The Delhi University is likely to have a new vice chancellor shortly, and the chances are that the new incumbent may not be an “insider”, but a professor of eminence from outside.
The three-member search committee headed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman Prof Ved Prakash and comprising D.P. Aggarwal, former chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), and Vinod Rai, former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), has finalised a panel of four names for the consideration of the President, who is also the “visitor” of the university.
Out of the four picked from a shortlist of 13 distinguished academicians, only Prof Bidyut Chakravarty of the Political Science Department is an insider. The other three — Prof Hem Chandra Gupta, member, UPSC and formerly with IIT, Delhi; Prof Rameshwar Nath Koul Bamezai of the Life Sciences Department of the Jawaharlal Nehru University; and Prof Yogesh Tyagi of the recently created South Asian University — are also in consideration for the coveted post.
Sources said that the search committee interviewed all the 13 shortlisted candidates extensively before arriving at their decision. Out of the 13, six were from within the Delhi University and seven from outside. The list of 13 was drawn up after screening more than 125 applicants for the job, which fell vacant after the completion of Prof Dinesh Singh’s tenure as vice chancellor, October end.
Prof Chakravarty is an eminent political scientist, who had to face charges of sexual harassment some years ago, but his name was cleared by the High Court. Prof Hem Chander Gupta was appointed the vice chancellor of Meerut University recently, but resigned from his job prematurely after serving for just two months because of an agitation there. Prof Bamezai, like Prof Gupta, is 63 years old and has distinguished himself in his discipline. He is an alumnus of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Prof Tyagi was, until very recently, with the JNU as a professor of International Studies.
Sources said that in accordance with the procedure, a vigilance inquiry by the respective departments and universities would be conducted before the names of the four panellists are sent to the Ministry for Human Resources Development (MHRD) for being forwarded to the President for final selection. Normally, the MHRD does convey its preference for a nominee, but the final authority lies with the President, who could choose either of the four professors or may even add someone of his choice. In the past, President K.R. Narayanan had appointed a VC whose name was not among the final panelists. However, it is unlikely that President Pranab Mukherjee would do something of this nature.
Other than Delhi University, the process for appointing a new VC even in the JNU has been initiated and the prestigious university could have a new boss in January when the term of Prof Sudhir Sopory, an eminent scientist, ends.
The DU Vice Chancellor’s selection had been delayed after the President had directed the Executive Council in October to nominate a member for the Search Committee to replace Dr Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, former Head of the Indian Space Research Organsation (ISRO).
The first meeting of the panel was slated to be held on 9 October to screen the applications, but Kasturirangan sent an email to the ministry asking for clarity on whether he could be on the selection committee since he had been appointed as an Honorary Professor for Life by the Delhi University in 2013.
The ministry took a serious note of Dr Kasturirangan’s letter since Delhi University’s statutes make it amply clear that members of the Selection Committee should have no association of any kind with the Delhi University. The ministry apparently held the then VC Prof Dinesh Singh responsible for the faux pas. However, Prof Dinesh Singh described Kasturirangan’s selection as “an oversight” while narrowing on an eminent expert for the Search Committee.