The Panjab University syndicate, in its meeting scheduled on Saturday, will be taking a decision on the appointment of Prof Neera Grover, wife of PU vice-chancellor Prof Arun Grover, in the department of music for a period of one year.
Interestingly, a committee of the music department held a meeting on July 5 about 20 days before Prof Grover was to take over as the new vice-chancellor to discuss his wife's appointment. The department, in its letter to former V-C Prof RC Sobti on July 5, had mentioned that since the department was facing an acute shortage of staff, the name of Prof Neera Grover be cleared for appointment for a period of one year as per calendar rule vol 1 point 5 a (i). The rule says that it is only the V-C who can make such appointments. While Prof Sobti did not take any decision in this regard, the new V-C, not wanting to invite any flak, sent the request to the syndicate for approval.
The letter also said that the department had also raised the issue of shortage of faculty last year, but the posts were not filled. However, the department had then not specifically mentioned the name of any professor who could be appointed for a short span. Prof Grover joined as V-C on July 23 over a month after his name was cleared for the post by the chancellor's department.
When asked as to what took the department over a year to ask the university authorities to clear the name, especially when it was facing a staff crunch, Prof Arvind Sharma, chairperson of the department, said, "It was the decision of the faculty, and I simply forwarded it. Prof Neera Grover is quiet talented and it will be our good fortune if her appointment is cleared."
Sharma failed to give a satisfactory reply when asked why the department did not appoint some other faculty member for the past one year if it was really facing a shortage of staff.
The issue has already raised many eyebrows and is bound to invite more flak for PU officials.
"This is more like a back-door entry. If filling the post was really so urgent, the department could have conducted an interview anytime and finalised a faculty member. The item relating to Prof Neera Grover's appointment is likely to get approved in the syndicate as no one will want to lock horns with the new V-C," a syndicate member said.
Sharma said Prof Neera Grover's name was approved because she had been associated with the department for long. The department did not consider any other candidate before her name was finalised by the committee, he said.
Gul Panag's case to be considered, too
Another interesting item that will come up for discussion in the syndicate meeting is the permission to film actress Gul Panag to enrol for MA-II (political science). According to university rules, students wanting to enrol themselves in the second year of a post-graduation degree course should have cleared their first year exam not more than five years ago while making a request to the university. Gul Panag, a correspondence student, had cleared her first year in 2002.
At present, Prof Neera Grover is the head of the music department at Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women's University at Mumbai. She has had just eight PhD students under her in her 20 years of teaching career. She had joined SNDT Women's University in 1995 and became head of the department in 2007. She is an alumna of Panjab University.