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Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has sought Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal's intervention in repealing the Odisha Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which was recently passed in the Odisha Assembly.

In a letter, Pradhan has requested Pokhriyal to intervene in the matter keeping in mind the welfare and interest of students, scholars and autonomy of higher education institutions.

Claiming that the Bill contradicts Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Pradhan wrote, “The Odisha University (Amendment) Bill has met near-criticism from all quarters of Odisha’s academic community. The Bill seeks to strip away the autonomy of higher educational institutions in Odisha by bureaucratizing critical aspects of functioning of universities and crippling its autonomy with the intent of exercising State government’s complete dominance.”

Pradhan’s letter further stated, the Odisha University Amendment Bill, 2020's pernicious provisions for replacing University's apex Senate body with the State-controlled Syndicate, manipulating the appointment of its University Vice-Chancellor by inserting a State Government appointed nominee in the Search Committee and limiting candidature of this committee to non-academic candidates are cause for grave concern. An ill-founded delegation of powers to appoint faculties and staffs to Odisha State Public Service Commission (OPSC) and State Selection Board is meant to remote control the higher educational system. The Bill also seeks to unethically bypass the Constitutional scrutiny and debates on utilization of public funds by withdrawing the tabling of University Audit Report in the State Assembly, the letter read.

The guidelines and regulations issued under the UGC Act, 1956 and Universities in Odisha recognized by the UGC under section 12 (b) of the UGC Act, are bound by the extant UGC provisions. The 'outsourcing' of University appointments promulgated under the Odisha University Amendment Bill, 2020 is in blatant violation of guidelines pertaining to the appointment and coordination for appointments under Section 26 of the UGC Act, 1956, the letter mentioned.

“It is pertinent to mention that a recent survey of 287 university faculties across Odisha, conducted by the Joint Action Committee - a body comprising of all distinguished academicians in the State found an overwhelming opposition to the Odisha University Amendment Bill, 2020. In the survey, 84.8% respondents opposed the Bill, 91.4% respondents opposed recruitment of faculty by OPSC. While, 91.4% respondents thought that this Bill will affect the autonomy of Universities and 79.7% respondents opposed abolition of the Senate. The collective wisdom of the intelligentsia has overwhelmingly opposed the attempts at hegemonic control of higher educational systems by the State government machinery,” the letter read.

(Edited By Bikram Keshari Jena)

Also Read: Odisha Universities (Amendment) Bill Passed In Assembly Amid Opposition Din

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