Governor and chancellor of the State’s universities is optimistic that with the reforms in place, Madhya Pradesh could vie with top states in excellence in higher education one day. He enthusiastically explained nuances of the recommendations. All along the conversation the Governor maintained that his well-meaning reforms should not be seen through a political prism. Neither should these be construed as a move to empower vice chancellors at the expense of registrars. Rakesh Dixit spoke to him at length on implications of the administrative reforms. Here are excerpts
What prompted you to undertake the reforms?
I found plight of our universities quite appalling. Academic calendars are in a shambles, work distribution messy, coordination missing, education below standard…. I thought this is not the way to run a university. Steps are immediately needed to set things in order. And now Ujjain professor’s killing has shocked the nation. This is very disgusting. See, what kind of people have infiltrated universities. Those who assaulted the professor were men of 40 something.
What business did they have in student politics?
I’m not talking about any particular group. Every party must understand that college campuses should be for students only. That’s why I have suggested some changes in our student union election rules. You intentions may be noble but there is apprehension that the proposed reforms are intended to curtail registrars’ and, by extension, the Higher Education department’s powers. Far from it. In fact, I have tried to lessen the registrars’ burden.
Tell me, why should one person carry the burden of conducting examinations, managing finances and running administration in a university? Others should also share the burden. I want to emphasise here that registrars’ powers as enshrined in the University Act 1973 would be protected at all cost. There should be no room for apprehension on that count. These reforms are quite pragmatic. We have not sought to add financial burden on the state exchequer. Only powers have been decentralised.
It is being said the Chancellor cannot amend the rules. To this end, a bill needs to be introduced in the State Assembly. No, the Chancellor has the powers under the University Act 1973. I had the report examined by the Law Department which opined that no separate bill is needed to carry out necessary amendments in the rules.
But the State Government seems to think otherwise I don’t want any confrontation. My only aim is to see definite improvement in higher education. If the State Government itself wishes to shoulder this responsibility, I’m all for it. There is a subtle political undertone in the apprehension. Politics should have absolutely no room in such endeavours. No one should see them from the glasses of the Congress or the BJP. This is a regrettable flaw of the present times.
The fast pace with which the report was conceptualised, prepared, submitted and then implemented is normally not observed in government functioning This is my way of working. I’m Governor not government.
How soon you wish to see a perceptible change in the universities through reforms?
Can’t give any time frame. It will take time. But level of higher education will definitely improve.
What was your dream when you asked for a report on reforms?
To see the boys and girls of Madhya Pradesh universities vie with most brilliant students in the rest of India. I felt bad when in a law university managers rather condescendingly remarked if all seats could not be filled, we may pick up students from MP’s university to fill the rest.