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VCs told to submit weekly activity report to Guv; minister says higher education dept kept in dark

April 8, 2023

April 7, Vice-Chancellors of all state-run universities in West Bengal have been asked to submit weekly activity reports to Governor C V Ananda Bose, as the Chancellor of these institutions.

The directive drew a sharp response from the state government on Friday with state Education Minister Bratya Basu stating the Governor’s missive without taking the state higher education department into confidence has “no legal validity”.

The standoff reminiscent of the conflict between the earlier governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and TMC-run government over control of the state universities could spoil the bonhomie between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Bose.

Basu urged the Governor to withdraw the letter and sit with the government to discuss “any confusion and dispel all ambiguities”.

The developments come in the backdrop of the state government reversing its earlier decision to make the chief minister the chancellor of state universities during the tenure of Dhankhar when the state had objected to his alleged meddling in the autonomy of state varsities by his various “unilateral” actions, including convening meetings with VCs and going against government recommended names as new vice-chancellors.

The state education minister recently said Bose will continue to be the Chancellor of state universities, not the chief minister, and the state foresaw no problem working with him on university matters.

Meanwhile, vice-chancellors of two universities told PTI on Friday that they have received a letter in this regard from the Governor’s Secretariat.

The letter, sent by a joint secretary-level officer of the Governor’s Secretariat on April 4, said “weekly activity report shall be submitted on the last working day of the week by email and any decision which has financial implications may be submitted for prior approval of the Hon’ble chancellor”.

“Vice-Chancellors can contact the Hon’ble Chancellor over telephone or mail on any major issue through the ADC (Major Nikhil Kumar),” the letter said giving a mobile no and email ID for contacting Kumar.

Debasis Ghosh, Senior Special Secretary to the Governor, will coordinate university matters in the Raj Bhavan, it said.

Taking strong exception to the letter, Basu told reporters that the letter was issued by the Governor without taking the government into confidence and he had no inkling about the letter before being told about it by VCs of some universities.

“The relationship between the Governor and VCs is not that of competition but one of cooperation and coordination. In UGC surveys, our state universities, which enjoy absolute functional autonomy, occupy high ranks.

“We don’t want any fight with the Governor’s office. On previous occasions, we had held joint press meets with the Governor where both sides asserted to work in synergy and close coordination. This letter is not in sync with that spirit,” Basu said.

The VC of a state-run university, not wishing to be named, told PTI that her office has already received the letter, and to her knowledge, different state varsities all across the state received the same.

“… This is an official communique from the Hon’ble Chancellor’s office, asking for weekly updates about the functioning of the educational institute. We will act accordingly,” she said.

Another VC of a premier university also confirmed having received the letter but did not wish to comment.

In early March, the Governor held a meeting with Vice Chancellors of all state universities and the education minister for better synergy and coordination in running academic-administrative affairs.

Source: PTI

Also Read: WB: Calcutta High court sets aside reappointment of 24 vice-chancellors

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