Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Kalam’s letter damning Amartya Sen out in public which Government had tried to suppress

Government had tried to suppress the July 2011 letter to Krishna.

Former president APJ Abdul Kalam’s last July letter to foreign minister SM Krishna kept under wraps has come into public domain, slamming Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen for forcing him out of his brainchild project of the Nalanda University in Bihar, as its first visitor.

He chose not to create a public controversy even while writing to Krishna on July 4 that he was upset by the way the project was being handled and hence he could not remain associated with it any longer. He wrote how sad he was at everything going wrong in reviving a great seat of learning in Buddhist philosophy and statecraft. Revival of the first residential international educational institution which flourished between 5th and 12th centuries near Patna is in controversies even before it starts any academic courses.

The letter reads: “Having (been) involved in various academic and administrative proceedings of Nalanda University since August 2007, I believe that the candidates to be selected/appointed to the post of chancellor and vice-chancellor should be of extraordinary intellect with academic and management expertise. Both have to personally involve themselves full-time in Bihar so that a robust and strong international institution is built.”

The ministry of external affairs had taken over the project since it was conceptualised as an international university involving the 16 ASEAN countries like China, Japan, Australia, Korea and Thailand, even while Dr Kalam kept insisting that it should better be handled by the human resources development ministry as it has the required experience in the field of education.

The government tried to suppress Dr Kalam’s damning letter as it was taken on record in the governing board meeting of the university but not made public until a Patna journalist wrote to him to know the truth.

Dr Kalam felt frustrated with the people at the helm of affairs and his resignation was a rebuff to prof Amartya Sen and his protégé Dr Gopa Sabharwal, who was brought in as the vice-chancellor designate, without Kalam’s knowledge. Being chairman of the governing board, Sen’s position is equivalent to chancellor’s (the university officially has none as yet). Neither Sen nor Sabharwal could inspire the confidence of Kalam.

Kalam and Sen represent the opposite ends of the spectrum. While Kalam is rooted in the Indian traditions and has worked for India's self-reliance in defence sector, Sen is one of the “runaway” success stories in academics abroad.

With a mind besotted with Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard, Sen viewed Nalanda University through that prism, while Kalam felt sad at finding no efforts to re-enact the glory of ancient Nalanda University in which students from all over East Asia came and had the tutelage of Arya Dev, Silabhadra, Dharmapala, Santarakshita and Chandragomin who spent their lives here.

The academics say the fault lies in the government for entrusting the task of reviving the university to Amartya Sen as a testimony of India’s obsequiousness despite Kalam repeatedly warning the Indians against it.

Kalam’s letter is also an indictment of Sabharwal, just a sociology reader from Lady Sri Ram College of Delhi University, who was made the rector/vice-chancellor designate by Sen despite protest that she has nothing to do with the Buddhist studies for which the university is to be set up and was running it while sitting in Delhi.
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1 comment:

j s pande said...

text, please