Gujarat Plus - Gujarat on Web
Rediscover Gujrat .....Rediscover the Gujrati in You
Gujarat Vidyapeeth without chancellor Wednesday, April 18, 2001
AHMEDABAD: It has been more than three months since the last chancellor of the Gujarat Vidhyapeeth Dr Sushila Nayyar expired. And yet there has been no attempt to replace her. Being headless, however, is not new for the country's only Gandhian university. With Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Morarji Desai as its past chancellors, it had spent more than a year mired in controversy and without a chancellor until veteran Gandhian Dr Nayyar was appointed on August 18 last year.
Since her death on January 3 this year, the deemed university is again experiencing that same old feeling as the Mandal (governing body) has not been able to find a replacement.
Vice-Chancellor Jitendra Desai prefers to remain silent on the issue, saying only that they will make an announcement when the right time comes. He refuses to set any deadline for the appointment or if any particular person's name has been suggested.
One of the most prominent names doing the rounds is that of Vice President of the country Krishan Kant to ensure that there is no politicking among Mandal members. "Many feel this would be ideal for the institution as it would build stronger ties with New Delhi apart from keeping out internal wranglings," an observer close to the Mandal told The Times of India. "Apart from that he comes from a family of freedom fighters." Kant was himself known as the Young Turk in his heydays.
Although still as the level of informal discussions, Kant's name has come up because there are few Gandhians left who can stand up in stature to the past chancellors. Many also feel the University needs fresh blood and do not prefer octogenarians for the post. Dr Nayyar, for instance, was 84 when she was appointed and did not even complete an year in office.
Among other prominent names doing the rounds are that of the two holding trustees of the Mandal; Navinchandra Barot, known more his days as a union leader, and former state education minister Naval Shah. The names of Narayanbhai Desai, son of Mahatma Gandhi's trusted personal secretary Mahadev Desai, and one of the last surviving Gandhian educationists, writer Manubhai Pancholi have also come up.
Observers feel that perhaps the Mandal does not want to step on any unexpected political land mines, which may blow up into yet another controversy. This is especially true since Barot and Shah are believed to be eyeing the post and may pull the Mandal in separate directions if any one is appointed.
Shah, however, feels there is no disagreement between them. "It is always dangerous to delay such decisions," he says. "It gives people the chance to make false assumptions. I am ready to accept any decision that the Mandal takes."
Interestingly, the position is more that of a figure head as all the executive powers are with the vice chancellor. The chancellor is expected to provide vision to the institution instead of taking critical decisions, a responsibility many feel Manubhai Pancholi can handle best. Even Mahatma Gandhi is believed to have listed to Pancholi when it came to education matters. However, both age and health are against him, something Mandal members may take exception to.
Controversy sparked off in July 1998 when the then chancellor Ramlal Parikh and four of his followers walked out of a Mandal meeting protesting against the appointment of Vinod Tripathi as pro-vice chancellor. After much mud-slinging, an arbitration committee was set up which declared illegal the appointments of Raval and Tripathi.