The government on Friday rejected Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's contention that it does not want him to continue as Nalanda University Chancellor, saying there was no attempt to ‘curtail’ his tenure and claimed that it was yet to receive the approved minutes of the Governing Board of Nalanda University.
Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said the ministry cannot act as it was yet to receive the approved minutes of the meeting of the GBNU, which happened last month.
However, Sen said the minutes were sent a fortnight back and virtually everyone has confirmed the minutes but for the ministry.
Sen, who has long been a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a letter to the GBNU withdrew his candidature for a second term as Nalanda University chancellor, blaming the absence of government's approval for delay in nod from the Visitor, President Pranab Mukherjee, to his name even though the recommendation was sent to him over a month.
"This delay, as well as the uncertainty involved, is leading, in effect, to a decisional gap, which is not helpful to NalandaUniversity's governance and its academic progress. I have, therefore, decided that in the best interest of Nalanda University, I should exclude myself from being considered for continuing as chancellor beyond this July, despite the unanimous recommendation and urging of the governing board for me to continue," Sen has written in his letter.
Akbaruddin said that in the draft minutes of the GBNU, there were two options either to continue with Sen or the Visitor (Mukherjee) seeking three shortlisted names from the
Board to appoint the successor of the Nobel laureate. "It was up to the Visitor to take a decision," the spokesperson added.
Akbaruddin added that the draft minutes were distributed on February 13 by the GBNU giving two weeks time to submit the comments. The two-week deadline ends on February 27.
After this stipulated time period only, the final approved minutes will be out, the Spokesperson added.
Sen, also a Bharat Ratna awardee, rued that academic governance in India remains ‘so deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling government’.
"Even though the Nalanda University Act, passed by Parliament, did not, I believe, envisage political interference in academic matters, it is formally the case -- given the legal provisions (some of them surviving from colonial days) -- that the government can turn an academic issue into a matter of political dispensation if it feels unrestrained about interfering," he said.