Citizens’ Inquiry Committee
Madurai Kamaraj University in a Mess
A public hearing, organized by the “Save Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) Coalition” took place on 22 nd March 2014 at the MUTA headquarters, Kakka Thoppu Street, Madurai – 02. The jury panel included advocate Dr. R. Krishnamurthy, Prof A. Marx, and journalist Mr. T.N. Gopalan.
As many as ten victims of the high-handedness of the MKU authorities deposed before the panel.
Apart from individual victims, some of the concerned organizations which made a presentation before the panel were, Madurai Kamaraj, Manonmaniyam Sundaranar, Mother Therasa and Alagappa University Teacher’s Association (MUTA), Federation of MKU Students and Scholars, All India Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisations (AIFUCTO), MKU Struggle Committee, MKU Faculty Association (MUFA), All India Students Association (AISA), Students Federation of India (SFI), Bharathidasan University Teachers Association, Periyar University Teachers Association, Tamil Nadu Primary Teachers’ Federation, Federation for the Differently Abled Persons, All India Democratic Womens Association, All India Insurance Employees Association, Tamil Nadu Retired Teachers’ Association, Tamil Nadu Science Forum, Democratic Youth Federation of India and the Indian School of Social Sciences.
As if by way of confirming their intolerance, the varsity authorities tried to stall the inquiry itself. It had been scheduled to be held at a prominent auditorium in the city, but the Registrar of the varsity officially protested to the police, threatening agitation by students and staff in front of the hall if the inquiry was allowed to be held there.
Citing the letter from the Registrar-in-charge Muthumanickam, police denied permission to hold the inquiry at the auditorium as planned earlier. The venue was eventually shifted to the Madurai Kamaraj University Teachers’ Association’s office.
Here is the report of the three-member panel:
A university established by the State in 1966 as an extension centre of the University of Madras and subsequently rechristened in 1978 in the name of a nationally respected statesman and democrat, K Kamaraj, known popularly as the ‘Kingmaker’, who was instrumental in taking primary education to the nook and corner of Tamil Nadu, should have ideally evolved into a national level institution.
Sadly the Madurai Kamaraj University has today degenerated into an undemocratic institution where education and research have taken the backseat, with politics and ruthlessness occupying the prime positions.
Far from empowering the underprivileged, the institution has of late been depriving its research scholars, including a disabled girl, from continuing with their meaningful academic pursuits and instead forcing them to agitate like labour unions.
The genesis for this dubious state of affairs lies in the politicisation of appointment of Vice Chancellors in the state. It peaked during the erstwhile DMK regime of 2008-11 when Prof R Karpaga Kumaravel, the son-in-law of then State Minister Ko Si Mani was appointed Vice Chancellor of the university. During his tenure there were allegations of irregularities in the appointment of faculty members. Nonetheless, Karpaga Kumaravel was not an academic nincompoop and was reasonably known among education technology circles.
Soon after his exit in March 2011 and the establishment of the AIADMK Government two months later, well-intentioned academics and faculty members of the University had given a call to appoint clean and competent persons as Vice Chancellors of State universities.
However, all expectations that a distinguished academician would be found to lead the Madurai Kamaraj University and restore its past glory were belied when the Governor-Chancellor on April 9, 2012 appointed Dr Kalyani Mathivanan as Vice Chancellor of the university. The appointment order mentioned that she was the Head of English Department at the Ethiraj College for Women, a reputed government-aided institution in Chennai. What was not mentioned in the order was that she was the daughter-in-law of late AIADMK Finance Minister V R Nedunchezhian, whose wife Visalakshi Nedunchezhian is a key member of the ruling party.
In fact, even in Chennai, not many among the enlightened academic circles had heard of an English faculty by name Kalyani Mathivanan.
Even overlooking the political interference in her appointment, her selection as Vice Chancellor was patently illegal as it violated Clause 7.3.0 of the University Grants Commission Regulations (Minimum Qualification for Appointment of Teachers, Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Other Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) 2010.
As per this Regulation “The vice-chancellor to be appointed should be a distinguished academician, with a minimum of ten years of experience as professor in a university system or ten years of experience in an equivalent position in a reputed research and/or academic administrative organisation.” Also, “Persons of the highest level of competence, integrity, morals and institutional commitment are to be appointed as vice-chancellors.”
Both these stipulations – which were not in force when Prof Karpaga Kumaravel was selected – were given a goby while appointing Dr Kalyani Mathivanan as Vice Chancellor. What is disturbing is that contrary to her claim that she was a Professor of English, documents obtained under the Right to Information Act exposed that she was only serving as an Associate Professor of English at the Ethiraj College for Women. Thus Dr Kalyani Mathivanan secured the high profile job by an act of perjury, which is now the subject matter of a litigation filed by a professor, who himself was denied the Vice Chancellorship.
Dr Kalyani Mathivanan’s defence of her act of deceit is that the post of “Professor” was abolished long before the UGC Regulations of 2010 came into force. The question then arises if that is the case where was the need for her to misrepresent her designation.
It is not as if the other applicants for the post of Vice Chancellor were less competent. In fact, documents furnished under the Right to Information Act, revealed that among the applicants for the post were seven former and present Vice Chancellors, 11 Registrars of universities, five Controllers of Examinations, 19 Directors of various academic centres, 30 Heads of University Departments, 77 University Professors and six DLitt and DSc degree holders.
Besides, the Selection Committee had alongside Dr Kalyani Mathivanan shortlisted the names of Ramasamy, a Registrar and History Professor who was fully eligible for appointment to the post and R Jayaraman, former Head of Department of Entrepreneurship, who also had over 10 years experience as Professor. Both were overlooked and Dr Kalyani Mathivanan was given the post ostensibly due to her political connections.
A writ petition challenging her appointment was filed in Aug.2012, and the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court orderedissueofquowarrantonoticeto Ms Kalyani Mathivanan, seeking to”show cause”inwhatcapacityshewasholdingthepost.
Thepetition was filedby K.V.Jeyaraj, Retd Prof of History/Former director or Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar Chair.
He submitted that as per the University Grants Commission norms, theVice Chancellortobeappointedshould beadistinguishedacademicianwitha minimum often years ofexperienceas ProfessorinaUniversity system ortenyears ofexperienceinanequivalent positionina reputedresearchandacademicadministrativeorganisation. ButthepresentVCwasonlyanAssociateprofessorin acollege,henoted.
Thoughtherewereseveraleligiblecandidates amongmorethan the 100candidates enlistedin the searchcommittee,” thepresentincumbent,whoisineligible,hadbeenappointed, andhencetheappointment shouldbesetaside,”the petitionersaid.
Thesearchcommitteewhichidentified a panel of3-5names throughapublic notification ornominationoratalent research process should give weightage to academic excellence, exposure to higher education system and experienceinacademicandadministrativegovernance,amongotherthings.
Thepetitionersought aninterim injunctionrestrainingKalayaniMathivananfrom functioningas ViceChancellorofthe MKU. Healsoprayedtoissue a writofquowarrantotoshowcauseunderwhatauthorityshewasholdingofficeofthe VCandquashherappointment.
The case is still pending. So much for the academic concerns of our courts!
That apart, when an inexperienced person with little proven record of serious academic pursuit is appointed as Vice Chancellor, she turns to issues other than education and becomes overbearing too in order to conceal her own inadequacies.
Within two months of assuming charge she shut down two hostels, asked research scholars including women to vacate their rooms overnight and chose to privatise the hostel mess operations. This led to an indefinite strike by the students and impacted academic activity in July 2012.
The standoff that commenced then has only escalated in the past two years with both students and professors being victimized, one after another.
Students and faculty members have been ruing that the Vice Chancellor has been extremely undemocratic in dealing with them. For instance in September 2012, when MUFA wanted to organise a Teachers’ Day function she shot down the request but went ahead and organised a celebration on her own at the same venue.
Not known to encourage dissent of any sort, she has come down heavily on those not toeing her line at the academic and senate meetings. Those who dared defy her diktat and raise well- intentioned questions have been ruthlessly targeted and even their students have not been spared as the case of Prof Krishnaswamy would highlight.
Prof Krishnaswamy, who is the convener of the Tamil Nadu Federation of University Faculty Associations (TANFUFA), was removed as the Head of Department of Genetic Engineering at the School of Biotechnology in the University for posing uncomfortable academic and administrative questions to the Vice Chancellor.
A well known academic in his field, he has also been popular with the students. Nothing would illustrate his affability better than the fact that all of his students immediately erupted in protest when he was removed as Head of Department.
Students who were denied UGC scholarships have been refused an audience to represent their woes and when they tried to represent to the UGC Vice Chairman H Devaraj who came to the university to attend the convocation last year, on Oct 23, 2013, the university authorities cracked down on the protesting students.
As a culmination of this persistent victimisation of Prof Krishnaswamy and students, the Vice Chancellor on December 3, 2013 ensured that a resolution was passed at the university syndicate meeting to dismiss two research scholars – C Pandiyarajan attached with the School of Chemistry and J Arun attached with the School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources. The official explanation, given by their respective guides through identically worded letters, was that they had indulged in anti-university activities.
That research scholars should be dismissed when the number of scholars pursuing research in the country has come down alarmingly speaks volumes about the leadership at the university and its concern for academic pursuit in an institution that was not long ago chosen for the UGC’s flagship University with Potential for Excellence Scheme.
This decision to expel research scholars led to spirited protests from students and research scholars lasting over 50 days.
It was in such a backdrop a citizens’ enquiry was held at Madurai.
Extracts from some depositions during the inquiry:
Prof S. Krishnaswamy, referred to earlier, narrated at length the humiliations he had to undergo at the hands of a vengeful management.
He was removed as the head of Department of Genetic Engineering (DGE) in March last year. The Registrar (in-charge) S.V. Hariharan issued a statement accusing Dr. Krishnaswamy of indulging in a “mud slinging campaign against the university authorities in gross violation of code of conduct and legal ethics” and requested the media to publish the statement “in the interest of a public institution which was (being) subjected to attack out of mala fide intention.”
He was shifted to the Centre of Excellence in Bio-informatics (CEB) as he was ineligible to hold the post of Head of DGE, a statutory department.
MKU claimed the following: He joined as an Information Scientist in the bio-informatics project of the School of Biological Sciences on a temporary basis in 1990.
In 1997, he was placed as an Information Scientist in CEB in the Professor’s scale of pay in violation of norms laid down by the University Grants Commission, the university as well as the State government. In 2001, he was re-designated as a Reader with effect from 1990 and as Professor with effect from 1997, again in violation of norms applicable for such re-designation.
He was elevated as a Senior Professor in 2007 and “erroneously” nominated as Head of the Department of Genetic Engineering in 2009, the statement claimed. “Dr. S. Krishnaswamy has been bringing discredit in a habitual manner to the university… by launching an online misinformation campaign through his old students and association friends which is a gross violation of all service rules,” it read.
Dr. Krishnaswamy said that he had been shifted from a statutory department to a less significant centre of excellence with a view to keeping him away from the university’s Academic Council and Senate meetings. “The authorities do not want anyone to raise questions at such meetings and therefore the entire exercise of shunting me out is an attempt to curtail the voice of dissent,” he said.
“After shifting me out, the university has appointed another female professor as the head. But the irony remains that the incumbent was promoted as a Professor in 2010 on the basis of clearance given by a committee comprising me. If I am ineligible to be the HOD, then she too is ineligible because her professorship itself becomes questionable,” he noted.
As the university peremptorily removed him, without even giving him a hearing, he protested strongly and students too stood by him. Some of his former students, based in foreign countries, started an online campaign seeking his reinstatement. They also sent representations to the Governor who is the Chancellor of the university.
However, Dr. S. Krishmaswamy continues to be a senior professor and Head of Centre of Excellence in Bioinformatics.
Easwari Pandaranayaka, a disabled postdoctoral fellow, submitted that she was evicted from the MKU hostel on the specious plea that she had been staying for more than 13 years and was told that post-doctoral fellows would not be given hostel accommodation , despite the fact she, as a disabled person, would be put to undue hardship if moved elsewhere. Eswari suffers from polio attack in both the legs resulting in locomotor disability of 65%, but the Vice Chancellor has sought to play down her physical issues saying she had only 25 per cent of disability whereas only 60 per cent and above deserved special consideration. What quibbling sans all humanitarian considerations!
Apparently under the impression she was not being respectful enough to her and that she was instigating students against conditions in the hostel, the VC also sought to prevent Eswari from pursuing her research further, arguing that post-doctoral work cannot be carried on with the mentor with whom PhD too had been done. However Dr. Eswari had obtained the necessary exemption from the UGC itself.
Besides, her mentor Prof. S. Krishnaswamy was declared ineligible to guide her, again on false grounds. The idea was to persecute her and evict her from the university altogether. The sheer spite of the MKU management is incredible – instead of being proud of the accomplishments of a disabled girl, and from a rural area like Theni at that, they are doing everything In their power to ruin her career. Mercifully she has obtained an interim injunction from the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.
C. Pandiyarajan joined as a UGC junior research fellow (JRF). He and several others did not receive the monthly fellowship of Rs. 16,000 for months together for reasons never made clear. Repeated representations did not help. ‘UGC has not disbursed’ would be the standard response. When the UGC vice-chairman ( H Devaraj) visited the university on 23 October 2013, the affected scholars sought to represent their grievances to him, but they were prevented from meeting him. Subsequently varsity authorities issued a show cause notice asking why action should not be taken against Pandiyarajan for allegedly bringing disrepute to the university. They also went on to cancel his PhD registration altogether, saying that his research supervisor was unwilling to guide him any further. However Pandiyarajan denies such is the case and the varsity is only seeking to victimize him for seeking to highlight the grievances of the students at various fora. Now he has managed to obtain a stay from the Madurai bench of the High Court against the cancellation of the PhD registration.
J. Arun, another junior research fellow (JRF), too suffered the same fate as Pandiyarajan, and now the High Court has come to his rescue and stayed the arbitrary cancellation of his PhD registration.
N.Ramachandran joined the service of Madurai Kamaraj University Day College, as a Part Time Lecturer in the Department of Business Administration in the year 2009 and was promoted as Teaching Assistant in the department of business administration, Madurai Kamaraj University Evening College since March, 2011. He is also a Part time Lecturer in the Department of Business Administration Madurai Kamaraj University Day College simultaneously. When the MKU day college and MKU Evening College were merged in the year 2012, as MKU College, he was shifted to MKU College as a teaching assistant. He is now under suspension. His crime? He greeted the students of Anna University college who undertook a fast in support of the Eelam Tamils. The memo no.4/MKU College/M2/2013 dated 21.03.2013 issued to him states “you were found involved in the students agitation held on 19.03.2013 within the campus of MKU College, Madurai without obtaining prior permission from the higher authorities.”
It has been argued that the programme was held on a holiday in the Anna university campus and so the question of obtaining permission from MKU authorities does not arise.
On his part, Ramachandran responded to the memo, saying, “I would humbly state to your esteemed self that I did not organize the above said agitation and therefore I had no role in getting prior permission from the higher authorities. Since it is an Agitation organized by the students belonging to technical education of the Anna University, I had no role in getting prior permission from the Anna University or MKU authorities. It is furthermore, submitted that I did sign in the attendance on the first working day but on the following day the MKU Principal had used whitener to rub-off my name and my signature and impeded me from handling classes which has created a greater stress, trauma, turbulence and turmoil in my personal, professional, and family life.
“I participated in order to maintain discipline and to see that the students do not adopt any untoward means and that they follow the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi so that no infra-structure of the college gets damaged. And only since I was present the student protest did not turn violent ”.But his pleas were in vain and since he is the sole bread winner his family is undergoing untold miseries. But his representations have fallen on deaf ears.
Dr S. Ravikumar , appointed Production Asst. in the department of Audio Visual Research Centre/Educational Multi media Research Centre (EMMRC) in 1987, subsequently made producer In 1994, has had to carry on a protracted court battle for further promotions and pay regularization. Though successful upto a certain stage, he has been victimized consistently, first shunted to a non-teaching position then suspended on charges of sexual harassment of a colleague – but seemingly without any adequate proof.
In any case he is being kept under suspension for more than a year. ‘Can an employee/teacher be kept under suspension for such a long time, without even holding an enquiry? Is it not against natural justice?’ wonder many.
Dr V Vasu of the Physics Dept who joined as a faculty in the University Grants Commission (UGC) – University with Potential for Excellence (UPE) programme in 2007, on lien from his University College, has been arbitrarily sacked, but four others junior to him have been absorbed in different positions. The matter is pending in the court. He suspects his clashes with the previous VC could have resulted in his sacking.
M.Parthasarathy, secretary of the MKU Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Employees Welfare Association, has been suspended on the basis of an anonymous petition. There was no enquiry whatsoever in to the charges made against him. Evicted from staff quarters, he has since been transferred to a constituency college.
He seems to have incurred the wrath of the management as he consistently fought for compliance with reservation norms. He also charged at the hearing that though he was abused by the VC, who referred to his caste in demeaning terms, the police refused to register any case of offence under SC/ST Atrocities Act.
Dr. P. Veeman, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, was the former President of Madurai Kamaraj University Faculty Association. He served the University for more than 30 years. He was allowed to retire in June 2013 from the University and is legally entitled for all the terminal benefits. However, due to victimisation in June 2013 he has still not been given his pension.
We would also like to list here some of the actions of the VC that grossly undermine the welfare of the students and staff:
1) Evicting without prior notice all the girl students staying in the Girls Hostel and dumping them in another hostel which is without any basic amenities. Some of the girls were even asked to stay in the library hall and TV room. Three different hostel messes were clubbed together and privatized. The private management did not care to provide sufficient food to the inmates. This incident triggered protests by the girls in July 2012. The authorities claimed that the VC only wanted to accommodate the students of the Master of Film and Electronic Media course in the girls’ hostel. If such had been the case, she should have made necessary alternative arrangements instead of driving away the poor rural girl students from their hostel.
2) B.Sc (Tourism and Hospitality Management) and M.A (Tourism Management) are taught in Madurai Kamaraj University College in Madurai for the past ten years and are very popular among the students. The Vice Chancellor on her own decided to close down these courses and start degree and PG courses in the same subject in the university itself. Two of the teachers belonging to that department in the university college have now been transferred to the newly started department in the university. The fate of the other teachers who are also members of the teachers’ association (MUTA) is in suspense.
3) The B.B.A course is taught by the business management department of the MKU college. After the present VC took charge, she started a M.B.A course which is no doubt a welcome step. By all rationality this master degree course in business management should have been attached to the same department. Instead she has started a new department for this master degree course. A parallel to this action cannot be seen anywhere. The reason behind this action is said to be that the present H.O.D of the B.B.A course is a member of the teachers association.
4) There is also this scam relating to the appointment of Principal of the American College, already in troubled waters for various reasons.
The Governing Council of the college not only advertised but also passed a resolution to appoint a Principal with qualifications prescribed by UGC. But The Most Reverend Bishop Moderator thought it fit to downscale the qualification to Post- graduation (GC Resolution No.1/10/2011).
When this was taken up before the High Court (W.P.(MD)No.3530 of 2012& W.A.(MD) No.334 of 2012), the court directed Madurai Kamaraj University to consider the qualification approval of Mr M Davamani ‘in accordance with law and on merit’ (26.04.2012).
As Mr Davamani was not qualified as per UGC Norms 2010, Madurai Kamaraj Universiyty chose to invoke UGC Norms 2000 which was no more in force and gave him approval (02. 06. 2012). When the matter went to the court again ( W.P(MD)No.2556 & 9361 of 2012 and W.A(MD)No.966 & 989 of 2012), the court not only did rule that UGC Norms 2010 must be followed but also Madurai Kamaraj University must consult the University Gants Commission on the applicability of the words ‘concerned/allied/relevant disciplines in the institution’ as given in the UGC norms before giving approval(30.01.2013).
Now MKU was faced with fresh challenges. By now, Alagappa University had withdrawn Davamani’s PhD Education- Interdisciplinary (Education & Mathematics) following complaints of fraud. Davamani was also using two other versions of his PhD.( PhD Education and PhD Education(Interdisciplinary).
In the circumstances the varsity avoided consultation with UGC as contemplated in the judgment. Second it awarded ‘yet another degree to Davamani in addition to the three already awarded by Alagappa University – ‘PhD Education with Mathematics Specialisation.’ Even more interesting, MKU awarded Davamani an API score of 427 points (against the minimum required 400 points under UGC 2010 regulation), apparently without following any norms.
Since 2010, the UGC has introduced an objective method of calculating the professional standing of candidates on the basis of weighted scores called the Academic Performance Indicator (API). For becoming a principal one needs 400 points. How come Davamani was given as many as 427 by the varsity is the issue. On 25.02.2013, hurriedly the Syndicate of MKU gave Davamani, qualification approval.
But six months after giving approval to Davamani, on 04.09.2013, Dean CDC of MKU, wrote a bizarre letter to Vice Chairman, UGC, asking him whether Davamani was eligible for the post of the Principal.
The UGC responded saying, “You follow UGC 2010.”
And Davamani continues as Principal. Clearly there is an unholy nexus operating here.
It is further learnt the Vice Chancellor has also targeted media organisations for publishing news about the democratic protests undertaken by the students. Using her proximity to the ruling party, she has influenced the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) not to release advertisements to newspapers which publish reports that are not to her liking.
The Citizens’ Inquiry Committee is shocked to see the way in which the V.C has handled the democratic aspirations of the students who approached her with their genuine demands. They were not even permitted to meet the Vice Chairman of the UGC to air their grievances such as early sanctioning of their scholarships etc when he visited the campus last year. Those students who went to meet the vice chairman were later identified and victimized.
Another scholar was victimised just because he raised his voice demanding the Indian Govt to vote for the US sponsored resolution against the Human Rights violations of Sri Lankan Govt in the UN convention held in Geneva. He was charged that he raised his voice in collusion with some “Tamil chauvinist organizations”. The V.C had conveniently forgotten that the same demand was raised by the Tamil Nadu Govt itself and a resolution in this regard was passed unanimously in the state assembly.
We agree with the faculty organizations’ contention that there is a pattern in the victimization of staff, students and scholars that most of them are office bearers of their respective organizations. When they approached the Vice Chancellor for collective bargaining, she only targeted them, branded them as trouble-makers, instructed the concerned department heads to issue show cause notices to them and finally victimized them. She has even scolded one Dalit non-teaching association office bearer mentioning his caste in a derogatory way.
What shocked us very much was the way in which two senior professors, one Dr. Ramaraj of School of Chemistry and the other Dr. S. Selvakumar of the School of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources acted in accordance with the wishes and directions of the Vice Chancellor and cancelled the Ph.D registrations of their student scholars Mr.C.Pandiyarajan and Mr.J.Arun quoting the Ph.D regulation 10.1.
The panel carefully perused the credentials as also the performance reports of these two scholars and came to the conclusion that the above professors had failed to apply their minds in acting against these two scholars and did so only to please the higher authorities. The MKU PhD regulation 10.1 is related to the academic performance of the scholars whereas the PhD registration is sought to be cancelled on the ground that they indulged “in activities which disturb the smooth functioning of the University.” The research committee of the MKU has also behaved in the same way without applying its mind. This is very disheartening as in our culture a teacher is revered as equivalent to God, next only to the parents. Moreover according to the MKU regulation 26 (a), the guide holds the responsibility for guiding his/her student till he/she completes his/her research work. These two professors have set a bad example to academic community by sending out their students before they completed the course just to satisfy the whims of an authoritarian V.C who wanted to victimize the two scholars.
In this regard we appreciate the highly reputed scholar Prof Dr. S. Krishnaswamy of the Dept of Biotechnology for standing firmly for upholding academic freedom and dignity without fear of being victimized by the V.C.
We also strongly condemn the action of the local police in not registering the complaint lodged by the SC /ST association head Mr. Parthasarathy against the Vice Chancellor under the SC/ST atrocities act. She has scolded him mentioning his caste in public, with the intention to insult him. It is a grave charge which invites the SC/ST atrocities act. Refusing to register the case is again a serious charge. If the police officer in charge does not take action on this within a reasonable time, we will ourselves move the court in this regard.
Senior educationists are disturbed. As a report in the Hindu points out – There is an overwhelming view that ‘trust factor’ is grossly missing among the vital stakeholders – administration, faculty and students – in this university which is among the nine institutions in the country to have been conferred the prestigious recognition of University with Potential for Excellence by the University Grants Commission.
The campus which has produced Vice-Chancellors for various universities in the State is facing unrest, especially since last December on a host of issues, and MKU became the centre for protests, agitations and boycott of classes by students. Amidst claims and counterclaims by varsity authorities and protesting students, the university is now longing for academic ambience instead of police making rounds to maintain calm.
Senior academicians and faculty associations have expressed their suggestions to restore peace, harmony and mutual trust in the university.
A senior administrator in higher education G. Thiruvasagam, who served as Vice-Chancellor of Bharathiar University and the University of Madras, says the first important step was to break the communication barriers between the students and the Vice-Chancellor.
“You may be a genius but if you have ego and can’t communicate freely with your faculty or students, then a VC is in trouble. My advice is that a Vice-Chancellor of any university should go beyond the syndicate, senate and academic council. They should not look at students as enemies. At the same time, teaching staff or students too should not fall prey to the hidden agenda of associations,” Dr.Thiruvasagam says.
Renowned academician and former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University M. Anandakrishnan says he feels saddened over the falling standards in the appointment of Vice-Chancellors.
“My solution for peace and progress of any university is simple. Appointment of the Vice-Chancellor should be as per UGC norms. Money should not play a role and when people with stature become VCs, then automatically they will command respect,” he observed.
While Dr.Anandakrishnan objects to loading of university syndicate with government nominees as members, he also strongly believes that Vice-Chancellors these days are unable to command respect as teachers’ associations suspect something foul.
“Any university can be good only if its leader is apolitical. When there is a perception that a VC post is possible only if you have influence, then how can you expect respect from students and teachers,” he asks.
E. Balagurusamy, a former Vice-Chancellor and Tamil Nadu Planning Commission Member (Education), too is critical of the indifferent attitude of university authorities towards students and faculty everywhere.
“When I was the VC of Anna University, I used to go to the canteen, buy a token and take lunch along with the students. Leaders have to be informal and only then the students would think that you are for them whatever be the issue. The focus is missing these days. When we don’t care for them, then why will they care for us,” he asks.
Dr.Balagurusamy points out that issues are becoming complicated in institutions of higher education because students have lost interest in education since teachers have lost interest in students. “A Vice-Chancellor need not pamper students but at least try to help them. By doing that, any unrest in the institutions can be solved and no one will fight with you,” he adds.
a) After perusing all the statements of the victims and the relevant documents connected with the actions taken by the university administration we conclude unanimously that the actions taken which includes dismissal, demotions and transfers, against the following staff, students and scholars are illegal and are in violation of established rules. Those affected are 1) Dr. S, Krishnaswamy, Senior Professor, Dept of Biotechnology 2) Dr.S.Ravikumar, Producer, Education Multi Media Research Centre 3) Dr. Easwari Pandaranayaka, Post Doctoral Fellow under the mentorship of Dr.Krishnaswamy 4) Mr. Arun, Research Scholar 5) Mr. Pandiyarajan 6) Mr. Parthasarathy, Asst, MKU and the Gen. Sec., SC /ST Association 7) Mr. Ramachandran, MKU college, Madurai 8) Dr.Vasu, Associate Professor of Physics, MKU. We demand all these eight people should be reinstated in their original positions immediately.
b) Delay in the disbursement of stipends and scholarships to scholars and students is one of the major reasons for the student unrest in the campus. We cannot blame the V.C and the university management alone for this delay. The U.G.C and the state departments should release the funds in proper time so as to benefit the students. In prestigious varsities such as J.N.U these are distributed without delay. The same should be followed for other universities also. However the university management also should take necessary action on its part to get the amount sanctioned in time. Similar efforts should also be made to get the university grants for the salary of the teachers working in the university college so that the salaries of the teachers are distributed in time.
c) All the teachers working in consolidated pay must be made permanent with regular pay.
d) Immediate action should be taken to fill up the SC/ ST vacancies in the teaching and non teaching departments following the roster system.
e) We request His Excellency the Governor of Tamil Nadu and the Chancellor of MKU to establish a high level academic committee which includes reputed Professors serving in other state and central universities to enquire into all the excesses and patently illegal activities of the Vice Chancellor Dr. Kalyani Mathivanan.
The selection process of the Vice Chancellors should be radically altered. A national debate among the academicians is necessary in this regard. The present process leads to all sorts of corruption and in practice the post is virtually auctioned off to the highest bidder or sometimes the vacancies are filled with the relatives of the ruling party politicians.
We strongly believe that the root cause of the present academic unrest in MKU is the authoritarian and undemocratic attitude of the present Vice Chancellor who earned this post merely because she is a close relative of a former minister and a present ruling party heavy weight.
She is in no way suitable or qualified to lead a renowned university. We request the High Court Bench in Madurai, where Dr. Mathivanan’s appointment has been challenged, to expedite the proceedings and deliver justice as early as possible so that academic peace in this reputed university may be restored.
Dr. R. Krishnamoorthy
Prof. A Marx