Friday, January 02, 2015

Shevgaonkar's Resignation: Update #3

ToI reports that while MHRD is yet to forward Shevgaonkar's resignation letter to the President, it is still keen on nailing him for the Mauritius initiative:

Meanwhile, the ministry is readying itself by preparing a case against Shevgaonkar on the Mauritius issue. Sources said IIT-Delhi has furnished all the details that the ministry wanted. "An attempt is being made to make Shevgaonkar personally responsible for the memorandum of understanding with the Mauritius institute. "The ministry has prepared a note against Shevgaonkar and is debating how to initiate action against him," one HRD source said. Technically, the ministry will have to seek permission of the President who is the visitor and appointing authority.

It is still unclear what exactly MHRD is talking about here, and no newspaper has managed to unearth the specific illegality it clearly wishes to pin on Shevgaonkar. This is an asymmetric war, since politicians, their followers on Twitter, and their un-named underlings in government can spew allegations (using intemperate, ominous, or even vile language), but the supporters of IIT-D (especially those within IIT-D) have to couch their rebuttal in a calm, dignified tone which does not play well on news media.

In any case, whatever MHRD has thrown at IIT-D and its Director has been rebutted convincingly. The latest example is this wonderful op-ed from Prof. M. Balakrishnan from IIT-D -- Why IIT can't fly. After laying all the facts out in his op-ed, Balakrishnan expresses his deep disappointment at all the meddling that he has seen:

A key aspect of the final MoU was that, contrary to the original proposal, administrative and financial control of IITRA would not rest with IIT Delhi, making it that much harder to bring up a quality institution. At that stage, we were deeply disappointed with the HRD ministry for clipping our wings even before we could attempt to fly. This was around the time that newspapers were full of stories about an amendment to the higher education act, permitting foreign institutions to open campuses in India. In hindsight, I am profoundly thankful that the bureaucrats at the HRD ministry knew the rules — no one is allowed to fly in this country, especially if you are funded by the government.

If that was about the previous government, this is about the present one:

... The only disappointment is that this country believed in the prime minister’s “minimum government, maximum governance” call and thought that he would devote his energies to enable people to fly and not to try to enforce 60 years of “no-fly” regulation. [...]