When I joined Presidency University of Kolkata, as a student of English literature, two years ago, it was with pride and dreams and hope. And now that pride is dashed and hope seems far-off as I witness the departure of our brilliant and beloved professors and administrators.
The last few days have left the university bereft of its Dean of Students’ Affairs and the Dean of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. The Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose chair professor too has resigned. The Head of the History Department quit a couple of months ago. Several professors have been transferred to other State-run colleges.
The new regime at Presidency, busy to play politics, has failed to retain the varsity’s best.
The Centre of Exodus
The self-proclaimed ‘Centre of Excellence’ has suffered a steady outflow of faculty ever since the beginning of the tenure of the current Vice Chancellor Anuradha Lohia. The university registrar Prabir Dasgupta was transferred to Durgapur Government College last August, which the authority claimed to be a “routine move”. But it cannot be a coincidence that our “PDG Sir”, who vehemently protested against the 2013 vandalism of campus by Trinamul, was removed by the Trinamul-run state government.
In May this year, the Head of the History Department, Prof. Shukla Sanyal resigned from her post “out of a sense of hurt and humiliation”. Art historian Tapati Guha Thakurta was shocked at the way the university handled this sensitive affair, calling Dr. Sanyal’s exit “the end of the history department at Presidency”.
Within the last few months 5 professors from various departments, including the head of the maths department, have been transferred by the state government to fledgling colleges in remote areas despite acute staff-crunch in our university.
Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose chair professor of Natural Sciences, has quit 2 months before his lien ended. Prof. Bhattacharya complained of a “lack of pluralism”, and professed to “leave with a heavy heart” because the general state of West Bengal is “detrimental to academic excellence”.
There has been a huge student outburst over the resignation of our beloved Dean of Students Deboshruti Roychowdhury whom the authority harassed and humiliated. Prof. Somak Raychaudhury, head of the physics department and Dean of science, will also leave as he has been offered the post of director at IUCAA.
A Menace to Education
The authority has repeatedly claimed that esteemed scholars and professors are leaving Presidency for more prestigious and higher-paying positions elsewhere. However, I wonder: why would our professors, who left positions at famous foreign institutes to come to Presidency, quit on financial ground?
The real reasons are far more sinister. In the TMC-run West Bengal, politics has become a threat to higher education. The Mamata Banerjee government is installing its puppets everywhere to forestall the growth of the young generation. Academic institutions have become our esteemed CM’s very own fiefdom. It is ironic how in this new regime autonomous universities have lost whatever autonomy they possessed. The Big Brother is watching all our academics, and whoever doesn’t conform is handed a transfer letter.
The heritage of Presidency, that has stood the test of 200 years, is now being trampled on by callous politicians. Our professors are leaving because they can no longer hope to change this situation. We, the students, are worst affected as our dreams of Presidency are shattered.
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