The Chancellor of Nalanda University, George Yeo on Friday, resigned from his post citing the government intervention in the University’s autonomy. His resignation comes incidentally on the Foundation Day of the University.
In a strongly worded letter to the authorities of the institution, he cited when he was invited to take charge he was “repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now”.
Yeo said that his decision was instigated by the Visitor’s decision to dissolve the governing board including Economist Amartya Sen,Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Bose and Megnad Desai. Sen was the Chancellor before Yeo and decided not to seek a second term citing government interventions in the proceedings.
Yeo,in his letter, goes on to say,
“When I was appointed Chancellor in July 2015, 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. … 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 is amended. This is of course entirely the prerogative of the Government of India.
Pending the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor, the incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Dr Gopa Sabharwal, whose extended term ended on 24 November, was to stay on as interim Vice-Chancellor until the new Vice-Chancellor is in place, to ensure that there is no hiatus in the leadership of the University. This is provided for in the University Statutes and fully supported by the old Governing Board. However, on 22 November, 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 possibly harmful to the University’s development. It is puzzling why I, as Chancellor, was not even given notice of it.
…It has been an honour and a privilege for me to be associated with the revival of Nalanda over the last decade, to serve as a member of the Nalanda Mentors Group and the Governing Board under the leadership of Amartya Sen, and to be appointed its second Chancellor. Despite difficult circumstances, the University has made remarkable progress through the tireless effort of Dr Gopa Sabharwal and her colleagues.”