Bengal governor says no to disruptive campus agitations

Kolkata, Nov 29 : In the wake of the recent spurt in student agitations in West Bengal, state Governor M.K. Narayanan Friday asserted campus protests should not turn "disruptive".

Speaking at the annual convocation of the Calcutta University (CU) here, Narayanan iterated his stand on getting a clutch of state universities including CU, on par with the Presidency University located next door.

"Protest by students and others should not tend to become disruptive even if protests can be accepted as part of the average life of a university," he said.

Recently, in the Rajabazar campus of Calcutta University, students locked-in the varsity's pro vice chancellor, the secretary of the university college and its faculty Monday afternoon to demand proper placement opportunities.

Prior to that, hundreds of students of Jadavpur University laid a siege to its administrative office, forcing top functionaries including the vice chancellor to stay put in their offices for 51 hours, after two students were suspended for allegedly ragging juniors.

Later, they started an indefinite relay hunger strike demanding reconsideration of the suspension of the two engineering students.

Narayanan also made a mention of bringing universities including the CU "on the same footing" as Presidency University that was formerly the Presidency College.

"At last year's convocation I had ventured to suggest that atleast a handful of universities in the state (I had Calcutta University in mind) should be treated on the same footing as Presidency University in all matters, even if all state universities cannot be treated in the same manner," he said, alluding to the problems related to infrastructure and finances in colleges of the state.

"I had personally taken this up with both central and state governments. I am not yet aware of any success in that."

The university conferred the degrees of honorary Doctor of Science to noted physicist R. Chidambaram and urologist P. N. Dogra while acclaimed philosopher J.N. Mohanty received the degree of Doctor of Letters.

In response to the varsity Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das' speech where he lamented the absence of Indian universities in the top 200 global rankings, Narayan suggested a "fine balance" between inclusivity and quality of education.

"I agree that we continuously bemoan the fact that Indian universities do not figure in the top list in the first 500 universities or so...I think we need to think a little more deeply as to whether an over-emphasis on inclusive education might have something to do with this. Our education policies must ensure that inclusiveness does not mean downgrading excellence," he said.

"This is sometimes the case...this is important to stress the need for a fine balance between these two poles of what we really need as far as higher education is concerned."

--IANS (Posted on 29-11-2013)

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