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The controversial Vice Chancellor of Banares Hindu University, Professor Girish Chandra Tripathi’s has now gone on leave indefinitely. It turns out he was not only a disaster for the university but was also eroding the credibility of the reputed Indian Institute of Technology on campus as its Chairperson, Board of Governors. The Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj mentioned IITs among India’s achievements in the United Nations General Assembly speech but this VC could care less.

His name was not there in the panel of five for appointment to Chairman, Board of Governors of IIT at BHU, yet he was foisted upon IIT by the then Minister for Human Resources Development Smriti Irani. Irani’s educational qualification is suspect and Tripathi’s academic record is dubious, with no research publication in his name to date. As mediocre people meddled in the affairs of academic institutions of national and international importance, it was bound to boomerang at some point. While Irani had to be replaced as Minister of HRD because of mishandling campus after campus, Tripathi now stands thoroughly exposed as anti-intellectual, intransigent, morally bankrupt, patriarchal, arrogant, irrational and tyrannical administrator. His capacity for shamelessness is unfathomable. Three days after the incident of sexual harassment on campus on 21 September which snowballed into a major controversy, he tried to regularise the appointment of Dr. O.P. Upadhyay, convicted of sexual misconduct by a Fiji Court, as Medical Superintendent of the Hospital on campus. It was because of his trying to push such cases of inappropriate candidates that Professor at IIT Gandhinagar, Michel Danino, also a member of Indian Council of Historical Research, had resigned from the university’s executive council in 2015 November.

Tripathi treated the University as his fiefdom and the IIT a toy to play with. It turns out that he had not finalised the minutes of meeting of IIT Board of Governors held on 8 July, 2016 with more than a year having elapsed. Until these minutes are passed next meeting cannot take place. Other members of the Board suggested to him to call a meeting to finalise the minutes. But Tripathi remained incommunicado on this issue.

As a result of Tripathi’s shortsightedness important decisions are pending implementation. Appointments of five Deans of IIT – that of Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Research and Development, Alumni Affairs and Faculty Affairs – has been put on hold as acting Deans manage the day-to-day affairs. Besides the Director, Deans play an important role in running of IITs. Several appointments, especially security related, are also awaiting finalisation of Board decisions. In the light of recent events on campus the importance of security appointments cannot be underestimated. But the most serious damage it has caused to the IIT is that democratic functioning of administration has been usurped. Whereas in the normal course decisions were taken in Board meetings and implemented, now since the last over one year every decision has been personally approved by the Vice Chancellor as Board’s chair with other members having no say.

According to rules at least two meetings should be held every year. Only a special meeting was held in June 2017 to approve the pay scale in which the VC refused to discuss the approval of minutes of 8 July 2016 meeting saying that special meeting was called to discuss only a specific matter. He almost held the institution to ransom. Now that he has been made to proceed on indefinite leave, the situation of Chairperson, IIT Board of Governors has been left in a limbo. The IIT is in a state of uncertainty not knowing what is in store for future. It is unthinkable that it didn’t prick a pygmy VC’s conscience, who subscribes to an ideology which constantly harps on nationalism, that he was hampering the functioning of an institute which is a symbol of national pride.

It would be instructive to see who the various chairpersons of several other IITs are? IIT Kanpur, Board is headed by R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Udyog Ltd., IIT Delhi by Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group, IIT Mumbai by Dilip Sanghvi, Chairman, Sun Pharma, IIT Kharagpur by Sanjiv Goenka, Chairman, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, IIT Chennai by Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd., IIT Guwahati by Dr. Rajiv Modi, Chairman & MD of Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and IIT Roorkee may have a new Chairman in the form of Anil Kakodkar. Most IIT Boards are chaired by industry leaders who are there because of their vision and dynamism. Can we imagine any of them sitting on minutes of a Board meeting for over a year?

Let us compare Tripathi with the names that were originally proposed by the IIT Board from among whom it wanted its chairperson to be chosen. The panel of five included N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, Pankaj Chandra, earlier Director of Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru and now VC, Ahmedabad University, Kiran Karnik, presently one of the Directors of Reserve Bank of India, Sanjay Dhande, former Director, IIT Kanpur and Narendra Ahuja, formerly Professor at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. All of them established themselves and build their credibility over years. What is Girish Chandra Tripathi’s claim to hold this prestigious position? He has no achievements to show in any field which makes him fit to be even a Professor, leave aside positions of VC and Chairperson of Board of Governors, that too of an IIT.

The performance of G.C. Tripathi has been so hopeless that even the persons involved in elevating him to a position for which he was not deserving must be taken to task.



By Sandeep Pandey

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