BHU V-C’s term marred with controversies


Varanasi: Newly appointed BHU VC Professor Gireesh Chandra Tripathi addresses a press conference after assuming charge at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, on Nov 27, 2014. (Photo: IANS)
Ever since Girish Chandra Tripathi assumed charge of Vice-Chancellor of the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU), a Central varsity, in November 2014 he remained embroiled in subsequent controversies, often being accused of ruining the institution’s academic culture by enforcing his orthodox ideology and promoting ineligible persons to important posts to increase his overall control over the institution.
Under his control, conflict of interest in the overall administrative functioning had become the order of the day. Many eminent personalities had lodged objections and left their posts at the University alleging tampering, manipulation and forging of minutes of committees for selecting Tripathi’s favoured men in different departments. It resulted in deep resentment among senior faculty members. Such severe
accusations gained strength when an illustrious professor of IIT Gandhi Nagar, Prof. Michel Danio who was member of the Executive Committee of BHU, resigned from its membership.
In his reply emailed to the V-C dated November 7, 2015, he highlighted anomalies and manipulation in the selection process of Directors of the Institute of Medical Sciences and Business Management Institute. It is perceived that being an upright academician Prof. Danino’s conscience did not allowed him to be unjust for more deserving and qualified persons available to be considered in the interest of enhancement of knowledge base and academic reputation of the University.
The actions of the Vice-Chancellor smacked of favouritism with regard to grant of status of Emeritus Professor to Prof. T. N. Mohapatra of Microbiology department of the Institute of Medical Sciences despite the fact that the departmental council of senior faculty members headed by Prof Gopi Nath did not find his credentials suitable as per the criteria laid down for granting such special status and post-retirement conditions required to undertake research and project works from the Indian Council For Medical Research. Similar anomalies were cited in the case of Dr Aruna Sinha of History department wherein the department council headed by Prof. Binda D Paranjape did not find merit in her claim for Emeritus Professorship. However, V-C Tripathi obliged her by ignoring departmental recommendations.
The decision of the Vice-Chancellor to allow Dr Om Prakash Upadhyay to function as Medical Superintendent of the Sir Sunderlal Hospital of BHU in addition to the post he already occupied attracted sharp media criticism because he was convicted in a case of sexual harassment by a Magistrates Court at Nasinu, Fiji and since the High Court of Fiji confirmed the conviction it had become a final decision. Tripathi’s choice of subordinates surprised many who wondered why a vice-chancellor of a meritorious institution would protect and promote a person who has been punished on the serious charge of moral turpitude who brought bad name to the country in a foreign land and how such a person could become the flag bearer of the V-C’s team.
Unfortunately, there was a conflict of interest in the appointment of Girish Chandra Tripathi himself as the Vice-Chancellor of BHU. It was complained to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) that without disclosing conflict of interest, Tripathi had been appointed by a search-cum-selection committee headed by Justice (retired) Giridhar Malviya, grandson of freedom fighter and educationist Madan Mohan Malviya, and also one of the proposers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s candidature from Varanasi.
It was reported by the national media on 1st January, 2015 that both Tripathi and selection panel chief Justice Malviya have an old association, a fact that Justice Malviya allegedly concealed from the government as well as the search committee. A registered society called Seva Samiti in Allahabad was presided by Justice Malviya while Tripathi was its secretary as well as manager of the Sewa Samiti Vidyamandir Intermediate College run by the society.
When the attention of Justice Malviya was drawn towards such malice in law, he confirmed that Tripathi was an old associate in the Sewa Samiti. When asked if this does not amount to conflict of interest, Malviya denied the allegations.
He also said he did not feel the need to recuse himself from the selection process and the deliberations of the search-cum-selection committee when Tripathi’s name came up for consideration. In fact, Malviya went on to say that it helped that he knew Tripathi. “I selected him out of three names because I know he is capable,” he had quipped. Asked if the resume of each shortlisted candidate should not have been sufficient to decide who was more capable for the job, Justice Malviya had said, “I know the problems of BHU and also that Tripathi can do very well.”
The HRD ministry ignored the complaint regarding conflict-of-interest in Tripathi’s appointment when it was brought to its notice. However, in a similar situation the Department of Science and Technology had decided to cancel the appointment of Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research after it was revealed that there was conflict-of-interest between search committee member R A Mashelkar and selected candidate Rajesh Gokhale.
Is it not an irony of history that Justice Malviya’s grandfather Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya, President of the Indian National Congress from 1909 to 1918, was a moderate leader and opposed separate electorates for Muslims under the Lucknow Pact of 1916. The
‘Mahamana’ title was conferred upon him by Rabindranath Tagore for his large heartedness to accommodate people of all sects in his political ideology. Now his ideology seems to be threatened in his very nursery of knowledge, one of the biggest education hubs of Asia founded by him — the BHU — due to the short sighted vision of its functionaries.