The Osmania University in Hyderabad has incurred a loss of Rs 30 crore it had spent on arrangements for the prestigious Indian Science Congress’ 105th edition, an event it lost to the Manipur Central University. Losses were coupled with a fresh round of protests by several students’ unions who are demanding the resignation of the vice-chancellor and the registrar for the fiasco.
The event, scheduled between 3 and 7 January 2018, was to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As many as 12,000 delegates including 15 Nobel laureates were expected to attend. However, due to inability of the OU authorities and Telangana government to ensure security of the PM on the campus, the event was cancelled barely 10 days before it was to take place.
The Indian Science Congress Association, which organises the event, held a meeting at Kolkata on 27 December and decided to postpone it to 17-21 March 2018 and shift the venue to Manipur Central University, Imphal. However, the final dates will be finalised in January first week after the PMO confirms the PM’s availability.
The OU has suffered a loss of face at the international level. All major students’ unions including ABVP, SFI and AISF have launched an agitation on the campus seeking the resignation of the vice-chancellor Prof S. Ramachandram and registrar Dr Gopal Reddy for their failure to hold the ISC here. The students took to streets and burnt effigies of the OU authorities and the chief minister of Telangana K. Chandrasekhar Rao and forced shutdown of the colleges at OU campus, leading to cancellation of all exams.
The OU campus was on the boil since the ISC was postponed on 21 December despite the authorities trying their best to pacify the students. VC Prof Ramachandram said in a students’ rally on 22 December that he would be sending two senior professors to attend the ISCA meeting in Kolkata.
Prof T. Parthasarathi and Prof B. Redya Naik were dashed to the ISCA’s emergency executive meeting where they tried to impress the organisers that the OU was still in a position to host the event, albeit at a later date.
Besides OU, five other varsities—Manipur Central University, Imphal; Andhra University, Visakhapatnam; Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar; SAGE University, Indore and Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand University, Bareili had offered to host the event.
According to Prof Parthasarathi, who spoke to The Sunday Guardian, the Manipur University had submitted letters of assurance from Governor Najma Heptulla and BJP Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, saying full-proof security arrangements would be ensured if they were allowed to host the event. “We could not produce similar letters from our government on the security and safety of the delegates and mainly the PM,” said Prof Parthasarathi. The safety aspect clinched the issue in favour of Manipur varsity. Moreover, this is the second time that the ISC is being held in a north-eastern state of India. It was held in Meghalaya capital Shillong in 2009.