Manipur University: In search of a new VC

We need a professor with academic excellence and impeccable integrity who understands the local dynamics. Yet, we would like a Manipur University without its infamous Engineering Cell, where the construction activities are entrusted either to a state or central agency.

Faizan Mustafa, VC of NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad once said, “A VC is the keeper of the university’s conscience. As head of the university, a VC is expected to function as a bridge between the administrative and academic wings of the university and that’s why the VC, in all university acts, is called an ‘officer’ of the university rather than purely the academic head. It is to facilitate this role that universities are always in search of those with leadership qualities and integrity in addition to academic excellence and administrative experience.” The qualifications for a VC were for the first time laid down by the UGC in 2010. As per this, a VC should be a distinguished academician with 10 years’ experience as a professor, and should have impeccable integrity and morals.

Following the dismissal of Adya Prasad Pandey from the post of Vice-Chancellor of Manipur University on charges of his alleged involvement in administrative and financial irregularities, the process of appointment of a new VC has gained momentum in the last few days. In an inquiry report, Pandey was found indulging in financial and administrative irregularities, including misconduct, dereliction of duties, abuse of power and lack of commitment, causing great harm to the academic environment and bringing the university into disrepute, according to an order issued by the Government of India.

Appointed as Vice-Chancellor of Manipur University on October 26, 2016, Pandey was placed under suspension in 2018 after violent protests erupted on campus, which led to the prolonged shutdown of the university. The protest was launched by the Manipur University Students’ Union, later on joined by teachers and other staff members. In his absence, former Chief Secretary of Manipur Jarnail Singh has been serving as administrator of the University, following an order of the High Court of Manipur.

Manipur University came into being in 1980 from the remnants of the JNU Centre at Canchipur with the likes of eminent academician and physicist BD Nag Chaudhuri and Prof PK Basu as its founding Syndicate members. Like Prof Pandey, the first VC of Manipur University Prof Rotho was given forced leave following a prolonged agitation by the students protesting his arrogance and maladministration. Prof KJ Mahale, the second VC practically built up the University from the ashes and took it to new heights. A string of VCs followed, but none as notable as Prof Mahalewe need a professor with academic excellence and impeccable integrity who understands the local dynamics. Yet, we would like a Manipur University without its infamous Engineering Cell, where the construction activities are entrusted either to a state or central agency.. He is still remembered dearly. When it was converted into a Central University in 2005, the academic atmosphere in MU campus suddenly changed. With the infusion of Central funds, the campus became a haven for contractors with the Engineering Cell of the University as the centre-piece. Even professors with impeccable academic record in their fields got sucked into the lure of contract works and its frills, while academics was thrown to the winds. Manipur University fell in the All India University rankings. Then, Adya Prasad Pandey came to the scene. The university community had no use for him and he had to finally go. Now, the question is why did Rotho and Pandey failed. The most important factor was that both of them did not understand the complexities of Manipur nor did they tried. Both of them treated Manipur like a backwater which immensely hurt the pride of the Manipuris. So,

That would certainly bring back the lost glories of the then Manipur University.

First Published:Aug. 18, 2020, 7:21 a.m.