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Amartya Sen not opting for second term at Nalanda

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IBNS) Noble laureate Amartya Sen will not go for a second term as the Chancellor of Nalanda University, he told media and through a letter hinting that the was not wanted by the ruling BJP government in New Delhi and especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi whom he had disapproved as the PM of India during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

In a letter to the governing body of Nalanada University available to some media, the Nobel Economics laureate wrote: “It is hard for me not to conclude that the government wants me to cease being the chancellor of Nalanda University after this July, and technically, it has the power to do so.”

“This delay [in response from the government positions like the President of India and the External Affairs Ministry], as well as the uncertainty involved, is leading, in effect, to a decisional gap, which is not helpful to Nalanda University’s governance and its academic progress. I have, therefore, decided that in the best interest of Nalanda University, I should exclude myself from being considered for continuing as chancellor beyond this July, despite the unanimous recommendation and urging of the governing board for me to continue. I take this opportunity also to thank the governing board very warmly for its confidence in me,” he wrote.

Amartya Sen said: “I am also sad, at a more general level, that academic governance in India remains so deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling government, when it chooses to make political use of the special provisions. Even though the Nalanda University Act, passed by Parliament, did not, I believe, envisage political interference in academic matters, it is formally the case — given the legal provisions (some of them surviving from colonial days) – that the government can turn an academic issue into a matter of political dispensation if it feels unrestrained about interfering.”

He said more than a month has passed since then [governing body decision to have him for second term] and it now seems clear that the visitor has been unable to provide his assent to the governing board’s unanimous choice in the absence of the government’s approval.

“The governing board has not been favoured with a reply to its request, either from the president’s office or from the ministry of external affairs. As board members are aware, our visitor – President Pranab Mukherjee – has always taken a deep personal interest in the speedy progress of the work of Nalanda University, and given that, we have to assume that something makes it difficult – or impossible – for him to act with speed in this matter,” wrote Sen.

He wrote: “As a proud and concerned citizen of India, I take this particular occasion to communicate my general disquiet in public, which is why I am openly sharing this letter.

“Also, since I receive a great many constructive suggestions every week about teaching and research at Nalanda University for possible implementation (a number of these suggestions coming from the public have indeed been extremely useful for the academic planning of Nalanda), I am using this occasion to publicly communicate that I shall do whatever I can over the remaining time I have, though the leadership of the long-run planning of Nalanda has, obviously, to come from someone else,” he wrote.

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