Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Politics of Academics



Prof. Chaitanya was walking briskly on the lawn with his daughter. At the age of 52 he maintained good health. After going home he would do Yoga and Pranayam and his daughter always joined him.

At home he found his wife, Priya, was waiting for him.

There was a phone call from some Prof. Jairam. He will ring again. She said.

Chaitanya knew Prof. Jairam was contesting for the post of Dean in the University. This time Prof. Chaitanya was a contestant for the Board of Studies (BOS) elections for civil engineering.

Twenty five years back, after obtaining Doctoral degree form the University of Leeds, he returned home and joined the University. All these years, he taught almost all core subjects, but the Theory of Structures was his favorite. He also had good number of publications in the reputed international journals published by Elsevier, American Concrete institute (ACI) and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In the University, he had made significant contributions developing the structure and syllabi of the civil engineering subjects.

While he was going through the newspaper headlines, telephone rang. He lifted. Prof. Jairam was on the other side.

How are you prof ! I heard you are contesting for the BOS, he asked. Yes I am, said Prof. Chaitanya.

You should support me. You know, I have support from the Rashtriya Jatiwadi Party. Our College Chairman has also promised financial support, Prof. Jairam was obviously elated.

Prof. Chaitanya could not understand the connection between the political parties and the university elections. The elections used to be conducted every five years. Since past few elections, he saw the role of political parties and their affiliations was growing. Money also played role in the underhand dealings, whispered in the University circles. Prof. Jairam was an active member of the political party and was hardly seen in the academic circles. Prof. Jairam obtained Ph. D. from a Deemed University. Prof. Chaitanya still remembered Prof. Jairam’s open defense of the Ph. D. thesis. While he made the presentation, Prof. Chaitnaya felt that he had seen similar work published in the ACI Journal. In fact, he actually checked it in the library and found that was true. He was also present for the convocation. There was not a single academician on the dais, except the poor (!) Vice Chancellor and the Dean. It was all occupied by the ruling party members at the Centre and the State.

Prof. Chaitanya always felt that there should be no elections for the University statutory bodies. Instead, eminent persons from within the University, industry, public and private organisations should be selected on these bodies.

It was a Sunday. Prof. Chaitanya contacted all the voters personally and over phone. There was another contestant aspiring for the post of Chairman BOS, Prof. Anand, fielded by Prof. Jairam, his colleague from the Deemed University. Monday was the election day and the votes counting was scheduled on Tuesday.

Tuesday evening Prof. Chaitanya returned home from the Votes Counting Centre. Priya didn’t ask him the result, it was written in his face. He had lost. 

In a country where politics occupies the academic stage, quality of education remains a far cry.

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