Visva-Bharati University grapples with a cruel irony yet again. The legacy of Tagore is in tatters with the five-year jail terms awarded to a former Vice-Chancellor, a former Registrar, and a former lady lecturer of the Mathematics department.
Just as fish rots from the head, the forgery of the marksheets and the subsequent faculty appointment of a grossly under-qualified applicant were masterminded at the helm ~ by the then VC, Dilip Sinha, the ex-Registrar, Dilip Mukherjee, and also, of course, the applicant for the lecturer’s post, Mukti Deb.
Detected in 1997, the case picked up in the summer of 2004… soon after Tagore’s Nobel medal was stolen from Rabindra Bhavan. It was a double whammy, if ever there was one. Though the burglary, which disgraced Visva- Bharati both at home and the world, is yet to be cracked, it has taken 20 years and more for the accused in the marksheet scandal to meet their comeuppance.
The lecturer’s spurious degree certificates were attested by the VC and Registrar, and she was allowed to continue in the faculty for five years, chiefly with the tacit consent of Dilip Sinha. In the net, the students were taught mathematics by a “member of the faculty” who was allowed to join on the strength of forged marksheets. Thus was a Central university scandalised by the Vice-Chancellor and his acolytes, and with it the memory of its creator.
As often as not, those who run the university have facilitated its damnation. Forgery was institutionalised this time around, though the campus has been convulsed by a welter of scandals. The thought must be direly depressing three weeks before the annual ha-ha associated with Doljatra or Basant Utsav, if you will.
It is hard not to wonder whether the case of the mathematics “lecturer” has opened a can of worms. For coinciding with the sentence awarded to the trio, the executive council of Visva-Bharati has appointed a committee, headed by a retired High Court judge, in an effort to seek legal opinion on the 24 irregular appointments in the university.
These appointments were made during the tenure of a former Vice-Chancellor, Sushanta Dutta Gupta, who too had to leave in disgrace. Indeed, the exit of quite a few VCs has been unceremonious, to say the least. It would be pertinent to recall that Dutta Gupta was dismissed in February 2016 in the wake of administrative and fiscal irregularities.
The university has clearly woken up late… only after the dubious trio were sentenced and following a nudge from the Union HRD ministry. The canker is much too deep-seated, and aside from the jail sentence, there has been little or no effort to probe the root of the serial malaise. With a former Vice-Chancellor behind bars, the lilting theme song, Amader Santiniketan, must ring hollow. The disgrace is collective as must be the accountability of the authorities.