There is a need to restructure the governing bodies for universities and autonomous colleges
The system of appointments of vice-chancellors and syndicates, or governing councils, the key authorities for any university, needs to be revised.
The appointments are often mired in controversies, with frequent reports in the past of aspirants for the post of vice-chancellors and membership of syndicates indulging in unethical practices to gain favour.
The NEP talks of creating new structures, such as a Board of Management, to replace the syndicate system
The existing system of syndicates, consisting of government nominees and those nominated by Governors or chancellors, should be dispensed with.
Often, people lacking merit but with an eye on memberships of affiliation, building, and purchase committees, among others, get nominated to these bodies.
With the vice-chancellor as chairman, the Board should consist of former vice-chancellors drawn from other universities, members drawn from industry, the alumni, eminent public intellectuals, principals of affiliated colleges on rotation and members representing the non-teaching staff.
The Board’s decisions should be taken by consensus or by a majority of the members present.
Proceedings should be conducted in virtualmode and made available for stakeholders’ viewership.
For the appointment of vice-chancellors of universities, search committees constituted for such purposes must be thoroughly restructured.
The government’s and chancellors’ role in such committees must be done away with.
The practice of having government nominees, chancellor’s nominees and university nominees should be stopped and it should be replaced by drawing an eminent former vice-chancellor or academician of proven integrity and administrative capability for the post of chairman.
Applications for the post of vice-chancellors can be invited through advertisements on the universitywebsite and throughnewspapers.
Biodata of candidates must also be published on the websites.
The committee may then allot marks to candidates’ scholarship in terms of teaching and research, administrative capabilities, and capacity for fundraising.
Faculty members must mandatorily upload on university websites their annualplans for research and innovative modes of teaching.
Their annualself-appraisalreports can be evaluated by external peers and their recommendations should be strictly implemented.
In order to improve the higher education ecosystem, excellence in teaching, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and social contribution must be encouraged.
The police in India, and especially forces under the present regime, have a dubious record of effecting needless arrests and filing questionable cases as a tool of harassment.
The manner in which a Delhi Police team travelled to Bengaluru and took Disha Ravi into custody, apparently without following the guidelines laid down by the Delhi High Court on inter-State arrests, marks a new low in the display of perversity and high-handedness in law enforcement.
Even though Ms. Ravi was produced before a dutymagistrate in Delhi within the mandatory 24-hour period, there is no indication whether the Delhi Police informed the local police and if she was properly represented by counsel.
The toolkit, the prosecution alleges, was prepared by a pro-Khalistani outfit, and based on this, it was concluded that Ms. Ravi was working with separatists to create disaffection against India.
Such toolkits are common for those organising protests online, and they contain not much more than calls for protests, texts to be tweeted, hashtags to be used, and names of authorities and public functionaries whose handles can be tagged.
The regime is more likely to attract internationalembarrassment and opprobrium by the indiscriminate use of police power against activists, protesters and the media.
The state is increasingly resorting to heavy-handedresponses to issues that attract a convergence of activism, opposition political activity and adverse media scrutiny.
A government truly worried about its global image would instead seek to address the deficit in tolerance and surfeit in repression that are becoming more obvious with each passing day.
No witch hunts | ToI
Police have claimed that events unfolding in Delhi including the January 26 violence reveal execution of the “action plan” detailed in the toolkit Greta initially posted and then deleted.
A youth movement, against what they see as intransigence of older generations on climate change, is gathering pace.
If climate activists are misinformed about the farm laws and fail to recognise the culpability of the current MSP regime for groundwater depletion and air pollution, a conversation can be initiated.
Thousands of workers in Tamil Nadu’s famed fireworksindustry remain trapped in unsafeconditions despite an unending series of accidents that keeps drawing attention to their plight.
In the latest accident at a fireworks unit in Virudhunagar, at last count, 20lives have perished, while 28 workers are in hospital.
While the dead end up in statisticalrecords, on the ground there is only short-termaction: registration of cases, arrests, identification of causes, token inspections, issuance of warnings and safety advisories.
The causes are well documented. Unlicensedunits that have mushroomed in and outside Sivakasi mostly escape scrutiny till explosions occur.
A greater concern is the illegal sub-leasing of contracts for manufacturing crackers by licensed units.
Untrainedworkers and the piece-ratesystem, which induces people to race to produce more units per day, have also caused accidents.
Periodic inspections at factories, sustained crackdown and stringent penal action against violators are non-negotiable.
For this, Central and Stategovernments must provide the needed manpower for enforcement agencies as the industry has grown manifold.
RajyaSabha member and formerChief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s souring appraisal of the judiciary portrays an institution failing to fulfil individual and national economic aspirations.
Of course, Gogoi himself could be seen as part of the problem: His hasty acceptance of a RSseat within months of demitting office hadn’t helped the judiciary’s cause, raising worries about judicial independence being compromised.
His view of a “ramshackle” judiciary and that people going to court regret their decision does no credit to either the government or judges like him who have overseen the country’s judicial administration.
Judicial reforms remain caught in a limbo, amid decades of power struggle between government and Supreme Court over judicial appointments.
The present condition – where fourvacancies in SC and 419openings in high courts remain unfilled amid differences of opinion and procedural wrangles – highlights the rot.
Meanwhile Covid-19 has struck judicial functioning too, as the pandemic has set courts back by a few years in mitigating backlogs.
National Judicial Data Grid reveals 3.8crorepending cases in lower courts, with the last one year itself aggravating pendency burden by nearly 50 lakh cases.
57 lakh matters are pending in HCs.
Appointing more judges, streamlining civil and criminal procedures that are delaying case disposal, embracing technology, and ensuring greater synergy between courts, police, government departments and lawyers are a few necessary reforms.
Despite clocking 63rdposition in World Bank’s ease of doing business report, India ranked a dismal 163rd in one of its most critical parameters: enforcement of contracts.
On the criminal justice side, low conviction rates in sexual offences and large percentage (70%) of undertrial prisoners in the jail population infringe upon fundamental rights.
Untangling such a vast ecosystem including laws, institutions, individuals and vested interests may be hard, but a beginning must be made.
Now that difficult reforms in areas like agriculture, banking and disinvestment are underway, vitalise the justice system too.
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