Letter from Editor

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Letter from the Editor-In-Chief

November 2010

NEHU in Crisis

Dear friends,

The North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) was created with a mission to serve the people of the North East in 1973. With the passage of time, more Central Universities were opened in the North East states by the Central Government to develop higher education in the region. NEHU at present is looking after the interests of Meghalaya and has an additional campus at Tura besides the main campus in the outskirts of Shillong.

Since 1973, the university, quite naturally has had a number ups and downs. It features in the news regularly, both in positive and negative light. For quite some time now, it has shown progressive growth and this has led to it being given the status of ‘Potential for Excellence’, a status which even Delhi University does not enjoy.

However, the recent developments in the university have turned into an area of concern for not only those associated with the university namely the students, teachers and administrative staff but also for the public in general. The student body of the university is tied in a deadlock with no less than the Government of India as they have, since the 4th of October 2010, been fighting tooth and nail against the President’s appointment of Professor A.N. Rai as the university’s new Vice Chancellor. Prior to this appointment, the student body had voiced out their desire for an indigenous Vice Chancellor to succeed the previous Vice Chancellor Pramod Tandon whose tenure was marred by numerous agitations. In a very unpopular move, the previous Vice Chancellor had cancelled the Hill Area Special Allowance which had been paid to the employees of the university for many decades.

The contention of the student body is that Vice Chancellors from outside the region are insensitive towards the issues of the students. The situation had got so bad that a fact finding team was sent to Shillong by the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India to reach a settlement with the students but this could not be achieved as the students were steadfast in their demands.

What needs to be understood is that there is no provision for preference of an indigenous Vice Chancellor for Central Universities in the Act of Parliament which dictates how a Vice Chancellor should be selected for any Central University. As such, if the students want their demands to be met, it would mean an amendment of this Act. Nothing else can solve the present problem.

Eastern Panorama took stock of the entire situation and met the Vice Chancellor Professor A.N. Rai and the student leaders and got their views on the matter and this has been featured as the cover story for this issue of Eastern Panorama.

Higher education in India needs a boost as we have only around 350 universities in the country against a population of over 1.15 billion people as against 3650 universities in the United States of America for a population of only 310 million people. Is the concerned authority at Delhi taking heed?

Dr. K. K. Jhunjhunwala



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