Sunday, December 4, 2016

Nalanda University chancellor’s resignation unfortunate: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar !

Nitish Kumar said on Saturday that the resignation of former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo as the Nalanda University chancellor and the circumstances around the move were “unfortunate”.

Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Kumar dwelt on the “idea of Nalanda”, and said he will write about the issue to the Centre. The resignation of Yeo was not in the interest of the university and appeared to “infringe on its autonomy”, he said.

Yeo said he was “not even given notice” of the leadership change after the government reconstituted the board and severed Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s decade-long association with the university.

Kumar dwelt on the “idea of Nalanda”, and said he will write about the issue to the Centre. The resignation of Yeo was not in the interest of the university and appeared to “infringe on its autonomy”, he said.

“It is the Bihar government that conceptualised the idea of Nalanda…Many people were involved in it from the beginning, and Yeo was one of them,” Kumar said.

The chief minister also said the Nalanda University has a different character and the institute cannot be equated with other universities.

“It is an attempt to recreate ancient Nalanda, which epitomised knowledge and learning across the globe. The Nalanda spirit needs to be kept intact,” he said.

“There were talks about necessary amendments in the NU (Nalanda University) act, which did not happen though the board has been constituted. When Prof Amartya Sen (the first chancellor) was not given extension, it was understandable with the change of guard at the Centre.

“In Yeo, there was one person who had been with NU since the conceptualisation stage, but now he has also quit,” Kumar said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Nalanda University Gets New Governing Board !!

Nalanda University-Bihar( Design)
A day after Nalanda University asked university Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal to continue as interim vice-chancellor after her term ends on November 24 till her replacement is found, the President has cancelled the extension and dissolved the Nalanda Mentors’ Group to pave the way for a new governing board to be headed by the Chancellor.

Top sources The Hindu talked to said that the decision flowed from the fact that the Nalanda University Act, 2010, permits only a single one-year extension to the Vice-Chancellor, which ends on November 24.

The new governing board will be headed by the Nalanda University Chancellor George Yeo and have the Vice-Chancellor and representatives of India, China, Australia, Laos and Thailand on it. Former Rajya Sabha MP and retired bureaucrat N.K. Singh is the India representative on the board.

“It is the prerogative of the government to reconstruct the board. They have done it in accordance with provisions,” Mr. NK Singh told The Hindu.

The Board will also have the Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, two members from the Bihar government, one representative from the Ministry of Human Resource Development at least of additional secretary rank and three “renowned academicians” – Professor Arvind Sharma from McGill University of Canada; Indian Council for Cultural Relations president professor Lokesh Chandra and Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr. Arvind Panagariya.

The senior-most dean will discharge the duties of the V-Chancellor after Dr. Sabharwal leaves.

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen – who quit as chancellor in 2015 – and academic and Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Sugata Bose are no longer part of the Board.

Nalanda University was initially a Bihar government initiative to rebuild the renowned ancient seat of learning. The State government persuaded the Manmohan Singh government to take over the project. The Ministry of External Affairs – which is the administrative ministry of this university – constituted a Nalanda Mentors’ Group (NMG) to run it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nalanda University Chancellor resigns !!

George Yeo-Nalanda University
Former Singapore Foreign Minister and Chancellor of Nalanda University, George Yeo, resigned on Friday, saying the Centre had superseded the University’s Governing Board without taking him into confidence.

Eminent professors Amartya Sen, Sugata Bose and Lord Meghnad Desai were part of the board. Significantly, the resignation came on the university’s Foundation Day. In his letter, Mr. Yeo expressed concern at the turn of events which, he said, were likely to impact the autonomy of the university that has academics and students from the world over on its rolls.

‘Complete surprise’

Mr. Yeo said the November 21 order dissolving the Governing Board had come as “a complete surprise.” “I was neither involved in the preparation nor was consulted beforehand,” he said in the letter. When Mr. Yeo took over from Prof. Sen last year, he was repeatedly assured that the university would retain its autonomy, he said. “This appears not to be the case now. With deep sadness, I have submitted my letter of resignation to the Visitor,” Mr. Yeo wrote.

“When I was appointed the Chancellor in July 2016, I was told that a new Governing Board would be formed under an amended act, core aspects of which the Ministry of External Affairs sought my views on.

“The amended Act would have removed a major flaw in the current Act, which, in essence, offers Governing Board seats to East Asian Summit countries, making the highest financial contributions in the last three years. The provision was never recommended by the Nalanda Mentor Group,” he said.

“For reasons not entirely clear to me, the Government of India has decided to form the new Governing Board with immediate effect before the Act was amended. Pending the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor, the incumbent Dr. Gopa Sabbarwal was to stay on as the interim Vice-Chancellor to ensure that there is no hiatus in the leadership of the university,” he wrote.

However, on Tuesday, the Visitor overruled the Governing Board and directed that the senior-most dean be appointed instead.

“The circumstances under which the leadership change in Nalanda University has been suddenly and summarily effected is disturbing and is harmful to the University’s development,” Mr. Yeo said.

Reacting to the resignation, former Harvard Professor and Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Bose said: “Yeo has done a dignified thing under the most aggravating circumstances. The basic courtesy of informing him about the decisions was not extended to him.”

“It is with sadness that we need to ponder whether this kind of behaviour helps in enhancing our prestige in the comity of East Asian Countries,” Prof. Bose added.

Founded in 2010, the university was the brainchild of the previous UPA government and the Nalanda Mentor Group was formed to set up the international university.

The Nalanda University Act 2010 was passed by Parliament and came into force on November 25, 2010. The newly-constituted Board will have the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, five members from the member states of India, China, Australia, Laos and Thailand. Former bureaucrat and BJP member N. K. Singh has been nominated as the Indian representative to the Board.
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No place for Amartya Sen in Nalanda University board !

Amartya Sen
NOBEL LAUREATE Amartya Sen’s nine-year-long association with the Nalanda University, first as a Chancellor and later as a member of the governing board, has come to an end.
Sen, who had criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, resigned as Chancellor in February 2015 and publicly lashed out at the BJP-led NDA government after stepping down. However, he continued to be a member of the governing board, as he was a part of the Nalanda Mentors Group (NMG) since 2007, which was tasked by the Manmohan Singh government with the revival of the Nalanda University.

But, according to sources, “on November 21, President Pranab Mukherjee, in his capacity as the Visitor of the Nalanda University, approved the constitution of the governing board of the university in accordance with Section 7 of the Nalanda University Act, 2010.”
Besides Sen, former Harvard professor and current Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Bose and UK-based economist Lord Meghnad Desai — who were all part of the NMG, “which was discharging the functions of the governing board” — have also not been included in the newly-constituted board.
Sources said the governing board has been constituted, with immediate effect, with the following members: “Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, five members from among the member states (India, China, Australia, Laos PDR and Thailand) which provide maximum financial assistance during a period of three years.”
“Former bureaucrat N K Singh, who is now a BJP member, has been nominated as the Indian representative. Apart from him, there are Secretary (East) in MEA, Preeti Saran, two members representing Bihar government, one member not below the rank of additional secretary in the Ministry of HRD, and three members as ‘renowned academicians / educationists’ to be nominated by the central government. These are: Professor Arvind Sharma, Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, Canada, Professor Lokesh Chandra, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Dr Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman, Niti Aayog,” said the source.

Sources said the President has also approved that the senior-most dean may be temporarily appointed to discharge the duties of the Vice-Chancellor, on completion of the extended term of the current Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal, which expires on November 24, and in the absence of a new Vice-Chancellor being appointed on or before November 25.
“This will be a stop-gap measure until the new Vice-Chancellor is appointed,” said the source.
The proposal for revival of the Nalanda University was initiated by the previous UPA government in 2007, and the NMG was formed for this purpose. Subsequently, the Nalanda University Act 2010 was passed by Parliament and came into force on November 25, 2010.
According to the Nalanda University Act 2010, the NMG was to exercise the powers of the governing board for a period of one year, with effect from November 25, 2010. “This was later extended to two more years due to the reason that financial contributions from some member states were not received,” sources said.
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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Search Starts for Next Nalanda Vice-Chancellor !!

The next governing board (GB) meeting of Nalanda University, scheduled to be held on January 29-30, will be a key one with the government keen on beginning its search for a new vice-chancellor, who will succeed Gopa Sabharwal.

The GB, which was earlier called the Nalanda Mentors Group, will meet in Rajgir, Bihar, where it will also decide on the composition of the next GB.

Gopa Sabharwal
When contacted by The Sunday Standard, a Nalanda University spokesperson denied that the issue of selecting the next vice-chancellor was on the agenda of the governing board. However, sources have clearly indicated that while the vice-chancellor will propose the agenda, efforts will be made to ensure that the selection process begins at the meeting.

In October, the GB had given an extension to Sabharwal ahead of the expiration of her term in November. Sabharwal got an extension up to one year or till the appointment of the next vice-chancellor, as per the Nalanda University Act 2010.

Sources said that the GB will be asked to set up a search committee, which will propose three names for consideration to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is the Visitor to the University. This process should not take more than three months.

Sabharwal, who has supporters in the GB, could be named as one of the three candidates, but the final decision will be taken by the President. Another important item on the agenda will be for members to decide the composition of future GBs of the university. “There will be some tweaking, but it will not be a major deviation. This will be incorporated in the Amendment Bill, which the government may be finally introduced in the next session,” said an official.

As per the university spokesperson, the “agenda (of the GB) includes discussion on all provisions of the Amendment Bill”.

The UPA government had tabled the Nalanda University Amendment Bill in September 2013, but it was then referred to the Standing Committee. The Bill covers all aspects to operate the university from its special privileges to the recruitment of officials to sources of financial resources. The report of the standing committee was released in December 2013.

When the NDA government came to power, the Amendment Bill remained in the deep freezer, with the ministry mulling its status. Last year, there was a change in helm at the top with former Singapore foreign minister George Yeo taking over from Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen as chancellor of the university. “Naturally, we wanted to consult with the chancellor about his views on the Amendment Bill,” said the official.
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