Skip to main content

Mumbai varsity happenings suggest poor governance 'not limited to Balasore disaster'

Rosamma Thomas* 
After the train accident in Odisha on June 2 that killed nearly 300 and left over 1,000 injured, reports have appeared in the press of the over three lakh vacancies in the Indian Railways. There is an acute dearth of gangmen and women, the people who regularly inspect tracks and keep them in good condition, preventing accidents.
This state of affairs is not confined to the Indian Railways. At a time of massive joblessness, when the unemployment rate stands at nearly 8%, there is also simultaneously a massive build-up of vacant positions in government institutions. While the massive accident of June 2 has brought this matter into sharp focus in the Railways, in other sectors where operations do not involve risk to human life, the enormous lack of personnel is less noticed.
Mumbai University, for instance, has over 1,000 non-teaching staff on its rolls. A recent report in the "Hindustan Times" pointed out that in the last 30 years, only eight permanent positions were created in the non-teaching category staff of the university. In 2018, the Bombay High Court ordered the university to pay to its contractual staff the same salary as regular staff, if the work they performed was the same. 
Even the court, however, stopped short of seeking the regularization of the services of the contract staff. The order was not implemented, and the court recently issued contempt notice to the university. Contract staff all earn less than Rs 20,000 a month, making it hard for them to survive in an expensive city like Mumbai.
What is worse, several serious “accidents” have occurred in the functioning of the university in recent years, which have not gone entirely unnoticed – students of the Masters programmes in several disciplines are currently taking examinations, but many are left jittery as examination centres have not yet been decided; hall tickets for some courses were not available, just days ahead of the scheduled examination. 
In one instance, the time table and the hall ticket showed different names for the paper that was scheduled. The Master of Commerce (MCom) examinations are set to begin in mid-June, but the examination form filling process had not begun at the end of the first week of June. 
Besides, results of semesters one and three had not yet been declared, so students set to sit examinations for semesters two and four did not quite know if they have cleared earlier examinations and are eligible to fill forms for forthcoming examinations.
Final-year law students in the LLB course were marked absent in examinations they took in December last year, as their answer scripts could not be found.
The Mumbai University and College Teachers’ Association has been campaigning for better administration – they opposed the choice of Ravindra Kulkarni as vice-chancellor of Mumbai University, holding up his poor record of administration while serving as pro-vice chancellor. In a letter on May 18, 2023, they urged the governor of the state to desist from appointing Kulkarni as vice chancellor. 
The union said that he was responsible for using university funds to pay for high end vehicles, thus leaving students and staff high and dry. Research grants have been stopped, and memoranda of understanding with foreign universities were in name only, with little work happening. 
PhD theses were not uploaded on the university website, severely impacting the ranking of the university in the National Institutional Ranking Framework, which ranks institutions of higher education in India.
Poor governance does not impact all sectors alike; while the massive rail accident caused enormous loss of life, the poor administration of the university will cripple the intellectual life of the community. 
Epidemiologist Dr Amitav Banerjee has pointed to how, in the health sector too, the style of governance of the current dispensation may leave India hurtling into a Balasore-type health disaster.
*Freelance journalist



Insider plot to kill Deendayal Upadhyay? What RSS pracharak Balraj Madhok said

By Shamsul Islam*  Balraj Madhok's died on May 2, 2016 ending an era of old guards of Hindutva politics. A senior RSS pracharak till his death was paid handsome tributes by the RSS leaders including PM Modi, himself a senior pracharak, for being a "stalwart leader of Jan Sangh. Balraj Madhok ji's ideological commitment was strong and clarity of thought immense. He was selflessly devoted to the nation and society. I had the good fortune of interacting with Balraj Madhok ji on many occasions". The RSS also issued a formal condolence message signed by the Supremo Mohan Bhagwat on behalf of all swayamsevaks, referring to his contribution of commitment to nation and society. He was a leading RSS pracharak on whom his organization relied for initiating prominent Hindutva projects. But today nobody in the RSS-BJP top hierarchy remembers/talks about Madhok as he was an insider chronicler of the immense degeneration which was spreading as an epidemic in the high echelons of th

The Vaccine War fails to reveal: Jabs not one of Indian scientists' 'proud' achievements

By Bhaskaran Raman*  On 28 Sep 2023, the movie “The Vaccine War” by Vivek Agnihotri was released internationally, as the story behind India’s Covid-19 vaccine development. While there will be many a review written, as for other movies, a technical review is important, as the film is supposed to be fact-based, on the science and scientists behind the science.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Modi govt intimidating US citizens critical of abuses in India: NY Christian group to Biden

Counterview Desk  the New York Council of Churches for its release of an open letter calling on the Biden administration to “speak out forcefully” against rising Hindu extremist violence targeting Christians and other minorities in India. In the letter addressed to President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other major elected officials, the NY Council of Churches expressed "grave concern regarding escalating anti-Christian violence" throughout India, particularly in Manipur, where predominantly Christian Kuki-Zo tribals have faced hundreds of violent attacks on their villages, churches, and homes at the hands of predominantly Hindu Meitei mobs.

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

MS Swaminathan Counterview Desk In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’. Pointing ou

Link India's 'deteriorating' religious conditions with trade relations: US policymakers told

By Our Representative  In a significant move, Commissioners on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) have raised concerns about the “sophisticated, systematic persecution” of religious minorities by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a hearing on India in Washington DC.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Why is green revolution harmful for nutrition, food safety, environment, climate change

By Bharat Dogra*  A lie repeated a hundred times will not turn a lie into a truth. The big media should realize this and stop perpetuating the lie of the green revolution saving India from hunger, long after the world has awakened to the reality of how harmful the green revolution has been from the point of nutrition, food safety, environment and climate change.