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Votebank politics behind Tamil Nadu govt inquiry into Anna varsity VC's 'activities'

By NS Venkataraman*

It is sad and depressing that the vice chancellor of the Anna University in Tamil Nadu has become a victim of Tamil Nadu politics. Recently, the state government  ordered an inquiry about his activities. Justifiably, several teachers of the Anna University have protested against the state government move to appoint an inquiry committee to investigate “the misdeeds” of the vice chancellor, who has said that he has nothing to conceal. Given his background and track record, one would tend to agree with him.
Senior professors and teachers working in the Anna University support the vice chancellor, Dr MK Surappa, and the students have regard for him. All those associated with the Anna University in close quarters say that there has been no nepotism in administration of the university.
But some politicians in Tamil Nadu, who thrive in the name of propagating Tamil language, seem to have their own agenda.
It is widely felt that the Anna University vice chancellor has excellent credentials. He has been selected for the post by the Tamil Nadu governor (chancellor of the Anna University) on the basis of recommendation made by a duly constituted selection committee.
From day one of Dr MK Surappa assuming office as vice chancellor, some politicians in Tamil Nadu, who get large space in the print and visual media in the state, have been saying that only a Tamilian should be the vice chancellor of the Anna University. What a ridiculous argument!
There are several professors and teachers from Tamil Nadu who are working in top positions in foreign universities and outside Tamil Nadu in India. In the sphere of education, merit should be the criteria for selection and not caste or nativity. It is not as if some of the Tamil Nadu politicians, who swear against the vice chancellor, do not know this but their agenda is self-centred and they have been striving on a hate campaign for the last several decades and misleading the poor and innocent people to catch their votes.
Certainly, more than interest in education, votebank politics is their priority.
Earlier, the Tamil Nadu government took steps to split the Anna University into two and change the name of one of the two universities to be created. Several professors and students have protested against the move but nobody in the Tamil Nadu government cared to listen to their voice.
The justification advanced by the Tamil Nadu government to split the Anna University into two was to declare one of the universities to be declared as centre of excellence and thus get huge funds from the Central government. Vice chancellor Surappa had the courage of conviction to say that attracting funds should not be the criteria for splitting the university and such required funds to augment the facilities can be well obtained from other credible sources.
From day one, some politicians, who get large space in print and visual media, have been saying that only a Tamilian should be VC
The Tamil Nadu government objected to the statement terming it as unwarranted. What is unwarranted about this? Who will speak for the Anna University if not the vice chancellor and it is his legitimate right to express his voice. Why object to this?
Vice chancellor Dr MK Surappa
For several years now, there have been consistent rumours that vice chancellors in Tamil Nadu universities are being appointed by politicians in power based on receiving some considerations. Further, it is rumoured that politicians in power in Tamil Nadu in the last several decades, whichever may be the party in power, expect that the vice chancellors should be obliged to the politicians in power and do their biddings.
This is one of the main reasons why the standard of education in Tamil Nadu has considerably gone down in recent years, which is no secret. Mixing education and politics in Tamil Nadu has now become complete.
Further, one question that remains unanswered is whether the Tamil Nadu government has taken the permission of the chancellor of Anna University (the Tamil Nadu governor) before ordering an inquiry on Dr MK Surappa.
Why is the chancellor keeping quiet? Does he approve this inquiry by Tamil Nadu government? Should he not assert his authority as the chancellor of the Anna University, if he would disagree with the decision of Tamil Nadu government to order an inquiry?
Former students of the Anna University, now well spread all over the world, present and former professors and present-day students, feel disgusted and frustrated about the interference of politicians in the affairs of the university.
But, obviously, hate mongering Tamil Nadu politicians seem to have their own agenda and the voice of the teachers and students do not seem to be of concern to them.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived

Comments

Anonymous said…
I totally agree with the article. Education requires long term vision. Higher educational institutions should be especially free from political interference. Sadly most political leaders and parties lack this vision in Tamil Nadu today. Anna University has been among the best state owned universities in India and almost on par with IITs and NITs. That's the reason why the central government chose to confer the status of an Institute of Eminence, only one of two technological universities chosen for this honour. However Tamil Nadu politicians of all sides behave like illiterates and try to deny the university, its students and faculty this honour. Recently the state government rejected the honour and reprimanded the vice chancellor for speaking out on this issue. It is plain fact that Tamil Nadu politicians did not like Prof Surappa as VC of the University as he was a non-Tamil, which is absurd as merit alone should dictate such high positions.However, the petty minded politicians would have none of it. They tried to discredit the VC from day 1 by hook or crook. The latest corruption allegation against the VC is their new tactic. The politicians have secured support of some sycophants and cacaphants against the respected VC amongst the staff,for which there is no shortage in Tamil Nadu.Can Tamil Nadu politicians stoop any lower?
Anonymous said…
On the dot. It is disturbing to see the State apparatus seeking to silence or disable the VC, as he had the “audacity” to act independently like writing to the Centre on his own about being able to generate funds from internal sources. This retaliatory action of the government seems vengeful, at any rate avoidable. The VC, as one could surmise from newspaper reports, apparently has been striving for excellence to improve the reputation of the University he heads. While it is widely believed, that he would come clean, the aftertaste the episode would leave is one which would, in future, discourage eminent professionals from associating themselves with this University for fear of meeting with a similar fate for actions taken in the best interest of the institution. One hopes that vested interests in running the State’s education system, have not had a role. R.Sundararaman

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