Kakodkar skips 2nd meeting to decide IIT directors

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 22, 2015 23:36 IST

Nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar who resigned from the board of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, after a tiff with human resource development minister Smriti Irani over the selection of directors at IITs, skipped the second meeting called for the same on Sunday.

Out of nine members, three, including Kakodkar, did not attend the meeting called to select the director for three IITs — Patna, Ropar and Bhubaneswar.

Kakodkar’s absence has come as an embarrassment to Irani who, after his resignation, had claimed that he would be a part of the second meeting.

HT had first reported that five out of the nine members, including Kakodkar, had written to the ministry saying they would not attend the meeting. Other who did not show up included industrialist Lila Poonawalla and former director of IIT-Madras MS Ananth.

Two other panel members, former DRDO chief VK Saraswat and IIT-Patna chairman Ajay Choudhary, who had said they would not come attended the meeting via Skype.

The selection committee interviewed 36 candidates who had to give five-minute presentations on why they should be selected as director’s for the new IITs. The panel is understood to have finalised three names each for the IITs and have forwarded them to President Pranab Mukherjee, Visitor to the IITs, for final approval.

IIT faculty members Sarit Kumar Das and Pushpak Bhattacharya who were earlier shortlisted to head IIT Bhubaneswar and IIT Patna, respectively in the first meeting are likely to figure in the shortlisted candidates.

The selection committee’s first meeting had proved inconclusive as differences had cropped up over a candidate who was called for the interview but did not belong to the original 37 shortlisted.

Professor Manoj Datta of IIT-Delhi was zeroed in as the director of IIT Ropar by the selection committee but was vetoed by Irani who is understood to have preferred another candidate professor Rajiv Shekhar of IIT-Kanpur who was among the 12 out of the original 37.

Following the dispute, the ministry decided to call all the shortlisted nominees again for interviews on Sunday, leading to Kakodkar’s resignation.

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