Goindocal: With the recent announcement that ended years of controversy over the venue of the Central University of Bihar (CUB), the Union Human Resource Development Ministry traded a cautious middle path.
Amid growing concern for newer political realignments and Bihar CM growing stature at the national level; the Central Govt announced that there will be two Central universities in the State. One will be established at Motihari, as sought by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, and the other at Gaya as proposed by the Centre. Bihar is the second State after Jammu & Kashmir to have two Central Universities.
On the other hand the senior academics of the city have reiterated their demand for upgrading Patna University (PU) as a central university to add newer dimensions to the ongoing controversy which has just been laid to rest or is it?
Making PU, the seventh oldest university of the Indian subcontinent, as a central university has remained a long-cherished dream of most intellectuals, academics and politicians of the state. Even chief minister Nitish Kumar has backed this demand on several occasions. Another central university could be set up at Motihari after upgrading PU as a central university, they say.
Then what about the Central University for Gaya for which the Central govt is overtly interested in!
When i tried to find out the answer to this question from those demanding this; the answer was vague and to an extent showed the colors of the ‘narrow’ regional biasness on the part of the intelligentsia.
But the answer of the junior Minister of HRD D. Purandeswari was unambiguous.
In a recent function when she came to Patna to lay the foundation stone of new hostels and a students’ activity centre of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), she vehemently ruled out converting Patna University into a central university and setting up the Central University of Bihar (CUB) at Motihari. Being queried about this view, the minister said that the Centre was unable to grant central university status to Patna University. “We have problem in converting old universities in the country, Patna University included, into central universities as they are being governed by their own rules and regulations.”
But days after that the Centre has to concede with the Bihar’s demand of establishing two Central Universities at Bihar. So, will this demand also would be (and yes there is a long would be) looked after-by the Centre in the coming days to “please” the Bihar CM.
But can this be a viable reason for overlooking Patna University?
Even when the central govt is dillydallying on the issue of converting these central universities concept into centres of innovation; can’t we go by this proposition that continuity and traditions of the vintage Patna University can be an asset for establishing rather converting it into a Central University.
Former PU vice-chancellor M Mohiuddin said a central university must be located at Patna. And, PU definitely deserves this status. The state government must strive for making this premier institution of higher education a central university which would have a distinct advantage of its location.
Another former VC of PU, Jagannath Thakur, also pleaded for the same as PU fulfills the criteria of a central institution. A state like Bihar should have more than one central university. Hence, besides PU, another central university could easily be set up at some other place in the state, he argued.
But as already two CUB has been announced; can there be room for a third one or will it be not that the place whose name gets dropped from that coveted list will see more political uprisings. The modern day politicians have realized and particularly after the recent success of Nitish Kumar on developmental agenda in the state election that now the people are more interested in these issues of constructive Governance.
Meanwhile, Patna University Teachers' Association president P K Poddar said the centre would not have to invest much on upgrading PU as a central university as it already has the basic infrastructure. Several old universities, including Guru Ghasidas University, Chhattisgarh, and H S Gaur Sagar University, MP, have been converted into central universities. Hence, the Centre should have no problem in upgrading PU as a central university, he said.
Former head of T P S College chemistry department, Mahesh Chandra, said instead of fighting over the location of CUB at Motihari or Gaya, the Nitish government should convince the Central government about upgrading PU as a central university. The state government could set up another university of national or international repute at Motihari, he added.
A 'tussle' over the CUB site has been going on between the Union HRD ministry and state government for about three years. The state government has been insisting on Motihari, saying the establishment of CUB there would be a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. But the Centre was reluctant, until recently, pointing out that Motihari lacks infrastructure and other facilities needed for the CUB and its faculty.
Now after this announcement of two Central Universities in Bihar, will Patna University be upgraded in a land that had more than one university of international repute more than two millennium ago; at Vikramshila and at Nalanda.
The writer also tends to ask this question from his readers. With IIT; NIT; BIT; AIIMS and now demand for another Central University; will or rather is Patna ready to take this “centralization” of education if you like to put it that way?