity.
The office of the Vice Chancellors is a position of leadership most coveted by the scholars and educators. But the recent allegation of malfeasance against the Vice Chancellor of the JP University and accusation of misbehavior, administrative mismanagement and demand of illegal gratification by the VC of Manjhi University demonstrates that the governor’s appointments were inarticulate. Is it possible that subsequent appointments by the Governor were also flawed that allowed the mediocre and the corrupt people to infiltrate the office of the Vice Chancellors?
Now the question is what kind of corrupt practices an educator to be the Vice Chancellor would be involved in. First comes to mind is favoritism followed by nepotism. Sanctioning of plagiarism and complicity in granting of high marks in exchange for money and other benefits are some of the corrupt practices of educators. I would say when degree is the criteria to get a job, paying lacks of rupees to educators to get a master or a PHD degree is not out of question. Though these are extraordinary probing points, to promote fairness and excellence, such investigations are necessary to detect the character flaws of the candidates. Remember Mr. Sahabuddin. He got his Master and PHD and was about to get his Law Degree without attending classes. I also remember the story of Magadha University where people got degrees and diplomas without ever attending classes. Some even got law Degrees.
The recent nullification of the appointments of the V Cs by the High court is not only the rebuke to the Governor; it is an attack on corruption. The court ruled that the Governor defied the recommendation of the government and arbitrarily made the appointments. Now the question is did the governor or his advisers get kickback to subvert the process? Such a question arises because of allegations of wrongdoing by the previous governor, Bhuta Singh. His son was alleged to have amassed wealth by doling out favors. Would it be incongruous to ask if the current governor suffered from the same malaise and made the appointments of the V Cs for gains or favor? I would say high profile appointments in a democracy without transparency are always questionable.
A word about the selection process: the commission cannot shirk its responsibility of promoting excellence in education, which entails the selection of Vice Chancellors is only on the basis of reputation, intellect, and character and management skill.