Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak
The gazette notification of “Odisha Universities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020” has created hue and cry among the academicians, university job aspirants, political parties and some voluntary organisations. The reason behind this opposition is the recommendations of the amended act.
This new policy has two major recommendations, one the recruitment of Assistant Professors, Associate Professor and Professors will be done by the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC) and the second is recruitment of other ancillary staffs or Non-Teaching staff by State Selection Board (SSB). No doubt people may consider this as an arbitrary decision of Govt. of Odisha so far as autonomy of universities is concern. This is perceived that, the decision may clip the wings of Vice Chancellors in their functioning and hold on recruitment process. It is obvious that some questions must be coming to the minds of people. Why such amendments were needed? What compelled the state government to go for such a decision? It is time for introspection for universities of Odisha. Have we ever evaluated ourselves? Have we ever compared our status, quality of education we are imparting to our students with other global universities?
Politics in the campus, various groups of professors, the crabs in a basket syndrome of intellectuals and callousness of Vice Chancellors have created this kind of situation in the state. The oldest Journalism department of Odisha in Berhampur University has become non-functional since the superannuation of 3 veteran professors. The university never took interest in it. In almost all universities of the state situation is almost same. Hundreds of teaching positions are lying vacant. The largest and oldest university of Odisha- Utkal University has not recruited teachers for a quite long time. Departments in this university are running PhD programmes even without having a single regular teacher in the department. Part time teachers are managing the show in the universities.
Neither government machinery interfered in the university affairs nor did the Vice Chancellors take proactive initiatives to address the issues. We can compare our state of affairs with other national universities and draw the picture. In job creation, in employment, in campus recruitment, in sustainable growth where exactly we stand? If we talk about rankings, then what is the NIRF ranking of our universities? How many universities of the state have got UGC NAAC-A grade? In QS ranking where we stand? We do not have any answer. What is the research output? How many patents we have filed from our universities so far? How many MoUs have we signed with international universities? What is our faculty and student exchange rate with global universities? The result is known to all.
How many times we have revised our syllabus? How frequently we revise our syllabus? How many new courses we have launched so far in last 20 years in our universities? How contemporary our syllabus is? Have we ever compared our syllabus with prominent national and international universities? Have we ever mapped our curriculum with world class universities? So ultimately the question comes, who is responsible for this? Whom should we make accountable? Blindly I will say the Vice Chancellors. The lack of vision, initiative and attitude of passing the buck and procrastination has given rise to this situation. Lack of leadership and vision at the top level has created this situation.
One can visit any university campus and verify the situations there. For how many hours the teachers are teaching in the classroom? Are they following the UGC recommendations of minimum workload? Have we ever assessed the teachers on the basis of students’ outcome/result? Have we ever made any teacher accountable for the poor performance of the students? As teachers of universities have we ever tried to make our students employable? How much time a professor is spending with the scholars for research? What is our contribution to the world of knowledge?
Hence this was imminent. The government has taken a right decision to control the universities. At least through this act, universities will get teachers and students will get back to the classes. Instead of getting panicked we should expect positive changes in higher education. On the other hand if we have slightest of doubts on the capabilities of Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC), we should clarify that. It is the same OPSC which recruits Lecturers for Government Colleges, OAS, OPS and ORS officers to run the state machinery. So for the recruitment of teachers for universities the OPSC will definitely form the selection committee. Without subject experts from universities and guidelines of UGC for minimum standard of teachers in higher education, how can OPSC go for recruitments? So let’s welcome this move and have progressive thoughts.
(The author is an Associate Professor & Head, University Institute of Media Studies, Chandigarh University, Mohali, Punjab. Views are personal.)