B.S. Satish Kumar

Increased representation to bureaucrats on university’s board criticised

Former Vice-Chancellor says there should have been debate on the issue

BANGALORE: The hurried manner in which the State Government promulgated the Universities of Agricultural Sciences Ordinance has raised many eyebrows in the agriculture sector.

The ordinance, promulgated on November 22, states that such a step has been taken to amend the law related to the Universities of Agricultural Sciences (UASs) for ensuring development of agriculture and allied sciences.

Agriculture experts say that there is no dispute over the fact that there is dire a need for triggering agriculture development and also initiating reforms in the universities so that they can trigger agricultural development. But they have taken exception to the hurried manner in which such important steps are being initiated without a public debate.

Academic and political circles are wondering why the government chose to promulgate an ordinance when the legislature session was being held in January. They feel that it could have been brought in the form a Bill so that there was scope for discussion. Normally ordinances are issued to cater to the urgent matters when the legislature session is not being held.

Noted agricultural expert and former chairman of Karnataka Agriculture Commission R. Dwarakinath observed that there should have been an elaborate public debate before effecting the amendment.

Among other things, the ordinance has rechristened the Board of Regents — which governs the university — as the Board of Management and also increased the representation to bureaucrats and university officials on the Board while the representation to progressive farmers and agricultural experts had not been increased.

Autonomy under threat

Mr. Dwarakinath, who is also former vice-chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, took exception to increasing the representation to bureaucracy in the university’s governing board, which is headed by the vice-chancellor. He told The Hindu: “Having five IAS officers on the board will effect the autonomy of the university as the officials will dominate the board’s proceedings. This will harm the interests of the university.”

He pointed out that the university’s powers to appoint a comptroller had also been curtailed. Though the vice-chancellor had been given the power to appoint the comptroller from a panel of three persons, the actual selection to the panel would be made by the government, he noted.

Referring to the statement in the ordinance that it is based on a Model Bill recommended by the ICAR, Mr. Dwarakinath said the actual amendment effected through the ordinance went beyond the suggestions made by the ICAR. The ordinance is expected to come up before the special legislature session being held in Belgaum for replacement with a Bill.