IIT Delhi faculty asks Director R Shevgaonkar to withdraw resignation

By: | Published: December 31, 2014 6:15 AM

The IIT Delhi faculty forum on Tuesday requested Director R Shevgaonkar to withdraw his resignation over which a controversy had erupted...

The IIT Delhi faculty forum on Tuesday requested Director R Shevgaonkar to withdraw his resignation over which a controversy had erupted, describing him as a man of “dignity and integrity”.

The request came even as Chairman of the IIT-D’s Board of Governors Vijay Bhatkar met HRD Minister Smriti Irani.

“The faculty of IIT Delhi stands by the decisions that its administration has taken to uphold the autonomy of the Institute. We request the Director, IIT Delhi to withdraw his resignation,” the faculty forum said in a statement. The resignation has not yet been accepted.

Shevgaonkar had last Friday forwarded his resignation to Bhatkar citing “personal reasons” even as a media report suggested that he was under pressure from the HRD Ministry. The Ministry has denied that any pressure was put on Shevgaonkar that may have made him quit.

Sources in the HRD Ministry indicated that faulting the Director on the issue of the setting up of an extension research campus in Mauritius would prove counter productive as it had approval of the Ministry itself and an MoU in this regard was signed in Mauritius last year in the presence of the then HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju.

An enquiry is already underway about the MoU which has been at the centre of the controversy ever since Shevgaonkar quit.

An IIT statement issued by the acting registrar yesterday had, however, said the campus in Mauritius is not an “extension campus of IIT-D” but an independent research academy named ‘International Institute of Technology Research Academy’ (IITRA). “IIT-D’s role is only advisory in nature,” it said.

Sources said that HRD Minister Smriti Irani met President Pranab Mukherjee, who is the visitor of the IITs.

While it remained unclear what transpired at the meeting, HRD Ministry sources maintained that Irani went to Rashtrapati Bhavan to enquire about the President’s health.

IIT Delhi faculty members are of the unanimous view that “interference” in the operational autonomy of IIT Delhi (and IIT system in general) is the beginning of the end to excellence that has been achieved so far, or can be achieved in future, especially in the Indian context.

“For any academician, including all faculty of IIT Delhi and especially Prof Shevgaonkar, dignity and integrity are the sole assets of our lives.

“Thus, direct or indirect communication affecting these parameters is bound to create unrest in an otherwise peaceful mind that truly loves research and teaching. This is the spirit of IIT Delhi,” the statement said.

BJP leader and former IIT-Delhi alumni Subramanian Swamy, whose name has been dragged into the controversy, had yesterday alleged his resignation was not over the alleged demand by him to the Ministry to settle his dues but had to do with setting up IIT-D campus in Mauritius over which an “explanation” has been sought from him.

The IIT statement issued yesterday said the original proposal to start International Institute of Technology Delhi Research Academy was initiated on the recommendation of the IIT Council on January 21, 2011 but its nomenclature was later changed to IITRA on the advice of the HRD Ministry.

“The final MoU was okayed by HRD Ministry and it was signed in the presence of the then HRD Minister on November 19, 2013 in Mauritius,” the IIT statement said.

IIT Delhi Alumni Association has yesterday also come out in support of Shevgaonkar, requesting him to continue in his post.

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