Norm rather than exception

The process of selecting the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore seems jinxed with the exercise caught up in procedural and legal tangles.

Far from appointing a Vice-Chancellor, the State Government has not been able to successfully complete the preliminary process of constituting a Search Committee to choose a candidate for the post, as laid down in the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000.

Though more than a year has elapsed since J. Shashidhar Prasad demitted office as Vice-Chancellor in October 2007, his successor appears to be nowhere in sight.

The exercise appears to have become so tricky and long-drawn that the stop-gap arrangement of appointing the senior-most dean in the university as acting Vice-Chancellor has become the norm rather than the exception. During the past year, the Raj Bhavan has been forced to appoint three successive acting Vice-Chancellors.

Every time a communiqué is issued appointing an acting Vice-Chancellor, the Governor’s office does not fail to mention that the arrangement will end as soon as a full-time Vice-Chancellor is appointed. When the Raj Bhavan recently appointed C.P. Siddhashrama as acting Vice-Chancellor, the academic fraternity in Mysore was naturally curious to know when his term as dean ends. Many heaved a sigh of relief to learn that Prof. Siddhashrama’s term as dean is scheduled to end only on October 22, 2009, which is almost a year away. They now hope the exercise of choosing a full-time Vice-Chancellor for the university will be completed by then.

Good for humans, good for elephants too

Manufacturing public opinion and consent by hiring a crowd is common, and one comes across it on a daily basis, be it a protest against a cause or a counter-protest in support of it. Not all that the mob has to say is relevant. But occasionally it can be amusing. A case in point is the Forest Department’s decision to rescue three elephants belonging to a circus company. Based on the recommendations of the veterinarians who inspected the elephants along with a few animal rights groups, the authorities decided to rescue the elephants and shift them to a camp at Bannerghatta National Park. But surprisingly even this altruistic act of freeing the elephants from the indignities inflicted on them drew widespread opposition. Needless to say, it was uninformed reasoning of the crowd, and at least a few of them who were vociferous in condemning the animal rights groups had an axe to grind. However, the emotional melodrama played out by an individual took the cake for its original contribution on the understanding of the gastronomic preferences of elephants. He bellowed in front of the camera, “I have seen the elephants being lovingly fed with rotis smeared with butter in the circus!”

In the process of his contrived emotional display, the gentleman in question overlooked the fact that the natural diet of elephants does not comprise rotis. Or perhaps in his wisdom he believed that what is good for humans is good for animals too.