God save a University which can’t find itself a VC

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The high-power committee in search of a vice-chancellor for the University of Mysore was busy doing what it is supposed to be doing: searching for a suitable vice-chancellor to head the once-great University.

Finally, out of sheer exhaustion, the chairman of the committee, standing atop Crawford Hall with high-powered binoculars in his hands, sighed in defeat: “I can’t see a single candidate in the whole of Manasagangotri who can take the place of Dr Shrimali, Dr Pannikkar or Kuvempu. We should tell our chancellor to enlarge the scope of our search.”

“Why can’t we look around and shortlist some candidates from our neighboring States?” asked the junior most member of the committee. Though wet behind his ears, the junior had come up with a simple but workable solution. It would have been an excellent QED, but it was met with a cold triple negative.

“We can’t take anybody from Tamil Nadu. They are against Kannada getting classical language status and naturally we won’t touch anybody from there. Moreover, if rains fail next year and Tamil Nadu demands its pounds of flesh, er, its tmc of Cauvery water, a VC of Tamil origin will be a security risk in our campus. Any professor from Kerala will be a Leftist and we can’t have Karl Marx going about as VC. Andhra Pradesh is a strict no-no after the hungama created by the nomination of a Telugu member during Governor’s Rule.”

The junior wouldn’t give up yet.

“Why don’t we zero in on somebody from industry? Somebody who has some prior teaching experience?”

“We just can’t sell off our ideals to a fellow who is always looking at the bottomline. Most of them are reverse-engineers or body shoppers who serve western countries. Even if a starting software engineer gets 3 to 4 times our salary, can there be any pride in that sort of work? He might have been a teacher once but by now he would have thrown his principles out of the window. Industry is out.”

Our young professor was just not giving up. He was like M.S. Dhoni with a ‘never say die’ attitude.

“What about a professor from a foreign university who has made a name in his field? Somebody from Mysore itself may want to come back?”

“Why should we fall back on someone who ran away years ago to earn a few dollars more? Clearly, he had no interest to serve his country like the rest of us. We will lose self-respect if we now call him. Moreover, he will be an insufferable snooty snob with a matching funny accent. It will only harm our great university and put us back by several years.”

“Why don’t we look at our own Legislative Assembly? After all our Prime Minister himself taught at London School of Economics who has done very well, of late, as Prime Minister. We could ask our CM to suggest somebody suitable from Vidhana Soudha.”

Junior was again pointing at the bright rainbow, but sitting in their comfortable seats, the standing committee members would only see the dark clouds.

“We should do no such thing. First, our CM will think we are useless and will dissolve the Committee. I don’t want to lose this job. Second, he may suggest some Brahmin which our senate is against. Third, even if he suggests a non-Brahmin, say somebody from the schedules castes and scheduled tribes, most of our teaching staff will object to it even if the clerical staff will be delighted. We will be opening a Pandora‘s box of caste which we should avoid at any cost.”

“Then what’s the solution?”

“Even if we select someone meeting all the criteria, our chancellor is sure to reject our choice. So let’s go slow on this and take our own sweet time. A vice-chancellor’s term is for five years. We have an acting VC. There is no fixed term for an acting VC.  We should let sleeping dogs lie. No point in speeding up things unnecessarily,” concluded the senior pro.

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Help the “High-Powered Search Committee”. Who do you think should be considered for the post of the vice-chancellor of the University of Mysore? Name names. Join the debate.