Monday, March 12, 2012

Kapil Sibal rejects Nitish's varsity demand again

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has made it clear that the permanent campus of the Central University of Bihar will be in Gaya. In a letter to chief minister Nitish Kumar, he reiterated the rationale behind the Centre's decision and appealed to Kumar to not let politics come in the way of providing quality education. The state government is adamant that the university be located in Motihari, and has a resolution of the state assembly backing its demand. The temporary location of the university is in jeopardy too after the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT) asked it to vacate the premises.

Kumar had written to Sibal on February 29 stressing that the university be located in Motihari, given its association with the freedom struggle. The chief minister made it clear that the state government would provide free land in Motihari for the purpose. In his letter, Sibal refuted Kumar's allegation that the Centre had acted in a "unilateral" manner in finalising the university's location.

"For the last two years, the Central Government is in correspondence with State Government seeking alternative options for locating the Central University of Bihar. I made a public request to you during my visit to Patna for options. In response, the State Government indicated that they would not countenance any location other than Motihari for the Central University... I beseech you to accept the decision for locating the Central University of Bihar at Gaya and proceed ahead. You are aware that the Central University of Bihar is under pressure to shift from its present temporary campus. We have already lost a few years in identifying an appropriate location," Sibal wrote.

Citing examples from Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Kumar accused the Centre of applying different yardsticks across states for deciding locations for central universities. Sibal responded to this by saying that while the ministry had initially agreed to the idea of setting up central universities in locations suggested by the state, the experience in Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Karnataka had prompted a rethink.

"There has been severe disquiet in the academic community on the selection of sites in certain locations... The difficulties being faced by some of the Central Universities - most notably in Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Karnataka - in attracting quality faculty due to the disadvantage of their location have been discussed numerous times, even receiving adverse comment in the media," Sibal wrote.

Source: The Economic Times, March 12, 2012

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