A 42-page report by the state’s higher education council’s three-member fact finding team has accused Tapati Basu, Calcutta University’s former head of department (HoD), for journalism and mass communications, of being ‘dishonest’, ‘spiteful’, ‘autocratic’, ‘arbitrary’, ‘feudal’ and an out-and-out liar. The report was handed over to the state’s education department before recommending stripping her of all administrative powers.
In a hitherto unprecedented move, the report recommended the removal of all administrative powers of the present HoD and early appointment of senior professor(s) and other full-time faculty members as per existing vacancies. Basu was the HoD when the report was submitted on August 30, but registrar Basab Chowdhury has subsequently taken over. Financial irregularities were also reported in the department. “We are going to table the report at the syndicate meeting soon,” vice chancellor Suranjan Das told HT.
“I have not seen the report and will not comment on it,” said Basu on Monday when HT contacted her on the telephone seeking her reaction.
The committee was set up in June and comprised Dr Subrata Ghosh, member-secretary, higher education council, Subal Biswas, professor library and information science of Burdwan University and former journalist Buroshib Dasgupta. “We have heard the report has been submitted though we do not know its contents. We will look forward to the decision of the syndicate,” said Srabani Roy, the initial complainant and now a teacher of Asutosh College.
The three-member team was formed in order to probe allegations of irregularities in selecting PhD candidates in 2010. Of 40 applicants, the department selected 32 for the PhD programme. The council ordered a probe after receiving complaints that candidates were not selected on merit and university and UGC regulations were flouted.
HT accessed the 42-page report of the committee, which was so astonished at the alleged irregularities in the department that it made the following comment, “We feel it is not only a case of violation of PhD Regulations, but also an unthinkably ugly attempt to deceive the Fact-finding team.
The committee also wrote, “Immediate disbanding of the existing PhD Committee and fresh appraisal of PhD supervisors should be undertaken. The Departmental Committee should be formed anew. A new interdisciplinary PhD Committee should be constituted as per the extant statutory provisions.
The PhD Admission Programme of 2010 in J&MC needs to be cancelled immediately and a fresh selection of PhD candidates to be made under the supervision of a newly constituted Departmental Committee and interdisciplinary PhD Committee.”
“We are certain that there was a distinct lack of transparency and fairness in the selection of the candidates. The selection was flawed and biased,” said the report. Most significantly, the committee stepped beyond its mandate to investigate the PhD selection process and commented on the general functioning of the department.
“The existing professors, have misused their position in not only selecting weak visiting faculty for the university’s own department, but also built a network of candidates, mostly not up to the mark, from the affiliated colleges of the university. This network needs to be broken. Fairness and quality must return to media studies in the university,” the report said.
The fact-finding team pointed out the corruption in fund utilisation by the department. “Both the utilization of DSA funds and the entire issue of conference organization raise doubts regarding their management. There are indications of fund diversions and misuse, which demands full-fledged probe,” a member of the panel said.